1. “The Odyssey is not just a story. It’s a story about telling stories.” What does this comment about The
Odyssey mean? In what sense is this comment true? Give a couple of examples to justify your answer.
2. (Book IX) As he puts out to sea after blinding Polyphemos, Odysseus shouts out his real name to the blinded
giant. What importance does this self-revelation have in the story?
3. (Book V) When we first see Odysseus, he is crying. What is he crying about? What do we learn from this first
view of him and from the dialogue with Kalypso (Calypso) that follows?
4. (Book V) Before Odysseus makes it to the land of the Phaiakians, he nearly drowns; yet he resists a goddess’s
offer to help. Why does he hesitate to accept help? What does this incident tell us about Odysseus?
5. (Book XI) Odysseus visits the underworld. Note especially what Achilles says about being alive versus being
dead. Discuss this famous statement.
6. (Book XIII) We learn some important things along with both Odysseus and Athena during the interview in which
she is disguised as a shepherd. Such as?
7. In a story by P. G. Wodehouse, one character always registers at hotels under a false name. When someone asks
him why, he answers, “Just an ordinary business precaution.” Apply this practice to Odysseus. Why would he hesitate
to reveal who he is at various points in the story?
8.( Book XVII) What is the function of the dog Argos?
9. The Odyssey contains a number of older men. Who are they? Why are there so many? (Hint: Keep in mind that this
story is in one sense an “initiation story.” If you aren’t sure what an “initiation story” is, be sure to look it
10. Discuss the theme of hospitality throughout The Odyssey and its importance in the Homeric world.
11. What do you think of the ending? Was it satisfying? Effective? Were there elements about it that showed it to
be very much made for the traveling poets who loved to keep the audience on the edge of their seats–and in their
seats for as long as possible? Discuss it in context of the overall adventure.
12. If you did not choose FORUM TOPIC #3 “O’s Women,” you may choose this:
The women in The Odyssey are clever and capable. However, they fall into two categories: the femme fatale and the
noble woman (and notice one of them is a goddess). What does this contrast add to the story and what might it say
about Homer’s (and his readers/listeners’) view of women? Plus, who’s your favorite and why?
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