Study Questions on the Odyssey

1. What does the term in medias res mean? How does it apply to the Odyssey?

2. What is epic retardation? Discuss several examples in the Odyssey.

3. What is an epic invocation? Describe the invocation of the Odyssey. What purposes does this invocation serve?

4. Who is Demodokos? Describe his role in the Odyssey.

5. Describe the Lay of Demodokos. Discuss its significance to the plot and meaning of the Odyssey.

6. Discuss the importance of Agamemnon's family history to the Odyssey.

7. What is the Telemachy? What purposes does it serve in the Odyssey?

8. Who is Menelaus? In what connection does he appear in the Odyssey? How does he affect the plot and theme of the Odyssey?

9. Define xenia and discuss its importance in the Odyssey.

10. Define the term simile. Discuss several examples in the Odyssey.

11. Discuss how Athena affects characters psychologically in the Odyssey. Give at least two examples.

12. Briefly outline the role of the singer in the Odyssey. Give many examples.

13. Discuss at least TWO instances in the Odyssey where names are important.

14. How are the characters of Odysseus, Penelope and Athena similar? Give specific examples.

15. Discuss TWO reasons why Eumaios is an important character in the Odyssey. How does he develop the plot and themes of the story?

16. Discuss Cavafy's "Ithaca". How does this poem relate to the Odyssey? What has Cavafy added or changed?

17. Discuss Odysseus' development as a hero in the Odyssey.

18. Discuss the unity (or disunity) of the Odyssey.

19. In what ways is the Odyssey an oral poem? Discuss several oral features of the Odyssey.

20. Describe TWO adventures which Odysseus recounts to the Phaikians. Why is each important?

21. Define an epic poem and show how this definition applies to the Odyssey.

22. Compare and contrast Odysseus' recognition via the bed with his other recognitions on Ithaka.

23. Compare and contrast the two Nekyia in the Odyssey.

24. How is Odysseus' adventure with the Cyclops related to xenia?

25. How does Odysseus' adventure with the Cyclops affect his homecoming? In what way is this problem solved?

26. Why does Odysseus have to visit the land of the Dead? What does he learn there? Whom does he see? How does he react to each person?

27. Compare the adventure with the Cyclops with an African initiation rite. How does this comparison affect your interpretation of the Odyssey?

28. Discuss the role of the gods in the Odyssey.

29. How are the gods of the Odyssey anthropomorphic? Give several examples.

30. What is the role of Athena in the Odyssey? Of Hermes? Of Poseidon? Of Zeus?

31. Describe Homer's characterization of the suitors. In what ways does Homer suggest that their deaths are justified?

32. Describe Odysseus' encounter with his father Laertes. How is this incident related to the rest of the Odyssey?

33. How is the theme of Nausicaa's approaching marriage related to the Odyssey?

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