Reading Questions for Odyssey 15, 19, 21, 22 1. What do the final exchanges between Telemachos and his respective hosts (Menelaus and Helen, Nestor) teach him (and us) about the proper way of exercising and receiving hospitality within this system? Be sure to note how the portent interpreted by Helen will later be echoed in book 19. 2. What is the overall narrative effect of the shifts back and forth between Odysseus and Telemachos in book 15? How does the dramatic irony of Odysseus being in disguise shape and enliven the Ithaka narration throughout these books, up until he reveals himself? 3. What does Odysseus discover about Eumaios towards the end of book 15? How is Eumaios similar to him? What do we learn about trade and slavery (perhaps during Homer?s time) from Eumaios? story? 4. Why does Penelope wish to talk with the new stranger? What is their interaction like? What is Odysseus eager to reveal to his wife, and why? What does he purposefully conceal, besides his identity? How much of the story he tells about himself true? What is left out? 5. What do we learn from the tale of the boar hunt, besides the explanation of Odysseus? scar? In terms of the art of the poet as storyteller, why does he choose to place this anecdote at this point in the narrative, and what is the effect? Why does Odysseus swear Eurykleia to silence? 6. Pay close attention to Penelope?s dream. Why is she telling it to the stranger, and is it really so unclear to her what it means? Why does she ask him to interpret it? 7. How does the contest of the bow play out? Does it seem like a contest particularly apt to a man of Odysseus? stature? N.B. that it is not only a contest of strength. How does the description of the pedigree of the bow lend weight to the contest that is about to begin? 8. Why are the suitors so reluctant to let the stranger have a turn with the bow? How does Penelope help the stranger?s cause, and why? How do the suitors talk around their own inability to string the bow? Are they being sincere when they compare themselves unfavorably with Odysseus in this way? 9. What are your own reactions to the Mnesterophonia (the Greek word for the famous episode of book 22, the ?Suitor-Slaughter?)? What do you think the original audience of this poem felt? What does the poet intend? Is Odysseus justified in his actions? Do you find Eurymachos? plea after Antino÷s? death a good one? What would be the possible complications if one were to accept it? Remember the pleas made to Achilles, first by the embassy and later by Hector before and after his mortal wound. 10. Why are Phemios and Medon spared but not Leodes? Why do Odysseus and Telemachos choose more brutal deaths for the faithless maids and for Melanthios than they need to?
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