Reading Questions for Odyssey 11-14 1. What are the spirits of the dead like? What role does Persephone have? What role does the blood of the sacrificed animals play? Why is Elpenor able to speak without tasting the blood first? Why is this the case for Teiresias? How are Teiresias’ instructions appropriate to Odysseus’ character and past? 2. 11.225-332 features a “Catalogue” of famous women. Who are they, and why are they important to Homer and to these stories? N.B. that Homer calls Oedipus’ (Oidipodes is the same as Oedipus) mother Epikaste instead of Jocasta (the name given by Sophocles); this is merely a variant name in the tradition of the myth. 3. How are the Iliadic heroes’ shades presented after the interlude? How do their concerns for their sons and families reflect Odysseus’ own? Do you find the (famous) words of the shade of Achilles surprising? What do his words mean for the warriors’ concern for everlasting glory? How does Heracles acknowledge the similarity between himself and Odysseus? How might have this scene been received by its original audience? 4. What ordeals remain for Odysseus and his companions after their trip to Hades? Skylla and Charybdis are the original “rock and hard place” problem. What is their precise nature? Is there any significance, do you think, to the fact that both are female monsters? How does Odysseus manage to learn the Sirens’ song without getting himself killed, and what is its draw, at least for him? N.B. what the Sirens offer to Odysseus. 5. How does the episode at Thrinakia (often thought of by the ancients to have been Sicily, by the way) recall the episode with Aiolos? How is the behavior of Odysseus’ men like that of the suitors in Ithaka? Are Hyperion and Odysseus both justified in seeking “just recompense” for their losses through the utter destruction of those who committed the crime? The punishment does not, at first blush, seem proportional. 6. Catalogue for yourself all of the potential “lessons” leaned by Odysseus from the Adventures. How may this wisdom have been useful to the original audience? 7. What becomes of the Phaiakian ship that conveys Odysseus after dropping him off in Ithaka? How is the prefigured doom of the Phaiakians averted? 8. What kind of interaction does Odysseus have with Athena once he is home? How does she explain her apparent absence? What are her new instructions and plan for Odysseus? 9. How are we introduced to Eumaios the swineherd? Is there a certain nobility in him, despite his servile status? Why is he so loyal to Odysseus? 10. Odysseus tells us a carefully crafted false story about his background. Is this fable altogether a lie? How do certain elements reflect true events, at least as they have already been presented to us?