Reading Questions, Odyssey 1, 2, 4, 5 1. What does the invocation tell us about the Odyssey right at the outset? How will it differ from the Iliad? How do Zeus’ thoughts pertain to the overall plot? What is his complaint about mortals, and does his claim seem justified? 2. How are the suitors initially presented? What about Telemachus? N.B. Telemachus’ careful attention to his new guest. What practical purpose could the rules that govern welcoming a stranger have? N.B. Mentes’ (really Athena’s) claim of xenia with Odysseus. What is your reaction to Athena’s deception? 3. What is the overall, unresolved problem in the house of Odysseus and, more broadly, in Ithaka? Why does no one do anything to solve it? Considering the story of the ruse of the shroud (book 2), who bears the most blame for the always-delayed marriage of Penelope? Is all of this the gods’ fault? 4. N.B. the oft-threatened destruction as recompense for eating up the “livelihood” of Odysseus. Does such a wish or threat seem justified, given the situation? Do the suitors deserve death for their transgression, or a lesser punishment, or no punishment, since they are not really doing anything explicitly wrong? Keep this question in mind throughout the poem. 5. How is Penelope characterized? How is she similar or different compared with women portrayed in the Iliad? How does she compare with Eurykleia? 6. How is the assembly in book 2 like those of the Iliad? Why has there been no assembly on Ithaka for 20 years? What kind of authority does the assembly hold? Why do the men seem so ineffectual at bringing about a solution to Telemachus’ problems? 7. What kind of suspicions towards Telemachus do the suitors have at the end of book 2? Are these justified? 8. How does Menelaus here (in book 4) compare to the Iliad’s Menelaus? What about Helen? Do you think the couple is happy about their destiny to live forever in the Elysian Fields together? 9. What does the episode with Proteus tell you about the Homeric hero’s concept of piety and of the gods? Is there some implied lesson in the necessity of holding onto the god through his many permutations? Does Menelaus overstep his boundaries in tapping the god’s omniscience to learn of the fate of others? How is this information helpful now? 10. What does Telemachus learn, if anything, from his own little journey, or “Telemachy”? Are there ways in which he gets closer to his father without ultimately finding him? What lesson is there in the Telemachy for young men like Telemachus? 11. How are we introduced to Odysseus in book 5? Who are in reality the “rough men” (1.199) who are holding him back “though he is unwilling”? What is Kalypso offering Odysseus as an incentive to stay on her island? Why is this ultimately unsatisfying for him? How does his situation parallel that at his home? 12. What perils does Odysseus face at sea, and how does he combat them? How does Ino/Leukothea help him? Does he follow her instructions very carefully?