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A brief summary of Homers ODYSSEY


Telemacheia (books 1 -4)

1. In the twentieth year of Odysseus absence, the gods decide that it is time for him to
return home. Goddess Athena arrives at Ithaca, disguised as Mentor, an old friend of Odysseus, and suggests to Telemachos (Odysseus son) to confront the suitors in public. These men have taken up permanent residence in the palace and try to persuade Penelope (Odysseus wife) to marry one of them. Athena advises Telemachos to visit Nestor, king of Pylos and Menelaos, king of Sparta, to inquire about his father.

2. Telemachos tries to stir the men of Ithaca to action against the suitors, but to no avail.
Accompanied by Athena, disguised as Mentor, sets off to Pylos.

3. Telemachos visits king Nestor and hears stories about other heroes returns and the fate
of Agamemnon, but no word about his father. He then leaves for Sparta.

4. Menelaos and Helen welcome him and tell him more stories about the returns of the
Greeks and his fathers exploits at Troy and that Odysseus is alive. Back at Ithaca, the suitors plan to ambush him on his return. From Ogygia to the land of the Phaeacians (Books 5 - 8)

5. The messenger god, Hermes, sets off to the island Ogygia where Odysseus is kept captive
by the nymph Calypso for seven years. Calypso releases Odysseus but the sea- god Poseidon, enraged that Odysseus blinded his son, the Cyclops Polyphemos, creates a tremendous storm. Odysseus nearly survived and he is finally swept ashore on the land of the Phaeacians.

6. Nausicaa, the Phaecian princess, rescues Odysseus and impressed by his eloquence and
manners, invites him in the palace.

7. Odysseus is kindly received in the palace where he enjoys full Phaecian hospitality. 8. During the next days festivities, the Phaecian blind bard, Demodokos, sings stories from
the Trojan War, including some of Odysseus adventures. Odysseus weeps and reveals his true identity and narrates his journey from Troy to Ogygia.

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From Troy to Ogygia (books 9 - 12)

9. Odysseus adventures at the land of the Kikones, at the Lotus-Eaters and the land of the
Cyclopes, where he blinds Polyphemos.

10. His misfortunes with the winds of Aeolos, with the Lastrygonians, who destroyed all his
ships except his own, and his encounter with the witch Circe, who advised him to go to the Underworld to learn about his future.

11. In the underworld he consults the prophet Teiresias in order to find his way home. He
also meets several other ghosts, including his mother, Agamemnon, Achilles and Ajax.

12. After leaving the island of Circe, he listened to the tempting song of the Sirens, he
escaped Skylla and Charybdis and finally arrived at the island of Helios (the sun - god). There, despite Odysseus warnings, his men, exhausted from hunger, killed and ate Helios sacred cattle. His last ship is destroyed and all his men are dead. Only he alone survived and he was swept away to Ogygia, where he stayed with Calypso for seven years. At Ithaca (books 13 - 24)

13. The Phaeacians load Odysseus with gifts and send him home. Athena meets him, warns
him of the suitors , disguises him as beggar and instructs him to visit the swineherd, Eumaios

14. Eumaios, who does not recognize him, informs him on the events in the palace 15. Athena summons Telemachos back from Sparta. He meets the beggar - Odysseus in
Eumaios hut. Odysseus learns more news of Ithaca.

16. During Eumaios absence Odysseus reveals himself to his son. They plan an action to get
rid of the suitors.

17. Telemachos goes to the palace, followed by Odysseus and Eumaios. Odysseus is
recognized by his old dog. He begs in the palace where he is attacked and insulted by the suitors but Penelope asks Eumaios to arrange a meeting with him.

18. Penelope announces that she will remarry.

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19. Odysseus as a beggar and Penelope meet. He persuaded her that he has heard of
Odysseus and Penelope orders her old nurse, Eurykleia, to wash him. Eurykleia recognizes him by an old scar on his leg, a wound received during a boar hunt, and she is sworn to secrecy. Penelope announces that she will set up the trial of the bow and the axes; whoever can string Odysseus bow and shoot an arrow through the twelve axes will marry her.

20. Odysseus and Telemachos remove all the weapons from the hall. In the morning all the
suitors return to feast. Further insults are directed against Odysseus.

21. The test with the bow and axes starts. The suitors fail. Penelope retires to bed. Odysseus
persuades the suitors to let him try the bow. He shoots right through the axes.

22. Odysseus with the help of Telemachos, Eumaios and Athena disguised as Mentor,
slaughter the suitors.

23. Penelope cannot believe that the beggar is Odysseus. By testing him about the
construction of their marriage bed, she proves to her satisfaction that he really is her husband.

24. The ghosts of suitors arrive in Hades. Odysseus is reunited with his father. The suitors
relatives gather to take revenge, but Zeus and Athena intervene and peace is restores in Ithaca.

Odysseus and the Sirens