Study Questions for Od. 1-4
Bk. 1: The divine assembly that opens the poem clearly
functions as a kind of prologue; what do we learn about the plot and the
This assembly has a counterpart at the beginning of Bk. 5, yet not
much seems to have changed on Loympus: what other functions do these
scenes preforma than simply advancing the plot?
Athena appears on Ithaca in the guise of Mentes, a Taphian
seafaring prince who is a friend of Odysseus. (Although both names mean
"inspirer" or "mentor," do not confuse this Mentes with
Mentor in Bk 2 and later, an Ithacan elder.) The reception
Telemachus offers the unknown stranger is both exemplary of what a good
reception should be and also initiates a repeated theme of the poem--hospitality.
In Bk. 1 and more strongly in Bk. 3 we see a variation
on this theme: 'the god comes in human disguise seeking hopsitality and
learning the true nature of his people.' Compare the stories of Abraham
at mamre (Gen. 18) and Lot at Sodom (Gen. 19).
Bks. 1-4: The first four books of the Odyssey are
sometimes referred to collectively as the Telemakheia because they focus
on Telemakhos and his coming of age (a type of story known as a
- What is he like when we first meet him and what do you think it is
that prompts his sudden change (which others notice in Bk. 2)?
- To get an idea of what values Telemakhos is involved in learning, you
might compare (and contrast) the actions of Achilles (who, remember, is
relatively young) in Iliad Bk. 1.
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