The English Teacher

The Odyssey

Student Questions

These are one set of questions which were answered by a group of Odyssey scholars from the Ageanet.

Honors English I (7th period)

What does: 'Eumaios- O my swineherd! answered him.' mean? Why does Homer use this instead of 'Eumaios said.'?

What does this mean? -And you replied Eumaios- O my swineherd. Where does that come from?

What exactly is a hekatomb?

On pg.383, ln.297 Antinoos says, "I say we take this hectoring by Telemakhos." What does hectoring mean?

After Odysseus comes home to fight, when does he change back from an old man to his younger self? As far as I know it doesn't say. So by the end of the book, I thought that he was still old.

Throughout the book Odysseus is referred to as son of Laertes and the gods of old. What does the 'gods of old' refer to?

Do all the islands and lands mentioned in the Odyssey really exist?

In the original form, was the Odyssey acted out or just simply sung? What is the meaning of Odysseus seeing his mother in the form of a shade?

If Odysseus and the Akhaians believed in fate, then what purpose did the gods serve? How could they affect a person's life?

Why does Odysseus always test people? Especially his father? I would have run and just hugged my father.

Honors English I (4th period)

Were the oracles (e.g. at Delphi) really just people who inhaled volcanic fumes from vents in the earth, and how was that deciphered? Also- From the Odyssey are there many places which match up on the physical earth with places that Odysseus went to until his shipwreck on Kalypso's island? -such as the place of death [shades], the fjord isle of the cannibals, Kirke's isle..

Where is the passageway in Bk. 12 between the whirlpool and Skylla and secondly, was Skylla like a giant squid or some other sea creature that back then they thought was a monster?

Does Odysseus ever do the second trial told to him by Teiresias when he's in the land of the dead? (Bk 11, ln 135) Also- Laertes says he was commander of the Kephallenians; who were they? (Bk XXIV, ln 415)

In Bk. XXIV, ln. 259, why does Odysseus decide [question] whether to interrogate his father or run and kiss him? You would think after 20 years you'd run to your father and hug him as soon as you saw him.

In the book, The Odyssey, it looks like the gods have an awful lot of power. If they have all this power, why don't they use it to prevent war and make the world a peaceful place?

In Bk. 24, ln 254, why does Odysseus want to lie to his father and not run up and hug him? Wouldn't Laertes believe that he is really his son?

Did all Greeks approach others by saying something descriptive about them? Like when Kalypso talks to Odysseus she says 'Son of Laertes, versatile Odysseus.' Why does she have to say 'son of Laertes'? (ln. 211)

As Odysseus is on his journey home, he goes to the 'cold homes of Death and pale Persephone,' where it says that it is dark almost all day. Where approximately would this be located on earth?

What does 'ghosting deer' mean? Bk. VI pg. 102, ln. 112-113.

In Bk. III, ln. 12-13, it says '...while on the altars thighbones in fat lay for the god.' Why do they have to burn thighbones? Why couldn't they burn any other bones?

When did 'mythology' become less believed in and begin not to be the prominent religion/belief of the people in that area of the world?

In relation to the countries today, where were Kharybdis, Skylla, and the Seirenes?

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