The Odyssey by Homer


The guy who wrote this did not have a son named Bart. We don’t know much about Homer except that he wrote in about 750 BC. That was a long time ago. Some people think that Homer wasn’t one guy, but a bunch of guys, all writing together. Some people think Homer was blind. Whatever. The dude wrote two things, this book, and another one called The Iliad. They are both very long. Actually, they are poems, not novels. The Odyssey is an epic poem. Epics are stories that are usually long and action-based and focused on some hero or some heroic action, like "Braveheart" and stuff like that. The Odyssey is about this one guy, Odysseus, and his struggle to get home to his wife, Penelope, after the Trojan War. Oh, one more thing -- there are real guys in this book, and also gods and monsters.


Real Characters

Odysseus: The main guy in the poem. He’s cool – smart, brave, a good soldier, he is King of Ithaca (not the New York Ithaca, that one didn’t exist yet). He is the son of Laertes. Sometimes he gets in trouble because he knows he’s the man and acts out with his pride.

Penelope: The wife of Odysseus. This woman has it bad for Odysseus – she waits 20 years for him to come back to her! She’s a good mom and a good wife.

Laertes: Dad of Odysseus. He lives alone in Ithaca. Even though he’s kinda old, he’s still pretty with it.

Telemachus: He’s the son of Odysseus. He’s got a lot to live up to with his dad being such a hero and all. He has to grow into his role of being a man. In the end, he shows he’s finally grown up by being courageous and strong.

Anticleia: Odysseus’ mom.

Mentor: A friend of Odysseus’. He stayed in Ithaca to teach Telemachus. He’s bright and loyal.

Agamemnon: He’s the King of Mycenae. He leads the Greeks to troy. He is murdered by his wife and her lover when he gets back from fighting. Then he shows up in Hades, the land of the dead.

Alcinous: He’s King of the Phaeacians, Nausicaa’s dad, and Arete’s husband. He’s cool – nice, gives a lot, has a sense of humor, and is a good dad. He’s the one who makes it possible for Odysseus to return to Ithaca.

Arete: Alsinous’s wife and Nausicaa’s mom. She’s nice and sympathetic.

Nausicaa: She’s the pretty daughter of Arete and Alcinous. She’s an innocent teenager. All she thinks about are boys and having fun.

Antinous: The dicky leader of the suitors for Penelope who go after her while Odysseus is away. He’s a bad guy, and killed by Odysseus.

Eupeithes: Dad of Antinous. He’s like his son, disloyal and a prick. He’s killed by Laertes.

Eurymachus: A suitor. He’s a bad guy.

Amphinomus: A decent suitor.

Irus: A beggar who is a coward. The suitors like him. Odysseus wails on him later in the book.

Argus: Isn’t this a cool name for a dog? Odysseus thought so. Argus is his dog. He dies in the end.

Nestor: King of Pylos. He’s a wise old dude who lived through the Trojan War.

Peisistratus: Nestor’s son. He travels with Telemachus.

Tiresias: A blind guy who sees shit. Not sees with his eyes, but knows about stuff because of his special visionary abilities.

Demodocus: Also blind, this guy sings and performs at dinners and stuff. His songs give away Odysseus’ identity to the Phaeacians.

Menelaus: King of Sparta, Helen’s husband, Agamemnon’s brother.

Eurycleia: Odysseus’ nurse who was bought by Laertes long ago. Helpful and kind, she recognizes Odysseus when he returns.

Medon: Herald of Ithaca. Even though he’s forced to help the suitors, he remains loyal to Odysseus.

Philoetius: Buddy of Odysseus. He’s old, but brave and loyal and helps Odysseus fight.

Eurylochus: An officer. He’s a serious guy.

Elpenor: One of the crew. He gets killed on Circe’s island and comes back to blame Odysseus.

Eumaeus: A smart, loyal shepard who stands by Odysseus while he’s gone and helps him get his groove back when he returns.

Melanthius: A goatherd. With Odysseus away, he doesn’t do his work and helps the suitors. He’s killed.

Halisthernes: A guy who can see into the future.

Theoclymenus: Another seer.

Gods and Others

Zeus: King of the Gods and of Olympus.

Sirens: Hot chicks who live in the ocean and tempt sailors by singing and by being hotties. The sailors fall for it, jump overboard, and get killed on the rocks.

Scylla: Bad-ass sea monster with six heads. Odysseus and his men have to get past this thing on their trip.

Poseidon: Younger bro of Zeus. He’s God of the sea. He can also make earthquakes (cool!). Since Odysseus is at sea a lot, Poseidon can totally mess with him. Poseidon’s pissed because Odysseus wasn’t nice to Polyphemus.

Polyphemus: The son of Poseidon. He’s a Cyclops -- a big dude with one eye. He keeps Odysseus and his guys in a cave until Odysseus gets him wasted and blinds him.

Leucothoe: A little sea nymph (hottie) who helps Odysseus get to land during a bad storm. She’s also called Ino.

Hyperion: He also is called Helios. Either way, he’s the sun god. He cruises around in his chariot, checking out what’s happening on earth.

Hermes: Son of Zeus. He’s a messenger.

Circe: A magic woman who tries to turn Odysseus and his men into pigs. Odysseus can’t be conquered (sexy!) so she wants him. She makes Odysseus her lover and eventually helps him get home.

Athene: The daughter of Zeus. Sometimes she’s called Pallas. She’s basically the coolest female in the book – funny, spirited, creative. She and Odysseus are friends even though she’s a goddess. Odysseus seems to relate more to her than to anyone.

Calypso: The bitch nymph who holds Odysseus against his will for 9 years! She’s so desperate to have him as her husband. Give it up, girl/goddess/whatever you are, Odysseus' not falling for your sorry ass. She tempts Odysseus but she doesn’t keep Odysseus.


The Odyssey is about a guy named Odysseus who fought in the Trojan (no, not that kind of Trojan) War and all his adventures. At the start of the story, Odysseus and his army have been away from their homes in Ithaca for almost twenty years. The first ten of those years were spent fighting against Troy. During the next ten years, all the other guys who fought in Troy went back to their homelands or are dead. But no one knows what the hell happened to Odysseus. His hottie wife, Penelope, still lives in their palace, waiting for him to come home. All the rich dudes of Ithaca want her to forget about Odysseus and marry them. They are the suitors. They are bad. They not only try to steal Penelope from Odysseus, but they badmouth him to the servants in the palace and use up some of his money. But Penelope still won’t go with them. The son of Odysseus, Telemachus, tries to find out what happened to his dad.

Meanwhile, Odysseus has been through a lot. He’s dealt with nasty gods who have it out for his ass. Poseidon, the sea god, messes with the ship Odysseus sails on, which doesn’t help his getting home any faster. Odysseus is liked by some of the other gods, though, so at least he’s got that going for him. He’s an awesome fighter, strong, smart, and brave. What more could a girl want? Well, it’d be nice if he were home once in a while. Which is what happens in the end. Odysseus gets help from Alcinous and returns home to Ithaca. Once home, he tells off the suitors, gets back into being King, reunites with Penelope and Telemachus, and avoids a war in Ithaca with a little help from the gods.







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