The Odyssey is a myth, or a religion that people no longer believe. This particular one was written by the greatest poet of ancient Greece, a blind guy by the name of Homer, not to be confused with the fat guy from The Simpsons.


In order to better understand The Odyssey, we need to know a little bit about the gods and goddesses that run the world this story takes place in. In class we took notes using this Power Point. All you need to have for notes are: the Greek name, the Roman name, what he/she is god of, and any little tidbit you think is important (like their weapon). Here is the crossword that we did in class: Gods and Goddesses Crossword

The Odyssey is part two of a two part tale. The first part is The Iliad, which is described in a little bit more detail on the column to the right.

You can read a short version and slightly longer version of The Odyssey by going to this link: Myth Web

You can also see the introduction Power Point we viewed in class by clicking here.

We did a reading comprehension worksheet, not on The Odyssey, but on mythology. If you didn't get it, you can get it here. Remember to try and answer the questions in your own words. Just copying from the text is NOT an acceptable answer.

Like Mythology? Try WINGED SANDALS

The Voyage Home for Odysseus

Here is a copy of the notes handout.

Look at the Introduction PowerPoint.

Odyssey Study Guide

The Beginning...

We start out The Odyssey with Telemachus (Odysseus's son) looking for Odysseus. The son is now around 20 years old so we know that if the war took 10 years then it has been 10 years since Odysseus has left home. So where is he?

To make matters worse for Telemachus, nobody but his mom (Penelope) and he believes that Odysseus is still alive. All the losers in Ithaca (Odysseus's home) want Penelope to marry one of them so that there can be a king again. Telemachus leaves to go find his dad.

Meanwhile, Odysseus washes ashore a strange place. He is taken to the king of that land. Odyssesu then begins to tell the king his story of where he has been the last ten years...


Here is each stop on Odysseus's journey:

Stop 1 - Ciconia - Odysseus and his men are restless from the war and head north (they need to go southwest) to attack the town of Ciconia. Odysseus tells the men to stock up on supplies and plunder and to get out of there fast! The men, however, are so pleased by the ease of their victory that they stick around and eat and drink and hold hands with the women of the town untilt he men come home and start throwing spears. Odysseus and his men quickly get out of there, leaving their supplies behind and losing around 18 men.

Note Sheet after stop 1

Stop 2 - The Island of the Lotus Eaters - Affectionately known in class as "Hippy Crackhead Island." In class we read this excerpt from a poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (we just read section 8, but if you liked it, you can click here to read the whole poem):


The Lotos blooms below the barren peak,
The Lotos blows by every winding creek;
All day the wind breathes low with mellower tone;
Thro’ every hollow cave and alley lone
Round and round the spicy downs the yellow Lotos-dust is blown.
We have had enough of action, and of motion we,
Roll’d to starboard, roll’d to larboard, when the surge was seething free,
Where the wallowing monster spouted his foam-fountains in the sea.
Let us swear an oath, and keep it with an equal mind,
In the hollow Lotos-land to live and lie reclined
On the hills like Gods together, careless of mankind.
For they lie beside their nectar, and the bolts are hurl’d
Far below them in the valleys, and the clouds are lightly curl’d
Round their golden houses, girdled with the gleaming world;
Where they smile in secret, looking over wasted lands,
Blight and famine, plague and earthquake, roaring deeps and fiery sands,
Clanging fights, and flaming towns, and sinking ships, and praying hands.
But they smile, they find a music centred in a doleful song
Steaming up, a lamentation and an ancient tale of wrong,
Like a tale of little meaning tho’ the words are strong;
Chanted from an ill-used race of men that cleave the soil,
Sow the seed, and reap the harvest with enduring toil,
Storing yearly little dues of wheat, and wine and oil;
Till they perish and they suffer—some, ’tis whisper’d—down in hell
Suffer endless anguish, others in Elysian valleys dwell,
Resting weary limbs at last on beds of asphodel.
Surely, surely, slumber is more sweet than toil, the shore
Than labor in the deep mid-ocean, wind and wave and oar;
O, rest ye, brother mariners, we will not wander more.

Basically, the poem is showing that the people on this island are addicted to this plant and sit around all day eating the flowers. Odysseus's men who went there to scout, got addicted and did not want to leave. Odysseus had to drag them back and tie them up to try and get them home.

Note Sheet after stop 2


Stop 3 - Polyphemus - We read this passage (make sure you answer the questions) about the visit with the Cyclops.

Note Sheet after stop 3

Stop 4 - Isle of Aeolus - You need to read the first four paragraphs of this link to Myth Web.

Note Sheet after stop 4

Stop 5 - The Laestrygonians - Get the reading passage and the questions for this stop by clicking here.

Note Sheet after stop 5

Stop 6 - Circe's Island - Here is the handout we did with her. It has an exercise designed to practice the EOC style questions of using context clues to figure out words.

Note Sheet after stop 6


Stop 7 - Hades, the Land of the Dead - Read the excerpt from Myth Web. This account leaves out a few things, so we'll fill it in here:

When Odyssey is in Hades, he sees several people. The first person he sees is one of his men, Elpenor, who evidentially died at Circe's island. He got drunk while sitting on her roof and fell over and broke his neck (sounds like a Darwin Award to me)! I guess nobody knew that and they just left him there. He begs for Odysseus to go back and bury him so he can rest.

Next he sees his mom. She is a spirit and has no body but apparently you can recognize who the spirits are as they float around. She was not dead at the time Odysseus left so he is really upset to see her here. He is also upset because she is really interested in the blood of the sheep he brought (read the excerpt from Myth Web) but does not seem to recognize him at all.

Finally Tieresias shows up. He drinks the blood, gains some color and tells Odysseus that if his men want to see home then they'll need to NOT TOUCH THE COWS! He also tells Odysseus that chances are he will find his way home, but he will be alone, in a strange boat, and find more troubles at home than he has on his journeys. He says that when he gets home, he needs to give a sacrifice to Poseidon if he wants to live to an old age. He also tells Odysseus that once his mom drinks the blood, she'll recognize him.

He gives his mom the blood and she gets all excited when she recognizes him. She tells him that his wife is faithful.

He sees several other women who are wives and daughters of the men that he has lost in the war and the journey home.

Agamemnon shows up, drinks the blood, and tells Odysseus pretty much to smack his wife around to keep her fatihful (remember Agamemnon's wife was holding hands with another man while he was gone and killed Agamemnon when he came home).

Achilles shows up, drinks the blood, and tells Odysseus that he hates it here. He says something to the effect of, "Better to be a slave in the sun than the king of Hades."

Ajax shows up, drinks the blood, and tells Odysseus that he is still angry at him for tricking him back during the war (they both wanted Achilles's armor and Odysseus won it by cheating).

Hercules shows up and just seems to be having a ball down here.

Then he looks around and sees several famous Hades figures: Minos, Tityus, Tantalous, and Sissyphus.

Odyssey Find You Way worksheet

Note Sheet after stop 7

Stop 8 - The Sirens - We read this out of our text book. I figured that since they sing, they should be read in poetry form.

Here are the questions that we answered from the reading:

  1. What beautiful thing do the deadly sirens do?
  2. Why does Odysseus ask to be tied to the mast?
  3. Helios is said to be the "lord of High Noon." What do you think this is? (*HINT* check your gods and goddesses notes for Apollo.)
  4. Why were the men of Odysseus NOT affected by the sirens?
  5. What does "dropped under the sea rim" mean in line 759?

Here is a poem someone wrote about the siren song:

This is the one song everyone
would like to learn: the song
that is irresistible:
the song that forces men
to leap overboard in squadrons
even though they see the beached skulls
the song nobody knows
because anybody who has heard it
is dead, and the others can’t remember.
Shall I tell you the secret
and if I do, will you get me
out of this bird suit?
I don’t enjoy it here
squatting on this island
looking picturesque and mythical
with these two feathery maniacs,
I don’t enjoy singing
this trio, fatal and valuable.
I will tell the secret to you,
to you, only to you.
Come closer. This song
is a cry for help: Help me!
Only you, only you can,
you are unique
at last. Alas
it is a boring song
but it works every time.


Note Sheet after stop 8

Stop 9 - Scylla and Charybdis -Read this excerpt. Only the front side deals with The Odyssey. The back side tells how Scylla became a monster and about aguy who ate magic grass. Circe makes a cameo in it too.

This is possibly what the bottom of the whirlpool Charybdis looks like.

Note Sheet after stop 9


Stop 10, 11, 12 - Helios / Charybdis / Calypso - For these stops, we read this excerpt for homework and took an open notes quiz on it. If you are having difficulty opening it, try the PDF version. You know, just for fun, I might just ask these questions tomorrow:

  1. How long did they stay on the island?
  2. What mistake did Odysseus's men make?
  3. What god complained?
  4. What god sank their boat?
  5. What monster spit Odysseus toward Calypso's island?
  6. How long did he stay on Calypso's island?

*extra credit* How do they always refer to Circe (Hint - look at the epithet section to the right on this web page)?

Note Sheet after stop 12


Stop 13 - The Phaeacians -This is where we started! Odysseus has washed up on shore and was found by the beautiful Naussica. She takes him to her home (the local palace) and he tells her dad, King Alcinuous, his story (which is all of the above). The king is pleased and offers Odysseus a ride home.

Note Sheet after stop 13

Review all of the above with these crossword puzzles:



Stop 14 - Ithaca - In class, we read the return home in drama form from the magazine READ. Click below to read it:

Note Sheet after stop 14


And, of course, no reading of The Odyssey would be complete without watching The Simpsons version of it from their "Tales from the Public Domain" episode. What we didn't watch was a sorry Joan of Arc rendition and a great Hamlet version, both also in that same episode.






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The definition of epic is a long poem that tells the story of a hero. Some well known epics are:

  • The Odyssey
  • The Iliad
  • Beowulf
  • Paradise Lost

Epic Conventions / Hero's Journey

Epic conventions are simply put just guidelines that an epic follows. We may have talked about the Hero's Journey. We are going to find these conventions in The Odyssey. Here are those worksheets:


Star Wars

We watched Star Wars in class not JUST because I like it, but also because it follows the epic conventions. Luke Skywalker is every bit as mucht he epic hero as is Odysseus (except of course that Star Wars is not an epic, it is not poetry, so therefore it is a saga, which means a long story about a hero).

The Wilhelm Scream

In 1951, a series of screams were recorded for a Warner Bros fim titled Distant Drums. The recording was made for a man who was bitten and dragged underwater by an aligator. Since then, it has appeared in many films and was used in Star Wars when a stormtrooper gets hit and falls down a shaft.

Click to hear the scream. See if you can hear it in other movies.

To learn more about the Wilhelm Scream, click here. Click here to see which movies it has been used in.

Watch the Wilhelm compilation we watched in class.

The Iliad short version:

It all began with a wedding. All the gods and goddesses were invited - except one, Eris, the goddess of trouble making. She went to the wedding reception and threw in a golden apple with the words, "To the fairest," which means, "to the most beautiful."

Predictably, all the goddesses claimed to be the most beautiful and eventually it came down to Hera, Aphrodite, and Athena. A young man was picked at random off a distant hillside to be the judge. Each goddess bribed him with a prize to pick her. He picked Aphrodite and got her prize, the love of the most beautiful woman (not goddess) in the world. The problem was two fold: One, he was not some random nobody, he was a prince of Troy, a great city-kingdom known for being unbeatable since it had great walls around the city. Two, the most beautiful woman was Helen, and she was already married to a king in Greece.

All the kings of Greece got together and took 1,000 ships to attack Troy. The war lasted 10 years.Eventually, Odysseus comes up with the idea of faking like they gave up and went home. They left a giant wooden horse on the beach for the Trojans. The Trojans, glad for the war to be over, bring int he offering and have a great party. That night, Odysseus and his men sneak out of their hiding spot inside the horse and opent he gates. The Greeks, who had not really left, came in and slaughtered the Trojans.

Want more mythology?

Try this page: Lord Alford's Greek Mythology Page

There is also much more mythology than just Greek and Roman. Try these others:

If you really like mythology, there is a mythology class offered at Orange High School that you might be interested in.

You might also be interested in these links:

And you should seriously consider reading:

Read more about Cy the cyclopic kitten on Bubo's Blog.

Also, for extra credit, e-mail what is this skull:

The early Greeks thought this was proof of cyclops. What is it?

The Odyssey Game

O.K., not my game and not really a video game; however, if you can make it through the game, you know the story and it is a whole lot better to study this way rather than to read notes over again...


This movie is about some escaped convicts trying to get to freedom and it is actually loosely based on The Odyssey. I didn't care for it, but maybe you will.


In the pathway of the sun,
In the footsteps of the breeze,
Where the world and sky are one,
He shall ride the silver seas,
He shall cut the glittering wave.
I shall sit at home, and rock;
Rise, to heed a neighbor's knock;
Brew my tea, and snip my thread;
Bleach the linen for my bed.
They will call him brave.

DOROTHY PARKER (1893—1967)

Extra Credit

This is a political cartoon from 1998. See if you can figure out the reference (you can click and see it bigger). If you can't, call your mom or dad into the room. E-mail me the answer and I'll give you extra credit: E-MAIL ME


If you like playing the game in class, here is a printout of the board with directions. Anything can be used as pieces. To print this, you will either need to use long paper or click the little scale button when you print.


Here is the handout for the monster project. It is due Friday! Get to work!!!!!!!

Here are the lines we mentioned in class from Dr. Fautus about how beautiful Helen was. In the play, Dr. Faustus has sold his sold to a devil and asked to see Helen. He says this when he sees her, but then realizes that it is not the real Helen, but a demon in disguise.

Was this the face that launch'd a thousand ships,
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss.
Her lips suck forth my soul: see, where it flies!
Come, Helen, come, give me my soul again.
Here will I dwell, for heaven is in these lips,
And all is dross that is not Helena.


What is an epithet?

The early story tellers didn't want you to struggle remembering who was whom, so they often described the person/ god/ goddess/ thing the same way each time. Much the same as we see TV characters and cartoons always wearing the same clothes. It is easier that way. Some epithets in The Odyssey are:

  • fair-haired Circe
  • Dawn, with her fingertips of rose
  • clever Odysseus
  • grey-eyed Athena
  • ox-eyed Hera
  • the blind prophet Tieresias

Test Review!!!!!!!!!!

Look over all your notes, obviously, but the more important ones are:

  • gods and goddesses
  • Odyssey note page

These are available on this page. If you missed them in class, we have a simple test review sheet - it is not pretty, but it will lead you in the right direction: TEST REVIEW SHEET


First Trojan horse virus warning


If you receive a gift in the shape of a large wooden horse, do not download it!! It is extremely destructive. It will overwrite your entire city!

The “gift” is disguised as a large wooden horse about two stories tall.

It tends to show up outside the city gates and appears to be abandoned. DO NOT let it through the gates!

It contains hardware that is incompatible with Trojan programming, including a crowd of heavily armed Greek warriors that will destroy your army, sack your town, and kill your women and children.

If you have already received such a “gift,” DO NOT OPEN IT! Wheel it back out of the city unopened and set fire to it by the beach.
Forward this message to everyone you don’t know!