The Odyssey Books IX – XI

How does Odysseus introduce his name to the Phaeacians? He is the son of Laertes
What foolish thing did Odysseus’ men do when they visited the Cicones? How did these “fools” turn about and become wise in the Cyclops scene (at 215ff)? They raid the Cicones, and get 72 of their men killed and are driven off into the sea. They didn’t want to see the cyclops, they only wanted to take the food and go
How did Odysseus rescue his men from the land of the Lotus Eaters? He took them on the boat, tied their hands, and told them not to at the lotuses
What kind of social life do the Cyclopes have? They live in caves, they have no social life or any sense of community whatsoever
What do the Cyclopes NOT have? They have no sense of a community or socializing
What prompts Odysseus to explore Polyphemus’ cave? He wanted to see the creature, he did it for his ego, he wanted to explore
How are the customs of xenia (hospitality) parodied in the Cyclops scene? They tricked the cyclops and stole his livestock and food, the cyclops ate the men and held them hostage instead of offering them food, shelter, and protection.
Who is to blame for the death of Odysseus’ men at the hands of the Cyclops? Why? Odysseus, he wanted to see the creature. The men, however, did not. If Odysseus listened to them, they would still be alive.
How did a pun save Odysseus and his men from the other Cyclopes? He called himself Nohbdy, making it seem as if he was nobody, so when the other cyclops’s saw asked who was there, he said nobody
What mistake does Odysseus make at the end of book 9 that costs his men their lives? Why does he make this mistake? He lets his pride get in the way and tells the Cyclops who is his. This leads it to tell Poseidon who blinded him, adding an extra enemy on Odysseus’s list.
What kind of place is the island of Aeolia? It floats
Why does Aeolus not grant Odysseus and his men hospitality upon their second arrival at the floating island? Because they were cursed by the gods
What kind of xenia (hospitality) do Odysseus’ men encounter among the Laestrygonians? How does it compare to their meeting with Polyphemus? It was just as bad, Circe turned Odysseus’s men into farm animals
What kind of xenia (hospitality) does Circe offer to Odysseus’ men? She turns them into farm animals
How does Hermes help Odysseus? What does he look like? He told him to eat the herb moli. He was very handsome.
What is Odysseus’ response to Circe’s invitation to make love? What does this say about the power of an oath? He told her that she couldn’t cast any magic on him. People must obey oaths they are very powerful things.
Why does Odysseus briefly consider killing his own friend and kinsman Eurylochus? What does this tell us about Odysseus’ character? Eurylochus was badmouthing him. Odysseus is short tempered and hates when his ego is hurt.
Why must Odysseus seek the ghost of Theban Tiresias? To get home
What caused Elpenor’s death? He fell off of Circe’s roof.
What kind of sacrifice does Odysseus offer to the dead? Sweet milk and honey, sweet wine, clear water, barley. Then he vowed to slaughter his best cow and a black lamb.
Why do you think that Elpenor is the first shade (psyche) which Odysseus encounters? It was one of the most recent deaths related to Odysseus.
What does Teiresias tell Odysseus he must do to rid himself of the anger of Poseidon? He has to make a fair offering to Poseidon.
What is the point of the scene when the shades of women appear to Odysseus? Why do you suppose that Odysseus tells his hosts that he must stop his story at this point? (336) Why does he agree to continue his story ( He is realizing all of the people he killed had a family, and were a parent, sibling, or child of someone. He blamed himself for all of these deaths. He continues his story, because in order to atone for his sins, he must come to terms with them.
How does the shade of Agamemnon reinforce information in books 1 (40ff) and 4 (543ff) when he tells Odysseus of his homecoming He was killed by his wife. This is possibly karma for being such a terrible human being.
What advice does Agamemnon’s shade offer to Odysseus? How does he compare and contrast Clytemnestra and Penelope? Never tell a woman all you know. Penelope wouldn’t kill Odysseus, she is smarter than that. 198-199
What is Achilles’ shade most concerned about, and how does Odysseus make him happy? Achilles is most concerned about Odysseus wasting his life for glory. Odysseus makes him happy by telling him his son’s accomplishments.
Why did Telemonian Ajax’ shade refuse to speak to Odysseus? He was mad at Odysseus
What do Tityos, Tantalus, and Sisyphus have in common? They are all sons of Gaia
How does Heracles differ from the other shades in this book? What did he look like? He was a god. He wore lots of gold. He is a vast figure.
What causes Odysseus’ interview with the dead to end so abruptly? Persephone brought some saurian death’s head.

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