The Odyssey By Homer Character List

Human Beings and One Faithful Dog

Odysseus The central figure in the epic, he employs guile as well as courage to return to Ithaca, defeat the suitors, and resume his proper place as king.

Penelope Wife of Odysseus and mother of their son, Telemachus, she is shrewd and faithful in fending off the suitors.

Telemachus Son of Odysseus and Penelope, the prince struggles to gain his own maturity while attempting to deal with the problems of the palace.

Laertes Odysseus' father, the old king lives humbly and in solitude on a small farm where he mourns the absence of his son; once reunited with Odysseus, he is restored to dignity.

Anticleia Odysseus' mother, she dies grieving her son's long absence and sees him only during his visit to the Land of the Dead.

Eurycleia Faithful old nurse to Odysseus (as well as Telemachus), she identifies her master when she recognizes an old scar on his leg.

Eumaeus and Philoetius Odysseus' loyal swineherd and cowherd, they assist him in his return to Ithaca and stand with the king and prince against the suitors.

Argos Trained by Odysseus some twenty years before, the discarded old dog, dying on a dung heap, recognizes his master as Odysseus and Eumaeus approach the palace.

Antinous and Eurymachus The two leading suitors, they differ in that Antinous is more physically aggressive while Eurymachus is a smooth talker.

Eupithes Father of Antinous, he leads the suitors' families and friends who seek revenge for the slaughter and is killed by Laertes.

Melanthius and Melantho Odysseus' disloyal goatherd and an insolent palace maidservant, these two are representative of those who serve their master poorly, and each is rewarded with a grisly death.

Agamemnon King of Mycenae and commander of the Greek expedition to Troy, he was assassinated by his wife and her lover upon his return home. Homer frequently refers to him, comparing Penelope favorably to Agamemnon's wife, Clytemnestra. Odysseus sees him in the Land of the Dead.

Tiresias The blind seer of Thebes, he meets Odysseus in the Land of the Dead, warns him of impending dangers, offers advice, and foretells a later quest and a long life.

Alcinous King of the Phaeacians, he encourages Odysseus to tell the story of his wanderings and helps the hero return to Ithaca.

Nausicaa Daughter of Alcinous and Queen Arete, she finds Odysseus when he washes ashore on Phaeacia and expresses an attraction toward him.

Gods, Monsters, and Supernatural Beings

Zeus King of the gods, he is somewhat unpredictable but usually supports wayfaring suppliants, hospitality, and his daughter Athena in her concern for Odysseus.

Athena Sometimes called "Pallas Athena" or "Pallas," she frequently intervenes on Odysseus' or Telemachus' behalf, often in disguise and sometimes as Mentor, the prince's adviser.

Polyphemus Also known as "the Cyclops," the one-eyed cannibal giant who traps Odysseus and a scouting party in his cave and is blinded when they escape.

Poseidon God of the sea and father of Polyphemus, he seeks revenge on Odysseus for blinding his son.

Calypso A goddess-nymph, she holds Odysseus captive for seven years, sleeping with him, hoping to marry him, and releasing him only at Zeus' order.

Circe A goddess-enchantress who turns some of Odysseus' crew into swine, she reverses the spell and becomes Odysseus' lover for a year, advising him well when he departs.

Aeolus Master of the winds, he helps Odysseus get within viewing distance of Ithaca but later abandons the voyager, concluding that anyone so unlucky must be cursed.

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