Study Help Essay Questions


1. The Telemachus subplot is a traditional coming-of-age story. What standard elements does this subplot share with other coming-of-age stories? Why and in what way does the prince change?

2. Consider two of the following as symbols — Odysseus' great bow, the shroud that Penelope weaves for Laertes, the island of Ithaca, or the sea itself — and explain their significance in the story.

3. How does the theme of vengeance work in the epic? Approach it from the points of view of Telemachus and Poseidon, as well as Odysseus.

4. Who is your favorite female character and why? Consider immortals as well as mortals.

5. A major theme in The Odyssey is reciprocity: people getting what they deserve. Explain how this theme affects the main characters: Odysseus, Penelope, Antinous, Telemachus.

6. The Odyssey contains certain literary devices common to primary epics. List these devices and explain their purpose. If you could change one of Homer's techniques in telling the story, what would it be? Why?

7. As an epic hero, Odysseus possesses many exemplary qualities. List and explain how they benefit him. What are his less admirable characteristics and how do these qualities cause him harm?

8. Compare and contrast the society of the Phaeacians with the lifestyle of the Cyclops and explain how these two societies represent the theme of hospitality. Then discuss the significance of hospitality to Homeric Greeks.