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Book 5

The Odyssey – Book 5 Calypso (Context)


·        The book starts with an assembly of the gods on Olympus

·        Athene raises her concern that Odysseus is still held captive on Ogygia, where he has been for seven years

·        She reports that Telemachus has gone to Pylos and Sparta to seek news of his father and that the Suitors plan to murder him on his return to Ithaca

·        Zeus tells Athene to bring Telemachus back home safely

·        Zeus order Hermes to go to Calypso and tells her that she must allow Odysseus to leave

·        After 20 days journey, he will reach Phaeacia

·        Zeus predicts what will happen to Odysseus next and how he will return home

·        Hermes travels to Ogygia and find Calypso weaving in her cavern

·        Odysseus is crying on the beach

·        Calypso recognises Hermes as a fellow-god and offers him hospitality

·        Hermes informs Calypso that she must release Odysseus as he is destined to reach his home

·        Calypso becomes angry and says that goddesses are never permitted to form lasting relationships with mortal men

·        She reminds Hermes that Odysseus is only alive thanks to rescuing him, but agrees to let him leave

·        Calypso goes to Odysseus and organises raft building, tools & material, food &drink for the voyage, clothing and a following wind.

·        She repeats her offer to make Odysseus immortal if he stays with her

·        Their last night is pleasurable

·        It takes Odysseus four days to  build a raft; he leaves on the fifth

·        Odysseus navigates by the stars for eighteen days, where he then sights Phaeacia

·        Poseidon sees Odysseus at sea and creates a great storm

·        Odysseus fears that he might drown, but is saved by Ino

·        Ino tells him to take off his clothes, and gives him a veil to tie around his waist

·        Once he reaches dry land, he must throw the veil into the sea without looking back

·        Athene checks the wind, which she summons, to flatten the waves

·        Odysseus is buffeted by the storm at seas for 2 days and 2 nights

·        On the third day he sights land, but there is nowhere for him to come ashore

·        Athene puts it into his head to grab hold of a aged rock as he is swept into the coastline

·        Athene then gives him the idea of swimming along the coast to find a river

·        He prays to the god of river for sanctuary

·        The river god checks his current and Odysseus lands safely

·        He removes Ino’s veil and throws it into the sea

·        He makes himself a “nest” of leaves in the woods, and Athene helps him sleep



Odyssey Book 5 – Calypso – Recap Questions


1.      At the start of book 5, which island is Odysseus on?

a.      Ogygia

2.      How long has he been there?

a.      Seven years

3.      Before Odysseus reached this island, where was his previous downfall?

a.      Hyperion’s island

4.      Why did Odysseus arrive at Ogygia on his own?

a.      Crew killed after they ate Hyperion’s cattle

5.      Who is Calypso’s father?

a.      Atlas

6.      What is Calypso’s status?

a.      Demi-Goddess

7.      What is Calypso doing when Hermes arrives at her home?

a.      Singing and weaving (a motif for a good woman)

8.      Why does Calypso say that goddesses have a raw deal? Which other two goddesses does she cite as examples?

a.      Male gods are allowed to fall in love with mortals yet female goddesses are not allowed. Demeter and Dawn (Eos)

9.      What had Calypso offered to Odysseus?

a.      Immortality, if he stayed with her on the island

10.  How many days, after setting sail from Calypso’s island, does Odysseus sight land?

a.      On the 18th day

11.  When Poseidon catches sight of Odysseus on his raft, where has he (Poseidon) been?

a.      Ethiopia accepting a sacrifice

12.  Why does Poseidon send a storm to wreck Odysseus’ raft?

a.      He is still angered at Odysseus for blinding his son, Polyphemus

13.  Which three gods save Odysseus from drowning and enable him to read land safely?

a.      Ino

b.      Athene

c.      River god

14.  What is the specific action of each of these three gods?

a.      Ino gave Odysseus the veil that prevents him from drowning. She advised him to leave his raft, swim for shore and remove his clothes

b.      Athene calms the winds and gives him the idea of holding onto the rocks to find land

c.      River god slows down the current so Odysseus can swim up the river to land

15.  Where does Odysseus land at the end of book 5?

a.      Phaeacia

16.  In the ancient world, which place was identified his country and why?

a.      Corfu – ship turned to stone by Poseidon

17.  Where does Odysseus go to sleep at the end of book 5?

a.      Between two olive trees – one is wild and the other is cultivated