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Telemachia Questions

Book One: Athene Visits Telemachus


1. Why was Poseidon not present at the meeting of the gods in Book 1?

He was visiting/receiving a sacrifice from the Ethiopians at the other end of the world

2. Who is Aegisthus (mentioned on page 4 of the Odyssey)? Who killed him?

Clytaemnestra’s (wife of Agamemnon) lover. Killed by her son, Orestes (seeking revenge for his father.

3. What are we told in Book 1 about the reason for Poseidon’s hatred of Odysseus?

Odysseus blinded his son, the Cyclops Polyphemus

4. Give two epithets used to describe Poseidon on Page 5 of the Odyssey

Poseidon the Earth Shaker

Poseidon Sustainer of the Earth

5. Why does Hermes have the epithet “the Giant-Killer?”

He killed the hundred eyed giant, Argus (allusion to another myth)

6. Which two cities does Athene say that she is going to send Telemachus to? What specific reasons does she give (on page 6) for sending him there?

Pylos and Sparta to hear news of his father and win the praise of men

7. Whom does Athene disguise herself as, when she visits Telemachus in Book 1?

Mentes, family friend of Odysseus and Taphian chieftain

8. What is the name of the resident bard at Odysseus’ palace?


9. Name the four islands that collectively make up Odysseus’ kingdom and which the 108 Suitors all come from. (They are listed on page 10)

Ithaca, Dulichium, Same and Zacynthus

10. What does Athene say that Telemachus should do, if he learns that his father is still alive?

Reconcile himself to one more year of the situation with the Suitors

11. What does Athene say that Telemachus should so, if he learns that his father is dead?

Return to Ithaca and build a mound with all the proper funeral rites and give Penelope to a new husband

12. What is the name of Penelope’s father?


13. Homer never refers to the Greeks as “the Greeks”. Give two terms that he uses in Book 1 to refer to the Greeks.



14. Who is Eurycleia?

Odysseus and Telemachus’ nurse maid


Book Two: The Debate in Ithaca

15. What stock phrase does Homer use to describe daybreak?

Rosy Fingered Dawn

16. Why is the Odyssey full of this type of repeated stock phrase?

Composed in Dactylic Hexameter so stock phrases are easier for the bard to remember

17. According to Aegyptius in Book 2, how long is it since the Ithacan assembly last met?

20 years

18.  What does Telemachus do, after making his first speech to the assembly on page 19?

Bursts into tears and flings his staff to the floor

19. Antinous blames Penelope for exacerbating the situation. What does he claim Penelope has been doing, to make matters worse?

Deceiving them with the shroud trick; Penelope has said once she has finished weaving the shroud she will choose one of the Suitors. However, she is unpicking it at night to delay making a decision to re-marry 

20. What is a shroud? For whom is Penelope weaving a shroud?

A burial cloth. It is for Laertes, Odysseus’ father.

21. How did the Suitors eventually discover Penelope’s “shroud trick”?

A disloyal maid reveals the secret

22. How many years have the Suitors been in Odysseus’ palace?

Three whole years, almost four

23. Who are the Furies and why does Telemachus say he would have cause to fear them? (on page 21)

Goddesses of retribution.
His mother would call on them if he was to send her away

24. What omen does Zeus send to the assembly in Ithaca?

Two Eagles



25. Halitherses claimed that he made a prophecy when Odysseus set sail for Troy. What did the prophecy say?

That Odysseus would return home in the 20th year, after much suffering, having lost all his comrades and no one would know him when he came.

26. What epithet is used to describe Pylos?

Sandy Pylos

27. Who is Mentor? (see page 23)

Odysseus’ Steward

28. Athene disguises herself as two people in Book 2. Who are they?



Book Three: Telemachus with Nestor

29. When Telemachus arrives at Pylos, Nestor is making a big sacrifice on the beach. What is he sacrificing and to whom?

Black bulls to Poseidon

30. Give any one epithet used by Homer to describe Nestor?

The Gerenian charioteer
Son of Neleus

31. Nestor mentions four Greek heroes who died at Troy (on page 33). Name them.

Achilles, Ajax, Patroclus
Antilochus – his own son

32. Who are the “sons of Atreus”?

Agamemnon + Menelaus

33. What was unusual about the assembly called in the Greek camp, prior to the departure of the Greeks from Troy?

Held at Sunset so the troops arrived drunk!

34. In the short “nostoi” stories he tells on pages 35-36, Nestor lists four Greek heroes who arrived home quickly and safely from Troy. Who are they?

N.B: Nostoi means “returns”. Diomedes, Neoptolemus, Philoctetes, Idomeneus

35. According to Nestor, how many years did Clytaemnestra and Aegisthus rule in Mycenae after the murder of Agamemnon?

7 years

36. In what manner does Athene (disguised as Mentor) leave Nestor’s company? What does Nestor immediately realise as a result?

Takes the form of a vulture & flies off. Nestor realises Telemachus has a guardian goddess

37. Who accompanies Telemachus to Sparta and what form of transport do they use to get there?

Peisistratus, Nestor’s son

Chariot + horses


Book Four: Menelaus and Helen

38. Who was the daughter of Menelaus and Helen? Who is she about to marry in Odyssey Book 4?

Neoptolemus (Achilles’ son)

39. Who is Megapenthes?

Menelaus son by a slave

40. Who is Eteoneus and why does Menelaus rebuke him?

Menelaus’ squire
He asked Menelaus whether or not he should turn Telemachus and Peisistratus away
This is bad xenia

41. Give any two epithets used to describe Menelaus in Book 4

Auburn haired Menelaus
Son of Atreus

42. When Helen enters the room, on page 48, to which goddess does Homer compare her? Why is this a rather unexpected comparison?

Artemis – she is a virgin goddess and Helen famously ran away with Paris (starting the Trojan war)


43. Which aspect of Odysseus’ appearance does Menelaus compare to Telemachus’ appearance on page 49?

Odysseus’ feet, hands, the movement of his eyes, shape of his head and the way his hair grew

44. Helen tells a story about how Odysseus infiltrated the city of Troy, during the Trojan War. What disguise did he assume to do so?

A beggar

45. Menelaus tells a story which puts Helen in a rather more dubious light, about how she nearly gave away the Greeks hidden inside the wooden horse. What did she do, that nearly revealed their hiding place?

Walked around the outside of the Trojan horse, calling out the name of the Argive chieftains in turn, mimicking their wives’ voices.

46. Who was Proteus and which island was his home?

Old man of the sea, a “shape shifter”

47. How did Menelaus conceal himself when he was waiting for Proteus?

Covered himself and three crew members with seal skins

48. According to Proteus’ story, which Greek warrior was drowned in a shipwreck by Poseidon on the way home?

Ajax (the lesser)

49. Where, according to Proteus is Odysseus currently being held captive?

In the nymph Calypso’s home

50. What xenia (hospitality) gift does Menelaus initially offer to Telemachus? Why does Telemachus refuse it? What does Menelaus offer him instead?

Three horses and a splendid chariot + Cup

Telemachus says that Ithaca is too rocky, no room or meadows so Menelaus instead