The Odyssey Plot

The Odyssey Plot
image from here


Odysseus is a hero of the Trojan War who was stuck on Calypso's island for seven years. Calypso was a nymph who kidnapped Odysseus and wanted to marry him. At his home, suitors are draining his son's money by courting his father's wife.

The main theme of the Odyssey is going home, as that is what Odysseus does throughout the entire story. Two secondary themes are vengeance and justice, both portrayed when Odysseus comes back home and kills the suitors who were courting his wife and eating up his property.

Telemachus, Odysseus' son, is inspired by Athena to go and look for his father. Telemachus goes first to Nestor and then to the king of the Spartans, Menelaus, but after finding out they don't know about his fate, goes back home.

Meanwhile, Odysseus is still on Calypso's island. Zeus sends Hermes to ask Calypso to let Odysseus go, and she does, helping him build a raft to carry him home.

However, after sailing for some time, Odysseus gets spotted by Poseidon, who wrecks his ship. Odysseus is helped by Athena to get back to land, and is helped by the king's daughter Nausicaa to get aid from her father.

The king hosts games for Odysseus, and a bard sings songs about the Trojan War. Odysseus starts crying at this, and the king asks him what his name is and asks him to tell his story.

Rising Action

Odysseus tells of how he and his comrades started going home after the Trojan war, looting towns and fighting many people along the way. He also tells of how they got trapped on an island with a cyclops.

The hideous beast ate some of his comrades and trapped Odysseus and other soldiers in his cave. Odysseus and his friends got out by blinding the cyclops and sneaking out.

Next, Odysseus and his companions get to the island of Aeolus, the god of the wind, who gives them a favorable wind and sack of wind to Odysseus. The sailors are about to get back to Ithaca when one of them opens the sack, and they are taken back to their starting place.

Odysseus and Co. get attacked by the Laestrygonians and then get to Circe's island, who turns some of Odysseus' men into pigs, but after Odysseus resists her spells, she becomes friends with him and tells him to go to the underworld to speak with a prophet named Teiresias to find what happens in his future. Teiresias informs Odysseus that suitors are ravaging his lands and he will get back home and kill them.

Odysseus goes back to Circe's island, where she tells him where to go next. He sails past the island of Scylla, a monster with six heads, and a gigantic whirlpool called Charybdis. After getting past these obstacles, he makes it to the island of the sun-god, where Odysseus' men kill his cattle while their captain is asleep. Helios complains to Zeus about this "catastrophe", and the master of the gods strikes Odysseus' ship with a thunderbolt. Odysseus survives and washes up on Calypso's island.

After this harrowing tale, the king gives Odysseus a ship and sends him back home. When he arrives, he meets Athena, and she disguises him as a poor man. He then finds his friend, Eumaeus, who tells him about the suitors ravaging his home.

Eumaeus asks Odysseus what his story is, and after Odysseus says that he is a beggar traveling between cities, Eumaeus tells him of how he was once the prince of an island who got kidnapped by his nursemaid and sold to the king of Ithaca.

Meanwhile, Telemachus is told by Athena to go back home, so he takes leave of Menelaus to go home. Before he leaves, he is given a silver bowl and a dress for the lady who would be his wife. Athena also tells Telemachus that the suitors are waiting in ambush at home.

Soon, Telemachus comes back home and goes straight to Eumaeus' house, where he meets Odysseus (still disguised as a poor beggar). Telemachus asks Eumaeus to go to his grandfather's house and tell him he returned because the old man hadn't eaten since his grandson left.

After Eumaeus leaves, Athena makes Odysseus handsome again, and he tells Telemachus that he is his father. They formulate a plan to destroy the suitors and when Eumaeus gets back home, put it into action.

First, Telemachus goes back home to tell his mother that he's still alive. She is delighted at this, and he asks her to pray to the gods that they might be freed from the suitors.

Meanwhile, Odysseus and Eumaeus go throughout the city. Odysseus begs from the suitors to see if they are kind or cruel, and most of them give him food, but some, like Antinous, were very cruel and enjoyed kicking and abusing the "beggar". Antinous even threw a footstool at him! However, the other suitors told him to stop because the old beggar might be a god, but Antinous doesn't listen.

Later, a tramp named Irus tells Odysseus he's on his turf and he better get off unless he wants to be beaten up. The suitors encourage the fight and it soon begins. Odysseus takes off his shirt, revealing large muscles (increased in size by Athena) and punches Irus in the jaw, breaking it.

Penelope is inspired by Athena to tell the suitors she won't marry until they gave her presents. At this, the suitors start handing her lavish presents, like dresses, brooches, and other valuable items.

Melantho, a lady of the palace, angers Odysseus by calling him names, and he adds her to his hit list. Later, another suitor throws a chair at Odysseus, thus getting added to the ever-growing hit list.

Next, Odysseus (disguised as a beggar) goes to talk to Penelope. He tells her that he saw Odysseus a few years ago, and he heard news that her husband was getting ready to go home, and he had a load of treasure. Penelope is cheered up at this, but doesn't fully believe him, and she treats him well, giving him food, a room to stay in, and a bath.

Later, Odysseus gets recognized by his former nurse because of a scar he had on the leg, and we hear a story of how, when he was a young man, he got gored by a boar in his leg while he was hunting it. That evening, Odysseus broods on killing the suitors.

Before he falls asleep, Athena comes to Odysseus and tells him that she will help him defeat the suitors, and he should get some rest. Odysseus takes her advice and falls asleep.


The next day, Odysseus prays to Zeus, asking him to send him a sign that he will defeat the suitors. Zeus sends a thunderclap out of a cloudless sky, and nearby, Odysseus hears a mill-woman praying to Zeus to rid them of the suitors. Odysseus takes this as a good omen and is cheered.

Later that day, the suitors arrive at the palace. It is a feast day, and soon Eumaeus and Telemachus arrive in the palace courtyard. A third man, named Philoetius, soon joined Eumaeus, Telemachus, and Odysseus.

Meanwhile, the suitors were hatching a plan to murder Telemachus, but they see a sign that their plan will not work, so they give it up. Later, while they are eating, a prophet named Theoclymenus comes in and tells the suitors they are going to die that day. They don't believe him and laugh at him.

Later, Penelope is inspired by Athena to take her husband's bow and tell the suitors that whoever can string the bow and then shoot an arrow through twelve axe handle-holes would be able to marry her.

Telemachus tries to string the bow to end the competition and keep his mother home, but fails, and the suitors' priest and Eurymachus do the same, but they too fail. Antinous says that they should first sacrifice to Apollo and then try to string the bow.

Finally, Odysseus reveals himself to Eumaeus and the stockman, and they rejoice and say that they will help him take revenge on the suitors. He tells them to lock the doors of the palace and let no one in. Then he goes inside and asks for the bow.

The suitors don't want to give Odysseus the bow because they don't want to be shamed, but Eumaeus takes it to him anyway, and Odysseus strings it and shoots an arrow through the axe-handles. Telemachus then arms himself and comes to his father's side.

Odysseus shoots Antinous through the throat while the suitor was drinking his wine. At this, the other suitors are outraged. They threaten Odysseus with death because they think he shot their friend accidentally.

Then, the "beggar" tells the suitors he's Odysseus. They try to save their lives by telling him they will repay him, but Odysseus doesn't agree and starts shooting them with his bow.

However, Melanthius the goatherd brings the suitors weapons. At this point, Athena joins the fight on Odysseus' side and makes all the suitors' spear-thrusts miss. The king of Ithaca tells the swineherd and stockman to find the person giving the suitors weapons and tie him up.

They do as he told them, and soon come back and help Odysseus finish the job. Only a bard named Phemius and a man named Medon are spared from the massacre.

Next, Odysseus asks his nurse to give him sulfur, so he can purify the house. After doing this, he hangs the maids who were mean to him.

Falling Action

The nurse goes to Penelope and informs her that Odysseus came back home and killed all the suitors. First, she thinks the nurse is crazy, and then tells her that it's probably a god who came to kill the suitors. However, the nurse persuades Penelope to come and see for herself.

When Penelope sees Odysseus, she doesn't immediately recognize him because of the old clothes and his shabby appearance.

Odysseus tells everyone to go and wash themselves to look like they're having a party. When he comes back, he looks very handsome.

Penelope tells her nursemaid to get Odysseus' bed out of his room, so he can take a nap. Odysseus scoffs at this and tells her that she won't be able to get the bed out because he built it into an olive tree.

At this, Penelope knows he's her husband and is overjoyed. Penelope and Odysseus exchange stories of what happened in his absence.

The next day, Odysseus goes to inform his father that he got home. He finds him working in his vineyard. At first, Odysseus tries to pretend that he's someone else, but when his father breaks down crying at "news of his son", Odysseus reveals himself to him, and they go and eat. Odysseus convinces his father it's him by telling him the trees he was given.

Later, the parents of the suitors come to meet with Odysseus. They say that he isn't fit to be the king of Ithaca. Odysseus' father (Laertes) sends a spear through the head of Antinous' father. Then, Athena appears and tells them to make up or Zeus would be angry.


Everyone lives happily ever after!!!



Odysseus is the king of Ithaca. He is the main character of The Odyssey and the Iliad. Odysseus is notable because of his intelligence. He and his soldiers managed to get out of the cave of the cyclops by deceiving him and then blinding him instead of using brute force. He is also a good leader because his soldiers trust and follow him. Odysseus is a faithful husband because he prefers to be with his wife than be immortal and marry Calypso. Odysseus shows his bravery by going to talk to Circe, a goddess who liked to turn people into animals. He cares about his men, and we see this when he begged Circe to make them humans again.

When Eumaeus asks Odysseus to tell him his story, it is shown that our main character is very creative because he makes up a story about his life as a beggar on the spot. He manages to trick Eumaeus with his story. Odysseus cares about his son, and this is shown by how much he cries when he meets him for the first time in years. He is also very clever, formulating a plan in just the time it took for Eumaeus to get back home.

Odysseus is a skilled actor, as is shown when he behaves like an old beggar. He convinces everyone in the town of his assumed identity and doesn't kill Antinous when the suitor abused him, even though he really wanted to.

Even though Odysseus is noted for his intelligence, that doesn't mean he is a weakling. As a matter of fact, he is strong, as is shown when he breaks Irus' jaw with one punch. Odysseus is merciful, he doesn't kill the man and warns him to not fight. He trusts his son, and plans includes him in his plans of killing the suitors. Odysseus shows he loves his wife by telling her a story about her husband to cheer her up. Even if the story was fake, it had the desired effect.

Even though Odysseus is intelligent, he is still superstitious. He thinks that a thunderclap in a sky with no clouds is a good omen.

Odysseus shows his self-restraint when he doesn't kill the suitors, the nasty maids, and the goatherd at a whim, instead he waits until the right time. He realizes that he can't fight them all by himself, so he determines whom to trust.

Odysseus is prudent by only revealing himself to his allies. He promises them rewards if they help him, giving them another incentive to fight other than loyalty.

Odysseus is very violent in his vengeance, killing all the suitors who were in his house. However, he is reasonable, as is shown when he didn't kill the bard and Medon when his son told him they were good men.


Telemachus is Odysseus' son. He loves his father and is concerned about his fate, so the young man goes in search for him. Telemachus is a favorite of Athena because he offers her many sacrifices. She helps him in many situations. Telemachus shows his bravery by gearing up to fight the suitors who wanted to ambush him instead of trying to avoid them. Telemachus is an obedient son, he does exactly as his father tells him. He stands up for what is right, and he shows this strength when he tells Ctesippus that if he hit Odysseus with the heifer's foot, he would have stabbed him. He is humble when he admitted that he couldn't string the bow. Telemachus is loyal to his father, and comes to his side before the battle with the suitors starts.


Calypso is a nymph who loves Odysseus. She is selfish and kidnapped him and kept him on her island in the hopes of making him immortal and eventually marrying him. Calypso doesn't care for what Odysseus wants, and only lets him go when she is told to by Zeus.


Polyphemus is a cyclops who lives on an island. He is a shepherd who has many sheep and rams. Polyphemus likes eating men and is very cruel and greedy. He was defeated because of his greed, when he ate two of Odysseus' companions and then drank a large draft of strong wine. His drunkenness gave Odysseus the chance to blind him.


Circe is a goddess who likes turning people into different animals by using spells and drugs. She keeps these animals as pets. She helped Odysseus by telling him what to do after coming to her island.


Eumaeus is a swineherd. He is very kind and is loyal to Odysseus. Eumaeus shows his kindness by giving his master some food, even when he didn't know it was him. He hates the suitors because of their greed and is happy when he hears that Odysseus is coming home to get rid of them. He wants to help Odysseus kill the suitors.


Antinous leads the suitors. He is proud, cruel, and violent. He hit Odysseus with a footstool when the "old beggar" didn't do anything to aggravate him. Antinous wishes Telemachus dead and hates Odysseus. Antinous didn't try to string the bow when he knew he couldn't, which indicates that he's not stupid.


Penelope is Odysseus' wife. She thinks Odysseus is dead, but doesn't want to marry any of the suitors. Her cleverness is shown when she tells them that she will marry when she finishes a tapestry, but during the night, Penelope takes it apart to stall the suitors.

She gets back some of the money the suitors wasted by telling them they can't marry her until they give her gifts.

Penelope misses Odysseus very much, as is shown when she cries when the man himself (beggar version) tells her about his imminent return. She is also very kind to Beggar Odysseus, who is a stranger to her, by giving him food, a room to stay in, and a bath. She takes his side when he wants to string the bow and the suitors don't want to let him.

Penelope is a cautious and wise person, verifying Odysseus' legitimacy by giving him a riddle to solve. She is overjoyed when he proves himself, which shows she loves him.


Irus is a beggar tramp who is very foolish and violent. He challenges Odysseus to a fight over who would get to beg from the suitors. Odysseus warns him against this, but the man wishes to fight anyway, so Odysseus breaks his jaw.


Philoetius is a stockman. He is described as well-disposed and a man of sense by Odysseus, who tells him that his master will come and destroy the suitors and asks him if he will help. The man says that he will.


Melanthius is a goatherd. He is loyal to the suitors and acts very meanly to Beggar Odysseus. He is on Odysseus' hit list.