The Odyssey

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The Odyssey Characters

Odysseus

King of Ithaca, husband of Penelope, and father of Telemachus, former commander in the Trojan War, Odysseus is the flawed, beloved hero of this tale of homecoming and revenge. His character is deeply… (read full character analysis)

Telemachus

Odysseus's young son. Telemachus spends his youth helplessly watching the suitors corrupt his household and harass his mother Penelope, but Athena's forceful guidance helps him mature from a nervous youth to a… (read full character analysis)

Penelope

Odysseus's wife and Telemachus's mother. In the beginning of the story, Penelope's most prominent qualities are passivity, loyalty, and patience (along with beauty and skill at the loom) – the age-old feminine virtues… (read full character analysis)

Athena

The goddess of wisdom, justice, and courage. She takes a particular liking to Odysseus, and by extension Telemachus – perhaps because Odysseus's suffering is greater than his crimes, perhaps because he embodies the values… (read full character analysis)

Zeus

King of all the gods, and the god of sky and lightning. He holds assembly on Mount Olympus and negotiates the desires and grievances of the gods. He punishes Odysseus when his crew eats the… (read full character analysis)
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Minor Characters
Mentes
One of Athena's disguises.
Poseidon
A sea god who holds a longstanding grudge against Odysseus for blinding his son, the Cyclops Polyphemus. He makes Odysseus's journey home very long and difficult.
Laertes
Odysseus'sfather, who lives in poverty on a farm.
Anticleia
Odysseus's mother, who died of longing for her son.
Eurycleia
Odysseus's kindly nurse, and the first person to recognize Odysseus in his beggar disguise.
Calypso
A beautiful goddess who falls in love with Odysseus and holds him captive for seven years on the island Ogygia.
Circe
A beautiful witch from the island Aeaea who turns Odysseus's crew into pigs; when Odysseus (with the aid of the drug moly) proves immune to her spell, she falls in love with him and hosts him and his crew on the island.
Antinous
The most insolent and impious suitor. Antinous riles the other suitors to conceive violent schemes against Odysseus and Telemachus, ignores rules of basic decency, and mouths off every chance he gets. He is the first to die in the battle.
Eurymachus
A rude and deceitful suitor.
Eumaeus
The loyal swineherd who helps Odysseus defeat the suitors.
Nestor
King of Pylos, commander in the Trojan War.
Pisistratus
Nestor's son.
Polycaste
Nestor's daughter.
Menelaus
King of Sparta, commander in the Trojan War, Agamemnon's brother.
Helen
Menelaus's wife, famous for her beauty and pivotal role in the Trojan War.
Agamemnon
Menelaus's brother, murdered by his wife's lover when he came home from the Trojan War.
Aegisthus
Clytemnestra's lover, Agamemnon's murderer.
Clytemnestra
Agamemnon's unfaithful wife.
Orestes
Agamemnon's son.
Proteus
A shape-shifting sea god.
Eidothea
Proteus's daughter.
Medon
Herald in Odysseus's court.
Hermes
The messenger god.
Achaeans
A general word that encompasses the Greek civilizations.
Phaeacians
A hospitable people who deliver Odysseus to Ithaca.
Trojans
The people of Troy, the site of the Trojan War.
Ino
A goddess who helps Odysseus reach the Phaeacianshore.
Alcinous
The Phaeacian king who hosts Odysseus very hospitably and helps him return to Ithaca.
Arete
The Phaeacian queen.
Nausicaa
A Phaeacian Princess, daughter of Alcinous.
Demodocus
A bard in Alcinous's court.
Laodamas
A man in Alcinous's court.
Broadsea
A man in Alcinous's court who provokes Odysseus to take part in the athletic contests.
Achilles
A warrior who gained great fame and died in the Trojan War.
Ajax
A warrior in the Trojan War.
Ares
The god of war, Aphrodite's lover.
Aphrodite
The goddess of love, wife of Hephaestus.
Hephaestus
The crippled goldsmith god, jilted husband of Aphrodite.
Helios
The sun god, owner of the Cattle of the Sun.
Cicones
A people that take revenge on Odysseus's crew .
Lotus Eaters
A people who grow and eat the somnolent lotus flower.
Cyclops
Cannibalistic giants who live in caves.
Polyphemus
A Cyclops son of Poseidon whom Odysseus blinds.
Aeolus
The god of wind.
Laestrygonians
Giant cannibals.
Antiphates
King of the Laestrygonians.
Eurylochus
A member of Odysseus's crew who often disobeys Odysseus.
Tiresias
A prophet with whom Odysseus speaks in the underworld.
Elpenor
A member of Odysseus's crew who died by falling off Circe's roof after getting drunk.
Sirens
Creatures disguised as beautiful women whose beautiful singing lures sailors to jump into the sea and drown.
Scylla
A man-eating monster with six heads.
Charybdis
A monster that creates a whirlpool three times a day.
Theoclymenus
A prophet who sails to Ithaca from Sparta with Telemachus.
Amphinomus
A kindly and well-intentioned suitor.
Melanthius
The rude goatherd.
Argos
Odysseus's old dog.
Arnaeus (Irus)
A rude beggar whom Odysseus fights.
Autolycus
Odysseus's grandfather, with whom he got the hunting scar on his knee.
Ctesippus
A rude, violent suitor.
Philoetius
The cowherd that helps Odysseus fight the suitors.
Eupithes
Antinous's father.
Amphimedon
One of the suitors.
Halitherses
A prophet who correctly prophecies that the two eagles tearing each other to pieces is an omen of the suitors coming destruction. However, the suitors mock him and do not listen.