The Odyssey Cheat Sheet
- The protagonist of the
Odysseus fought among the other Greek heroes at Troy
and now struggles to return to his kingdom in Ithaca. Odysseus is the husband of Queen Penelope and
the father of Prince Telemachus. Though a strong and courageous warrior, he is most renowned for his
cunning. He is a favorite of the goddess Athena, who often sends him divine aid, but a bitter enemy of
Poseidon, who frustrates his journey at every turn.
- Odysseus’s son. An infant when Odysseus left for Troy, Telemachus is about twenty at
the beginning of the story. He is a natural obstacle to the suitors desperately courting his mother, but
despite his courage and good heart, he initially lacks the poise and confidence to oppose them. His
maturation, especially during his trip to Pylos and Sparta in Books 3 and 4, provides a subplot to the epic.
Athena often assists him.
- Wife of Odysseus and mother of Telemachus. Penelope spends her days in the palace
pining for the husband who left for Troy twenty years earlier and never returned. Homer portrays her as
sometimes flighty and excitable but also clever and steadfastly true to her husband.
- Daughter of Zeus and goddess of wisdom, purposeful battle, and the womanly arts. Athena
assists Odysseus and Telemachus with divine powers throughout the epic, and she speaks up for them in
the councils of the gods on Mount Olympus. She often appears in disguise as Mentor, an old friend of
- God of the sea. As the suitors are Odysseus’s mortal antagonists, Poseidon is his divine
antagonist. He despises Odysseus for blinding his son, the Cyclops Polyphemus, and constantly hampers
his journey home. Ironically, Poseidon is the patron of the seafaring Phaeacians, who ultimately help to
return Odysseus to Ithaca.
King of gods and men, who mediates the disputes of the gods on Mount Olympus. Zeus is
occasionally depicted as weighing men’s fates in his scales. He sometimes helps Odysseus or permits
Athena to do the same.
- The most arrogant of Penelope’s suitors. Antinous leads the campaign to have
Telemachus killed. Unlike the other suitors, he is never portrayed sympathetically, and he is the first to die
when Odysseus returns.
- A manipulative, deceitful suitor. Eurymachus’s charisma and duplicity allow him to
exert some influence over the other suitors.
- Among the dozens of suitors, the only decent man seeking Penelope’s hand in
marriage. Amphinomus sometimes speaks up for Odysseus and Telemachus, but he is killed like the rest
of the suitors in the final fight.