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The Odyssey | Study Guide


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Learn about characters in Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey with Course Hero’s video study guide.

The Odyssey | Characters

Character Description
Odysseus The protagonist and hero of the book, on a long and arduous journey home from battle. Read More
Telemachus Odysseus's son, who embarks on a journey of his own—from boyhood to manhood. Read More
Penelope Odysseus's wife and Telemachus's mother, she has waited for her husband to come home for 20 years, fending off suitors who have taken over her home. Read More
Athena The goddess of wisdom as well as battle and war, she watches over Odysseus and intervenes on his behalf to get him home safely. Read More
Zeus The ruler of the gods, he is the father of Athena and the brother of Poseidon, as well as the god of wayfarers and hospitality. Read More
Poseidon The god of the sea, who holds a grudge against Odysseus for blinding his son, the Cyclops Polyphemus. Read More
Achilles A warrior friend of Odysseus who died in the Trojan War, he is visited by Odysseus in the Land of the Dead.
Aeolus A master of winds, he gives Odysseus a magical pouch full of seafaring winds to help him on his journey.
Alcinous The king of the Phaeacians, he hosts Odysseus in his kingdom and hears Odysseus's stories about his journey so far.
Amphinomus One of Penelope's suitors, he stands out due to his kindness and reason.
Anticleia Odysseus's mother, she meets him in the Land of the Dead and informs him of what has happened in his home.
Antinous The leader of the suitors, he is the meanest and most antagonistic toward Odysseus when the latter appears in Ithaca in disguise.
Arete The queen of the Phaeacians, she is wife of Alcinous and mother of Nausicaa.
Calypso A nymph, or minor goddess, she kidnaps Odysseus when he lands on her island and keeps him there for seven years.
Circe A minor goddess and sorceress, she falls for Odysseus and keeps him under her spell for a year.
Charybdis This monster has the form of a whirlpool that Odysseus must face and survive.
Demodocus A bard in Alcinous's court, he moves Odysseus to tears when he sings songs about the Trojan War.
Elpenor One of Odysseus's men, he dies during the journey home and must be returned by Odysseus to Ithaca for a proper burial.
Eumaeus A swineherd in Ithaca, he is loyal to Odysseus and aids him in the battle against the suitors.
Eurycleia Odysseus's childhood nurse, she recognizes him by a scar he received as a child.
Eurymachus One of Penelope's suitors, he tries to guide the behavior of other suitors through the power of persuasion.
Halitherses A citizen of Ithaca loyal to Odysseus, he is skilled in reading omens.
Hermes Son of Zeus, he is a messenger god Zeus sends to help Odysseus on occasion.
Laertes Odysseus's father, he has been deeply affected by the disappearance of his son and is reunited with him at the end of the epic.
Menelaus The king of Sparta, who fought with Odysseus in the Trojan War, he recounts his stories about Odysseus to Telemachus.
Mentor A trusted member of Odysseus's household, Mentor is entrusted by Odysseus with teaching and guiding Telemachus while he is away at the Trojan War.
Nausicaa The princess of the Phaeacians, she is the daughter of Alcinous and the first to discover Odysseus in their kingdom.
Nestor The king of Pylos, who fought with Odysseus in the Trojan War, he recounts his stories about Odysseus to Telemachus.
Philoetius A cowherd and loyal servant of Odysseus, he helps the hero exact his revenge on the suitors.
Polyphemus Son of Poseidon, he is a one-eyed Cyclops who is blinded by Odysseus.
Pisistratus Nestor's son, he accompanies Telemachus on his journey.
Scylla This monster with six heads is another danger Odysseus must escape.
Sirens Creatures that live at sea and are disguised as women, they lure sailors to their deaths by singing bewitching songs.
Tiresias A blind prophet, he meets Odysseus in the Land of the Dead and warns him of what's to come.
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