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The Odyssey | Book Summaries

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Timeline of Events

  • 10 years before present

    After the Trojan War ends, Odysseus embarks on his journey home to Ithaca.

    Book 5
  • 10 to 7 years before present

    Odysseus and his men face a series of trials sailing home; his men are killed.

    Book 9
  • 7 years before present

    Odysseus's raft washes ashore on the island of Calypso, who holds him captive for 7 years.

    Book 12
  • Very recently

    Odysseus is rescued by Hermes at Athena's request.

    Book 1
  • The present

    Suitors besiege Penelope and Telemachus, and Telemachus leaves to find news of Odysseus.

    Book 1
  • Upon rescue

    Odysseus sails to the land of the Phaeacians and tells of his journey since the end of the war.

    Book 7
  • Days later

    Odysseus returns to Ithaca in disguise and with Telemachus plots revenge on the suitors.

    Book 16
  • Next day

    Odysseus and Telemachus slaughter the suitors with Athena's help.

    Book 22
  • Same day

    Odysseus and Penelope are reunited.

    Book 23
  • Some days later

    Odysseus visits his father and offers a sacrifice to Poseidon so his family can live in peace.

    Book 24

Book Summaries Chart

Book Summary
Book 1 The Odyssey opens with the poet asking the Muse of Epic Poetry, Calliope, to inspire him in the telling of this story. ... Read More
Book 2 Telemachus gathers an assembly of Achaeans to make his case for removing the suitors from his home. The suitors are not ... Read More
Books 3–4 Telemachus and Athena, disguised as Mentor, reach Pylos, King Nestor's land, and witness an enormous ceremony in which... Read More
Book 5 Book 5 opens on Mount Olympus at another council of the gods. Athena once again asks Zeus to assist Odysseus, and Zeus d... Read More
Books 6–7 Athena schemes to introduce Odysseus to the daughter of the Phaeacian king Alcinous, Nausicaa. She lures Nausicaa and ... Read More
Book 8 Alcinous calls his people to the meeting grounds, unknowingly aided by Athena, who helps rouse interest. He commands his... Read More
Book 9 Now that Alcinous and the Phaeacians know Odysseus's identity, they ask him to relate where he's been since the war ende... Read More
Book 10 Odysseus and his men sailed on and landed at the home of Aeolus, where they stayed for a month. Aeolus, master of the wi... Read More
Book 11 Odysseus followed Circe's instructions and reached the Land of the Dead. There he encountered Elpenor, who demanded a pr... Read More
Book 12 Odysseus resumes his narrative. Because Odysseus promised Elpenor in the Land of the Dead that he would give him a prope... Read More
Books 13–14 With this final story, Odysseus finishes his tale for the Phaeacians. The epic shifts back to the present. He is ready... Read More
Books 15–16 In Book 15 the narrative shifts back to Telemachus, as Athena goes to him and advises him to return home to Ithaca. Sh... Read More
Books 17–18 Odysseus sets off for the palace accompanied by Eumaeus, who still does not know Odysseus's true identity. Telemachus ... Read More
Books 19–20 After the suitors have retired for the evening, Odysseus and Telemachus take action for the next day by hiding all the... Read More
Book 21 The contest begins. Penelope brings out Odysseus's bow, and Telemachus tries and fails to string it three times; on the ... Read More
Book 22 Odysseus removes his rags, prays to Apollo, and then shoots an arrow through Antinous's throat. The other suitors are st... Read More
Book 23 The battle is over, and the scene shifts to Penelope, who has been hiding in her quarters. She still cannot believe that... Read More
Book 24 The final book of The Odyssey opens in a different location from the previous chapter, with Hermes bringing the souls of... Read More
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