The Odyssey/Greek Mythology Key Terms

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58 Terms

1

Calypso

A sea nymph that holds Odysseus hostage on her island for 10 years

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2

Penelope

Odysseus' wife who tricks her suitors by spinning and unspinning a funeral shroud

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3

Telemachus

Odysseus' son who tries to banish the suitors at the beginning of the poem

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4

Odysseus

The king of Ithaka and the hero of the Odyssey

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5

Polyphemus

A cyclops who is the son of Poseidon and is eventually blinded by Odysseus and his men

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6

Antinous

One of the main suitors to Penelope. He is constantly bullying Telemachus.

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7

Athena

The goddess of wisdom who helps Telemachus and Odysseus throughout the epic poem

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8

Nausicaa

The princess of the Phaeacians who helps Odysseus receive safe passage back to Ithaka

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9

Hector

The deadliest warrior for the Trojans during the Trojan War

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10

Achilles

The deadliest warrior for the Achaeans during the Trojan War (Greeks)

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11

Poseidon

the god of the sea and earthquakes in ancient mythology; brother of Zeus and Hades and Hera

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12

Zeus

the supreme god of ancient Greek mythology; son of Rhea and Cronus whom he dethroned; husband and brother of Hera; brother of Poseidon and Hades

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13

Hermes

messenger and herald of the gods; god of commerce and cunning and invention and theft

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14

Trireme

the type of ship that the Greeks sailed to Troy and back in

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15

Nestor

a wise old counselor to the Greeks at Troy and the king of Pylos

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16

Epic poem

a long narrative poem telling of a hero's deeds

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17

medias res

a Latin term which literally translates to "in the middle of things"

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18

Agamemnon

the king who lead the Greeks against Troy in the Trojan War

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19

Priam

the last king of Troy; father of Hector and Paris and Cassandra

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20

Paris

The prince of the Trojans who abducts Helen

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21

Helen

The fairest woman in all the world whose abduction leads to the Trojan War

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22

Hera

queen of the Olympian gods in ancient Greek mythology; sister and wife of Zeus remembered for her jealously of the many mortal women Zeus fell in love with

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23

Muses

the sacred beings responsible for poetic, musical, and artistic inspiration

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24

Scylla

a sea nymph transformed into a sea monster who lived on one side of a narrow strait

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25

charybdis

a ship-devouring whirlpool lying on the other side of a narrow strait from Scylla

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26

Lotus Eaters

Islanders that eat from the forbidden lotus plant that makes people cast aside their responsibilities in favor of laziness

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27

Menelaus

the king of Sparta at the time of the Trojan War; brother of Agamemnon; husband of Helen

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28

Aeneas

a mythical Greek warrior who was a leader on the Trojan side of the Trojan War; hero of the Aeneid

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29

Homer

The mythical Greek poet responsible for writing The Odyssey

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30

Aphrodite

goddess of love and beauty and daughter of Zeus in ancient mythology; identified with Roman Venus

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31

Invocation

a prayer asking the muses help as part of writing an epic poem

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32

Aeolus

A king who gives Odysseus a bag of winds that accidently prevent him from getting back home to Ithaka

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33

Ithaka

The home of Odysseus, Penelope, and Telemachus

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34

Circe

a sorceress who detained Odysseus on her island and turned his men into swine

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35

Epithet

A descriptive word or phrase that typically reveals a defining characteristic about someone

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36

Patronym

a family name derived from name of your father or a paternal ancestor added to the name of your father or a paternal ancestor)

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37

Allusion

passing reference or indirect mention to a commonly understood tale, myth, or legend

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38

The Trojan Horse

A massive wooden horse that Odysseus and the Greeks built to sneak into Troy

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39

Helios

ancient god of the sun; Odysseus' men ate his sacred cattle, so Zeus punished them

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40

"Nobody"

The name that Odysseus tells Polyphemus

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41

Cyclops

one of a race of giants having a single eye in the middle of their forehead

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42

Sirens

Humanoid sea creatures that appear as women and lure people to their death with their attractive voices/singing

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43

The Trojan War

The conflict that lasted many years between the city states of mainland Greece and Troy in Asia minor

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44

The Odyssey

A Greek epic poem detailing the adventures of Odysseus following the events of the Trojan War

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45

The Iliad

A Greek epic poem depicting the events of The Trojan War. Its main subject is the rage of Achilles.

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46

Briseis

Achilles' servant who Agamemnon took from him at the beginning of The Iliad

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47

Tiresias

A blind prophet who can foretell the events of the future

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48

Charon

the ferryman who brought the souls of the dead across the river Styx or the river Acheron to Hades

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49

Tantalus

A wicked king and son of Zeus; condemned in Hades to stand in water that receded when he tried to drink and beneath fruit that receded when he reached for it

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50

Sisyphus

A king punished for all of eternity by having to forever push a boulder up a mountain side

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51

Atlas

A titan who was forced to hold up the heavens as a form of punishment

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52

Prometheus

A titan who was punished for giving the gift of fire to humanity by having his liver eaten every day by a massive vulture

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53

Ixion

A man punished by Zeus for trying to sleep with Hera. He is forever spinning on a flaming wheel in the underworld.

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54

Hercules

a hero noted for his strength; performed 12 immense labors to gain immortality

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55

Hades

The god of the underworld in Greek mythology

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56

Argus

Odysseus' loyal dog who dies as soon as he is reunited with his master

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57

Laertes

Odysseus' father who is banished from his household

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58

Xenia

Greek word for hospitality

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