The Odyssey Characters

Odysseus The protagonist of the Odyssey. Odysseus fought among the other Greek heroes at Troy and now struggles to return to his kingdom in Ithaca. Husband of Penelope and father of Telemachus. Favorite of Athena and enemy of Poseidon.
Telemachus 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.
Penelope 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.
Athena Daughter of Zeus. Athena assists Odysseus and Telemachus with divine powers throughout the epic, and she speaks up for them in the councils of the gods. She disguises herself as Mentor, an old friend of Odysseus.
Poseidon God of the sea. He is the divine antagonist.. He hates Odysseus because he blinded his son, the Cyclops Polyphemus. He constantly gives him a hard time to get home.
Zeus King of gods and men. He 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.
Antinous The most arrogant of Penelope’s suitors. Leads the campaign to have Telemachus killed. He is the first to die when Odysseus returns.
Eurymachus A manipulative, deceitful suitor. His charisma and duplicity allow him to exert some influence over the other suitors.
Amphinomus Among the dozens of suitors, the only decent man seeking Penelope’s hand in marriage. He speaks up for Odysseus and Telemachus but is killed like the rest of the suitors in the end.
Eumaeus The loyal shepherd who, along with the cowherd Philoetius, helps Odysseus reclaim his throne after his return to Ithaca.
Eurcleia The aged loyal servant who nursed Odysseus and Telemachus when they were babies.
Melanthius The brother of Melantho. Melanthius is a treacherous and opportunistic goatherd who supports the suitors, especially Eurymachus, and abuses the beggar who appears in the palace not realizing it is Odysseus.
Melantho Sister of Melanthius and maidservant in the palace. She abuses the beggar in the palace, not knowing it is Odysseus.
Calypso The beautiful nymph who falls in love with Odysseus when he lands on her island-home of Ogygia. Calypso holds him prisoner there for seven years until Hermes, persuades her to let him go.
Polyphemus One of the Cyclopes whose island Odysseus comes to soon after leaving Troy. He imprisons Odysseus and the crew and tries to eat them.Odysseus cleverly blinds Polyphemus and escapes but angers Poseidon.
Circe The beautiful witch-goddess who transforms Odysseus’s crew into swine when he lands on her island. With Hermes’ help, Odysseus resists Circe’s powers and then becomes her lover, living in luxury at her side for a year.
Laertes Odysseus’s aging father, who resides on a farm in Ithaca. In despair and physical decline. Laertes regains his spirit when Odysseus returns and eventually kills Antinous’s father.
Tiresias A Theban prophet who inhabits the underworld. Tiresias meets Odysseus when Odysseus journeys to the underworlds in Book 11. He shows Odysseus how to get back to Ithaca.
Nestor King of Pylos and a former warrior in the Trojan war. Telemachus goes to him to learn more about his father, but Nestor doesn’t know of his whereabouts.
Menelaus King of Sparta, brother of Agamemnon, and husband of Helen. He offers assistance in his quest to find Odysseus.
Helen Wife of Menelaus. She offers assistance to Telemachus in his quest to find Odysseus.
Agamemnon Former king of Mycenae, brother of Menelaus, and commander of the Achaean forces at Troy. Odysseus meets him in Hades because he was murdered by his wife and other when arriving home.
Nausicaa The beautiful daughter of King Alcinous and Queen Arete of the Phaecians. She discovers Odysseus on the beach at Scheria and, out of affection, ensures his warm reception at her parents’ palace.
Alcinous King of the Phaeacians, who offers Odysseus hospitality in his island kingdom of Scheria. Alcinous hears the story of Odysseus’s wanderings and provides him with safe passage back to Ithaca.
Arete Queen of the Phaeacians, wife of Alcinous, and mother of Nausicaa. Arete is intelligent and influential. Nausicaa tells Odysseus to make his appeal for assistance to Arete.

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