IB-A Midterms: The Odyssey, Books I-XII

27 08 2010


Directions: In this exam, the Odyssey has been divided into three sections: Books I-IV, V-VIII and IX-XII. Each section contains two passages, one for HL and one for SL. Choose two passages (which correspond to your selected level) and spend a few moments organizing the outline of your essay.      (SL students shall refer to the corresponding guide questions). Interpret each  selected passage in 250-500 words.

On a word document, write your name and level. Save this as the document name as well. Then email it to bmagallona@my.xs.edu.ph. If you email your exam to the wrong address, this merits an automatic zero.

Books I-IV


Tell me, Muse, of the man of many ways, who was driven far journeys, after he had sacked Troy’s sacred citadel. Many were they whose cities he saw, whose minds he learned of, many the pains he suffered in his spirit on the wide sea, struggling for his own life and the homecoming of his companions. Even so he could not save his companions, hard though he strove to; they were destroyed by their own wild recklessness, fools who devoured the oxen of Helios, the Sun God, and he took away the day of their homecoming. From some point here, goddess, daughter of Zeus, speak, and begin our story.


‘O Nestor, Neleus’ son, great glory of the Achaians, you ask us where we came from. Therefore I will tell you. We come from Ithaka under the mountain Neion. This is a private matter, no public business, of which I tell you. I follow the wide fame of my father, on the chance of hearing of the great patient-hearted Odysseus, the man they say once fought beside you and helped sack the city of the Trojans. For we have been told about all the other men who once fought the Trojans, how each one of them perished in sad destruction, but the son of Kronos has made this man’s death one that none knows. There is no man who can plainly tell us when he perished, whether he was killed on the mainland by men embattled or on the open sea in the billows of Amphitrite.  That is why I come to your knees  now, in case you might wish to tell me of his dismal destruction, whether you saw it perhaps in your own eyes, or heard the tale from another who wandered too. His mother bore this man to be wretched. Do not soften it because you pity me and are sorry for me, but fairly tell me all that your eyes have witnessed. I implore you, if ever noble Odysseus, my father, undertook any kind word or work and fulfilled it for you, in the land of the Trojans where all you Achaians suffered, tell me these things from your memory. And tell me the whole truth.”

Guide questions: Based on the excerpt, hypothesize on how knowledge can help Telemachos in this situation. Reflect on how the absence of the father has affected the life of the son?

Books V-VIII


Then resourceful Odysseus spoke in turn and answered him: “Alkinoos, let something else be in your mind; I am not in any way like the immortals who hold wide heaven, neither in build nor stature, but only to men who are mortal. Whoever it is  of people you know who wear the greatest burden of misery, such are the ones whom I would equal for pain endured, and I could tell of still more troubles that are all mine and by the will of the gods I suffered.”

But when great Odysseus had bathed in the river and washed from his body the salt brine which clung to his back and his broad shoulders, he scraped from his head the scurf of brine from the barren salt sea. But when he had bathed all, and anointed himself with olive oil, and put on the clothing of this unwedded girl had given him, then Athene, daughter of Zeus, made him seem taller for the eye to behold, and thicker, and on his head she arranged the curling locks that hung down like hyacinthine petals. And as when a master craftsman overlays gold on silver, and he is one who was taught by Hephaistos and Pallas Athene in art complete, and grace his head and his shoulders, and he went a little aside and sat by himself on the seashore, radiant in grace and good looks; and the girl admired him.

Guide question: What does the excerpt highlight about Odysseus as his ten-year journey after the Trojan War comes to a close?

Books IX-XII


“…there at that time, my lord, I ask that you remember me, and do not go and leave me behind unwept, unburied, when you leave, for fear I might become the god’s curse upon you; but burn me there with all my armor that belongs to me, and heap up a grave mound beside the beach of the gray sea, for an unhappy man, so that those to come will know of me. “


‘So they spoke, but could not persuade the great heart in me, but once again in the anger of my heart I cried to him: “Cyclops, if any mortal man ever asks you who it was that inflicted upon your eye this shameful blinding, tell him that you were blinded by Odysseus, sacker of cities. Laertes is his father, and he makes his home in Ithaka.”

Guide Question: Did Odysseus make a grave mistake by identifying himself to Polyphemos? Why or why not? What can be his motivation for doing so? Examine this situation by citing references to the events that transpired in the first twelve books of The Odyssey.




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