IB-B The Odyssey Books I-XII Exam

27 08 2010

Directions: Choose two passages below and spend a few moments organizing the outline of your essay. SL students, refer to the corresponding guide questions. Interpret each  selected passage in 250-500 words.

You are NOT allowed to search online and use your e-book in answering the exam. Internet connection will only be allowed in the last ten minutes of the session for emailing your paper (jnicolay@my.xs.edu.ph).

Books I-IV


Penelope spoke to him as he stepped over the threshold: “Herald, on what errand have the proud suitors sent you? Is it to tell the serving maids of godlike Odysseus to stop their work, so as to prepare the suitors a dinner? Could this not be the last and the latest time of their dining here, whether coming to court me or meeting for some other reason? You, who keep gathering here, and consuming away much livelihood, the property of wise Telemachos, nor have you listened to what you have heard from your fathers before you, when you were children, what kind of man Odysseus was among your own parents, how he did no act and spoke no word in his own country that was unfair; and that is a way divine kings have, one will hateful to a certain man, and favor another, but Odysseus was never outrageous at all to any man. But in you the spirit is plain to see, and your unjust actions, how you have no gratitude thereafter for good things done you.”


Then, the thoughtful Telemachos said to him in answer: “Great Menelaos, son of Atreus, leader of the people, I have come to see if you could tell me some news of my father, for my home is being eaten away, the rich fields are ruined, and the house is full of hateful men, who now forever slaughter my crowding sheep and lumbering horn-curved cattle, these suitors of my mother, overbearing in their rapacity. 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: What do these lines illustrate about the life of Telemachos? Hypothesize on how knowledge can help Telemachos in this situation.

Books V-VIII


But Hermes did not find great-hearted Odysseus indoors, but he was sitting out on the beach, crying, as before now he had done, breaking his heart in tears, lamentation, and sorrow, as weeping tears he looked out over the barren water.


The knees of Odysseus gave way for fear, and the heart inside him, and deeply troubled he spoke to his own great-hearted spirit: “Ah me unhappy, what in the long outcome will befall me? I fear the goddess might have spoken the truth in all ways when she said that on the sea and before I came to my own country I would go through hardships; now all this is being accomplished, such clouds are these, with which Zeus is cramming the wide sky and has staggered the sea, and stormblasts of winds from every direction are crowding in. My sheer destruction is certain. Three times and four times happy those Danaans were who died then in wide Troy land, bringing favor to the sons of Atreus, as I wish I too had died at that time and met my destiny on the day when the greatest number of Trojans drew their bronze-headed weapons upon me, over the body of perished Achilleus, and I would have had my rites and the Achaians given me glory. Now it is by a dismal death that I must be taken.”

Guide Question: Discuss how the excerpt highlights Odysseus’s philosophy on life and fate.

Books IX-XII


“So by this, do not be too easy even with your wife, nor give her an entire account of all you are sure of. Tell her part of it, but let the rest be hidden in silence. And yet, you Odysseus, will never be murdered by your wife. The daughter of Ikarios, circumspect Penelope, is all too virtuous and her mind is stored with good thoughts. Ah well. She was only a young wife when we left her off to the fighting…”


“Ah, poor wretches. Where are we going? Why do you long for the evils going down into Circe’s palace, for she will transform the lot of us into pigs or wolves or lions, and so we shall guard her great house for her, under compulsion. So too it happened with the Cyclops, when our companions went into his yard, and the bold Odysseus was of their company; for it was by this man’s recklessness that these too perished.”

Guide Questions: Discuss the opposition of Eurylochos against Odysseus. What could be his real reason for not trusting Odysseus? What is the relevance of having doubtful followers in the character development of Odysseus?