What Is Homer’s Odyssey About?

The Odyssey is one of the two epic poems attributed to Homer, and it tells the story of Odysseus’ return home from 20 years of war. The themes explored in this work include love, honor, mortality, family relationships and society’s values. Although written 2200 years ago by an ancient Greek poet who lived during a time when slavery was commonplace on many levels in societies around the world – including among Greece’s own nobility – there are striking parallels with modern times.,

The “homer’s odyssey pdf” is a story about the adventures of Odysseus, king of Ithaca. The story follows Odysseus’ journey back home after the Trojan War.

Cover of lessons from poem called homers odyssey with statue.

The Odyssey is my favorite Homeric epic. I’ve read it so many times that I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read it. While the Odyssey is a fantastic adventure narrative, it isn’t why I keep coming back to it. Because Odysseus is such a sympathetic figure, I re-read the Odyssey. Unlike Achilles, the hero of Homer’s other great Greek epic, who is endowed with godlike strength and skill and dedicated solely to the pursuit of martial glory, Odysseus is entirely mortal and must balance the roles of warrior and king with those of father, son, and husband; travel through an unknown world; and survive and thrive by relying on his wits — his mtis or “cunning intelligence.” 

Odysseus therefore has a lot to offer the contemporary man, who is similarly attempting to do his best for his loved ones while navigating a tumultuous environment. The lessons to be gained from the Odyssey might easily fill a whole book. The three that stick out the most to me every time I read this old tale are listed below. 

Manly Hospitality should be practiced.

The Odyssey is a story about a brave warrior’s amazing adventure, but it’s also an etiquette manual from antiquity. While we commonly associate being a well-mannered “gentleman” with the Victorian era, a comparable ideal existed in antiquity (even amongst the famously fierce Spartans). The connection between host and guest was a major component of the Greeks’ honor-based etiquette, and it emerges as one of the Odyssey’s most prominent and ubiquitous motifs. 

The connection between a visitor and a host was described by the ancient Greeks using a single word: xenia. It was commonly translated as hospitality, but it was a reciprocal code of etiquette that regulated not only how a host should treat a visitor, but also how a guest should treat his host. 

So, how did a guy go about practicing excellent xenia? 

Anyone who came knocking was supposed to be welcomed inside a host’s house. Before a host could even inquire about a visitor’s identity or origins, he had to provide him food, drink, and a wash. The host could only begin enquiring about the visitor’s identity after the guest had completed his supper. The host was supposed to provide the visitor a place to sleep after he had eaten. When his visitor was ready to go, the host was required to offer him presents and provide him with safe transportation to his next location. 

Guests were expected to be kind and respectful to their hosts in return. They were not to make any demands or be a nuisance throughout their stay. Guests were expected to regale the host and his family with tales from their travels. The most crucial expectation was that the visitor would treat his host with the same courtesy if he ever traveled to the guest’s home country. 


Once you comprehend xenia, you’ll observe it throughout the Odyssey, where it leads to trust, stability, and prospering, while its disdain leads to tragedy and unrest. 

Circe turns the soldiers of Odysseus into pigs? Xenia is in a bad way. 

Odysseus and his men entering the cave of the cyclops Polyphemus without being invited and eating his goat cheese without asking, and Polyphemus devouring Odysseus’ soldiers instead of providing them a snack? On both sides, there is a lot of xenia. 

The suitors scrounging off Odysseus’ riches and attempting to seduce his wife while he was away? An example of very heinous xenia… for which they would be justly punished.

The poem is full with examples of excellent xenia. When Odysseus’ son Telemachus pays a visit to Nestor, Nestor treats him with customary hospitality. Eumaeus, Odysseus’ faithful swineherd, demonstrates the attribute when he warmly meets Odysseus, even though he has no idea it is his old master, who has returned in the disguise of a beggar; Odysseus reciprocates his xenia by informing Eumaeus that he would not get in the way and will earn his keep. When the Phaeacians brought in a nude and shipwrecked Odysseus, cleaned him, fed him, put on some athletic activities, and then sent him on his journey to Ithaca with a sack full of riches, they exemplified xenia. 

When you consider what traveling was like in the ancient world, the need of a rigid rule of hospitality makes obvious. Along the highways, there were no McDonald’s or La Quintas where you could eat, wash, or sleep. Your safety and well-being while traveling was entirely dependent on the kindness of strangers. You welcomed a stranger into your home and treated him properly as a host because you knew that one day you could be the stranger looking for a place to sleep.

While we no longer require xenia to travel, we’d all be better off if we could find methods to embody its values in our daily encounters. Strangers approaching one other with mutual respect and a “do unto others” attitude of hospitality make life a lot more enjoyable and enlightening.

Even if the relationship is on an equal footing or you are officially the guest of someone else, the best way to live both sides of xenia is to treat every contact as the “host.” You’ll never be a horrible “guest” if you constantly endeavor to be a good “host,” whether you’re staying in people’s houses or just meeting on the street. When you perceive yourself in the position of host, you seek for methods to relieve others’ problems and make everyone feel welcome and at ease — “at home” (even when out and about). You provide social gifts like as appreciation, elevation, connection, and enlightenment so that people leave your circle feeling fulfilled and better off than they were when they came.


The Odyssey reminds us that we are all on a long trip, and that we should serve as way stations for one another, offering the warmth and nutrition that people need to keep going. 

Boys want strong male role models.

The suitors camping out at Odysseus’ home, consuming his food, and waiting for his wife Penelope to choose one of them to be her new husband so they might become the king of Ithaca is the most flagrant example of bad xenia in the Odyssey. They regarded Odysseus’ attendants as trash and showed little respect for Telemachus, Odysseus’ legitimate successor. 

Who were these good-for-nothings who neglected xenia’s holy duties? 

Didn’t their dads instill in them the desire to be better?

No, most likely not. 

Because the opportunistic suitors were almost certainly fatherless sons. 

We must keep in mind that Odysseus had been gone for 20 years – 10 years fighting in Troy and ten years attempting to return home after the battle.

Odysseus most certainly enlisted the help of most of Ithaca’s able-bodied men when he joined up to fight in the Trojan War two decades before. Many of those soldiers had small children, many of whom were boys, whom they left with their spouses before marching out to combat.  

After the Trojan War, none of Odysseus’ soldiers returned home. As a result, most Ithacan young men grew up without a father to teach them how to be true Ithacan gentlemen. As a result, those fatherless boys are likely to have grown up to be those despicable, deadbeat suitors. “If boys don’t learn, men won’t know,” theologian Douglas Wilson famously stated.

Male mentors play a vital role in introducing young men into manhood, as we’ve already discussed. Adult males keep an eye on the dark side of teenage boys’ growing masculine energy while simultaneously teaching them how to channel it for good. Burgeoning male energy may be externally destructive and internally immolating without such taming and guiding. 

Because they lacked mature males to guide them into adulthood, the suitors were suitors. 

What about Telemachus, though? Even though his father, Odysseus, was not around while he was growing up, he developed into a great young man. Well, it’s probable that his revered mother, Penelope, kept his father’s memory alive in their house, provided an image of noble manliness, and taught Telemachus the things Odysseus would have wanted him to know. 

Despite this, Telemachus felt a “father wound” as a result of his lack of male care. When he reached adulthood, he set out to discover more about himself and his telos, or ultimate goal as a man. Telemachus went in search of his father, both physically and metaphorically; his quest for Odysseus was also a quest for adulthood.

Telemachus was accompanied by mentors on his voyage. To learn out what had happened to his father, he went to Odysseus’ old army comrades Nestor and Menelanous. Telemachus was treated with xenia by both of them. They exemplified what it meant to be a powerful, but well-behaved guy. While Nestor and Menelanous were unable to tell Telemachus where his father was, they were able to inform him about Odysseus’ heroic exploits. They improved Telemachus’ manly model even further. 


While few boys now lose their dads to war, they are often fatherless for various reasons, and they feel the missing of this upbringing in subtle and overt ways. If your father raised you properly, try not just to mentor your own boys in the ways of noble masculinity, but also to provide some manly nurture to the young (and not-so-young) men in your community. Raising honorable men requires a community. Get engaged in other people’s lives; enter the public sphere. Show boys what it takes to be a decent man and a good man at being a man, or we’ll breed a generation of lusty suitors. 

Find a Wife Who Shares Your Values for a Strong Marriage

People often overlook the fact that we do not meet Odysseus until Book V of the Odyssey. 

And when we finally meet him, he’s crying as he looks out over the water.

That’s a unique method to introduce an epic hero to a large audience. 

Why is Odysseus so upset?

Odysseus has been kept hostage on an island by the nymph Calypso for the last seven years. Odysseus has been having sex with a gorgeous goddess every day for the better part of a decade. He feeds on the gods’ food. He’s in good hands. He has everything he needs. He’s living the life of a cliché male. So, what’s the matter with him?

Because he misses Penelope, his wife.

Calypso warns Odysseus that Penelope is mortal when he tells her this. In the last two decades, she’s grown older. She’s lost her charm as a young woman. She’ll almost certainly have wrinkles, crow’s feet, and gray hair. 

On the other hand, Calypso is eternal. She’ll always be smokin’ sexy and nubile. Calypso also promises Odysseus that she would grant him immortality, allowing them to spend the rest of eternity together, satisfying his every sensual need. She describes the hazards and difficulties he’ll encounter on his journey to reconcile with his older, saggier, average wife. On his way back to Penelope, he could perish. And for what purpose?

Calypso’s plea does not convince Odysseus; he would rather risk his life to return to his mortal wife than spend eternally placating enchantment with a sensuous nymph. Odysseus understands he wants more from a romance after spending seven years banging boots with a goddess and yet being sad.

He wants to be with someone who thinks the same way he does. 

The Greek term homophrosyne means “like-minded,” and it’s used throughout the Odyssey to characterize Odysseus’ connection with his wife Penelope.

Penelope, like Odysseus, is astute and astute. She has been able to keep her suitors at bay for years by vowing to pick one of them when she completes a funeral shroud for Odysseus’ old father Laretes. While she pretends to work on the shroud every day, she undoes her efforts every night, ensuring that the endeavor will never be finished. 


Penelope’s mentality and soul are what Odysseus misses about her. Nothing, not even endless nymph sex, could ever match the bond that arises between two lovers who have similar interests.

When Odysseus washes up on the strand of the Phaeacians and princess Nausicaa assists him, we see the significance Odysseus places on this form of connection. Odysseus wants her the greatest recompense in life — a partner with whom she is equally yoked:

There’s nothing more powerful or better than that– When a husband and wife work together to keep their household together, their enemies are in for a lot of trouble. Their source of notoriety and a source of delight for their friends

Penelope and Odysseus’ like-mindedness is also seen in the aftermath of the latter’s return home. For violating xenia, Odysseus slaughters all the suitors with the assistance of his son. Odysseus waits for Penelope to emerge from her chamber once the dead have been removed and the blood has been wiped up, so they may begin their joyous reunion. Penelope, on the other hand, isn’t certain that Odysseus is truly Odysseus, so she devises a smart test to confirm his identity. 

When Odysseus requests a bed, Penelope reacts deceptively by instructing her servant to transfer her own bed from her chamber and make it up for him.

Odysseus, who is already irritated because Penelope does not think he is who he claims to be, erupts in rage:

Your words, woman, have slashed me to the core! Who would be able to transfer my bed? Even if a deity came down in person, eager to offer a hand, and pulled it out with ease and relocated it somewhere, it would be an impossible undertaking.

The building of a magnificent sign, a trademark, is in its design. I know because I constructed it by myself – no one else… Inside our court, there was a branching olive tree that had reached its full potential, the bole thickset like a column. I erected my bedroom around it, finishing the walls with a nice tight masonry, roofing it securely, and adding doors that were properly hung and tightly wedged. Then I lopped the olive’s green top, bare-cutting the stump from roots up, planing it round with a bronze smoothing-adze — I had the expertise –I shaped it plumb to the like to construct my bedpost, boring the holes it required with an auger. From there, I constructed my bed from the ground up… I assure you, there’s our hidden message, our life narrative!

Penelope’s knees buckle as she hears Odysseus tell the secret of their special marriage bed, a secret they held only between themselves, and she sobs, knowing that the man before her is her long-lost husband. She aided this disclosure with a test, a ruse, which her husband might have done as well. 

The homophrosyne layers don’t stop there. Penelope and Odysseus’ bed’s shared secret is a reflection of their common interests. Inside jokes, pet names, and private memories weave a web of intimacy that no one on the outside can ever really comprehend. A couple’s relationship begins to disintegrate when they cease building this intertwined reality.


The gods make the night stretch longer than normal when Penelope and Odysseus eventually get together in bed. Why? Of course, so they can produce a lot of love. However, they also spend the night just conversing and exchanging their opinions. Penelope tells him about how she used her wits to fight off suitors, and Odysseus tells her about how he used his cleverness to go back home. They utilize the night to re-fuse both their bodies and minds. 

Nothing is more powerful or superior than it. 

Check out my podcast about what we can learn from Homer’s Odyssey today: 




The “iliad and odyssey summary” is a poem that tells the story of the Trojan War. It is also known as The Epic Cycle.

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