The Odyssey Books 4-6 Summary

     In book four Telemachus is greeted warmly by Menelaus who feeds him and listens to his plea for information about his father. Eventually, Telemachus learns the rumor that Odysseus was being held captive by the nymph Calypso. Back on Ithaca the suitors were becoming tired of waiting. They decided to send some off on a ship to find and murder Telemachus so that one of them could finally marry Penelope.

     Book five begins with the gods discussing the plight of Odysseus. Led by Zeus, they decide to order Calypso to free Odysseus. Calypso is angered by this order but agrees to free him and assists him in building a raft for his journey. Odysseus finally sets out in his ship, but Poseidon is there to steer it off course. Athena intervenes, and Odysseus finally arrives at the land of the Phaecians.

     In book six the daughter of King Alcinous, who rules the Phaecians, is led by Athena to find Odysseus on the shore and bring him to her home. Nausicaa, the daughter, gives Odysseus fresh clothes and bathes him. Her servingwomen assisted and brought him food and drink. Odysseus does not reveal his identity to her.

     Considering this epic is about Odysseus it takes quite awhile for the tale to actually focus on his journey. It begins with a lot of back story about the war and the family that Odysseus left behind. This section focuses on his son and how he feels lost without his father and desperately wants to find out if he is still alive. Even though the gods often help the people in this story, such as Athena's assistance to Odysseus and Telemachus, they do not relay information to them. Therefore, even though Athena knows that Odysseus is still alive somewhere, she does not tell his son Telemachus. The gods, like humans, are fickle and follow their own set of rules.

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