Quotes or quotations are those few representative lines that give an idea about the story line. They, sometimes, refer to a universal theme or idea, which becomes memorable. Some of the famous quotes from Homer’s Odyssey have been given below with explanation. The quotes of Odyssey have been borrowed from Emily Wilson’s translation of the epic.
Quotes in Odyssey
“Tell me about a complicated man.
Muse, tell me how he wandered and was lost
when he had wrecked the holy town of Troy,
and where he went, and who he met, the pain
he suffered in the storms at sea, and how
he worked to save his life and bring his men
These are the first seven lines of Book-1 of Odyssey titled as “The Boy and the Goddess.” These first lines address Muse, the supposed heavenly goddess of poetry. The poet, Homer, invokes Muse, to complete his story of that great man, Odysseus, and his adventures. The rest of the books relate that story in detail how he goes on a long journey, is lost on the way, reaches underworld and bears storms and tornados to reach home in the end. These lines summarize Odysseus’ long journey.
“People of Ithaca, now hear my words.
We have not met in council since the day
Odysseus departed with his ships.
Who called us? Someone old or young? And why?”
These lines occur in the second book titled “A Dangerous Journey.” Telemachus, Odysseus’ son, has called a meeting of the elders of Ithaca. The most respectable among them, Aegyptius, who had three sons, asks the people why the elders have been called, and who dares to call them while Odysseus is not in the country. These lines show the democratic norms of that time. Also, the elders are unwilling to accept authority from a youngster like Telemachus.
“You will work out what to do,
through your own wits and with divine assistance.
The gods have blessed you in your life so far.”
These lines are taken from the first part of the third book, “An Old King Remembers.” Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and courage, advises Telemachus to meet the elders. When he expresses fear and hesitation pointing out his young age, she encourages him that he is young enough to have good wits and assures him that divine powers are helping him. Therefore, he should not hesitate. These lines are significant as they foreshadow the solution of the epic story in the end.
“These words roused in the boy a desperate need
to mourn his father. Tears rolled down his face
and splashed down on the ground. He lifted up
his cloak to hide his eyes.”
These lines are from the fourth book titled “What the Sea God Said.” The lines highlight the situation of Telemachus when Menelaus recounts how he has assessed Telemachus as the son of that great hero. Telemachus assumes his father is dead and mourns as he tries to hide his tears. These lines stress the significance of the divine powers and their intervention in the lives of ordinary and royal people.
“The gods sat down for council, with the great
Thunderlord Zeus. Athena was concerned
about Odysseus’ many troubles,
trapped by the nymph Calypso in her house.”
These are the opening lines of Book-5, “From the Goddess to the Storm.” The news of Odysseus’s captivity by Calypso has reached the goddess and gods who are under Zeus’ leadership. Athena expresses her concerns about troubles Odysseus is facing at that island. These lines show selected sympathy shown towards Odysseus and how divine powers eventually help the characters in most Greek stories.
“Please let me wash in private. I am shy
of being naked with you—pretty girls
with lovely hair.”
These lines appear in the sixth book, “A Princess and Her Laundry.” Odysseus accidentally reaches the island of Phaecia. The King Alcinous welcomes him and asks his daughter, Nausicaa to show Odysseus around the city. Nausicaa, calls her maidens, to help Odysseus bathe in the river. However, he politely declines her requests and tells them that he doesn’t want to scare young girls and will help himself. This shows Odysseus’ manners and his reluctance as he avoids the ladies for his privacy.
“Odysseus approached the royal house,
and stood there by the threshold made of bronze.
His heart was mulling over many things.”
These lines occur in the seventh book titled “A Magical Kingdom.” This is the kingdom of Phaecia where Odysseus has reached. He pleads Athena to take him to the town where she leaves him. He enters the palace and stands there looking at the brass threshold. There are many thoughts in his mind about the king, his kingdom, his behavior, and his subjects. These lines express Odysseus’ uncertainty of the future and his desire to learn about the island of Phaecia.
“Sir, you have expressed, with fine good manners,
your wish to show your talents, and your anger
at that man who stood up in this arena
and mocked you.”
These lines are from the eighth book of the poem “The Songs of a Poet.” The King Alcinous praises Odysseus’ manners and appreciates him for eloquence after his response to a challenge. He also points out that Odysseus did not display violence when a person mocked his abilities. These lines show Odysseus’ patience, wit, and strength.
“Cyclops, you asked my name. I will reveal it;
then you must give the gift you promised me,
of hospitality. My name is Noman.”
These lines appear in the ninth book “A Pirate in Shepherd’s Cave.” When Odysseus and his comrades pass by the cave of the Cyclops, a one-eyed monster, they are captured by him. They later discover that Cyclops relishes human flesh. As Odysseus plans to escape the cave, he realizes that Cyclops can only open the door. Odysseus plans to blind him and gives him wine to drink. When Cyclops asks his name, Odysseus gives a false name, Noman. These lines show the ingenuity of Odysseus.
“Who are you?
Where is your city? And who are your parents?
I am amazed that you could drink my potion
and yet not be bewitched.”
These lines are from the tenth book titled “The Winds and the Witch.” Odysseus and his men reach the island of Circe, a sorcerer. She has turned the entire crew into animals except for Odysseus. These words are the questions she asks to Odysseus to know his identity. Later she realizes that Odysseus has a divine blessing. Hence, he was not transformated after having her potion. These lines are significant as they show the supernatural elements at work to help the hero.