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The Odyssey

The Odyssey


by Homer

Athene Timeline and Summary

  • Up on Mount Olympos, Zeus discusses the recent and just murder of Klytaimestra and her lover Aigisthos by Orestes.
  • Athene replies and turns her father’s thoughts toward Odysseus, stranded at sea. She asks for his mercy, and Zeus reassures her.
  • Disguised as Mentor, Athene goes down to Odysseus’s house and advises Telemachos to go to Pylos and Sparta to find out information about his father.
  • When Telemachos’s meeting with the Ithakans fails, he prays to Athene for help.
  • She hears him and answers, ordering him prepare for a journey and promising to secure a ship for his travels.
  • Disguised as Telemachos, Athene rents a ship from Noëmon.
  • Disguised as Mentor, Athene and Telemachos and his crew head for Pylos.
  • After being urged by pious Peisistratos to make an offering to Poseidon, Athene – highly amused – does. Then, she grants each of her prayers for them herself.
  • When Nestor offers Telemachos and Mentor/Athene a bed for the night, Athene refuses graciously. As she leaves, she creates a sign to reveal her divine presence.
  • Nestor promises to make ritual sacrifices for her the next day and follows through.
  • That same night, Athene comes to the distressed Penelope in a dream, disguised as her sister Iphthime, and tells Penelope that her son will come home safely, as the gods will it.
  • Athene begs Zeus to let Odysseus leave the island of Kalypso. He agrees.
  • When Poseidon sends a storm to delay Odysseus on his raft, Athene calms the winds and drifts Odysseus towards Scheria where he will find help from the Phaiakian people.
  • Athene goes to the Phaiakian princess Nausikaa in her dreams and, as a friend, advises her to prepare for marriage by washing her linens in the streams.
  • Nausikaa goes down to the streams the next day where she meets the stranded and desperate Odysseus; she promises to help him.
  • Athene plays up his manly beauty and Nausikaa falls right into her hands by getting the hots for the Greek hero.
  • Athene disguises herself as a little Phaiakian girl; she leads Odysseus towards the palace of King Alkinoös and tells him the history of the land. She advises him to entreaty Queen Arete for help, just as Nausikaa advised earlier.
  • The next day, after Odysseus has secured safe passage home, Athene disguises herself as the town crier and brings all the Phaiakians to the palace with the news of the stranger’s arrival.
  • Once Odysseus is conveyed back to Ithaka and left sleeping on the shore, Athene hides him in a protective cloud so nobody can see him or his treasure as he sleeps.
  • Athene approaches Odysseus disguised as a little girl and tells him he is in Ithaka. Duh.
  • Then she reveals herself to Odysseus.
  • Athene tells him she will disguise him as a beggar and that he must go to Eumaios’s home in the forest. She transforms him into a beggar. Odysseus goes.
  • Meanwhile, Athene flies to Sparta to tell Telemachos to come home immediately. She adds that he needs to come to Eumaios’s hut as soon as he reaches Ithaka. Telemachos obeys.
  • Athene guides Telemachos’s ship safely away from the site of the suitors’ planned ambush.
  • At Eumaios’s place, Athene tells Odysseus to reveal himself to his son; she then removes his disguise, which we have to say doesn’t leave him with much choice anyway. Telemachos is stunned and overjoyed.
  • Athene puts the disguise back on Odysseus when Eumaios returns to the hut, having delivered the news to Penelope that Telemachos is home safely.
  • Athene makes Penelope even more beautiful and compels her to tease the suitors to arouse their lust. She succeeds.
  • Athene holds a torch to light the way while Odysseus and Telemachos move the suitors’ weapons from the great hall into a storage room.
  • Before the test of the bow, Athene makes everything seem particularly funny to the suitors so they don’t notice any strange preparations going on. Also, their teasing helps to inflame Odysseus and Telemachos’s fury.
  • During the slaughter, Athene arrives in the guise of Mentor and is implored by both sides to help them. She speaks in Odysseus’s favor but does not actually fight for him yet. She waits for father and son to prove themselves worthy of her aid.
  • She protects the four friends from the spears of the suitors.
  • When Athene’s sign shines on Odysseus’s side, the suitors panic. Odysseus finishes killing them.
  • When Penelope finally accepts Odysseus back, Athene slows down time so they can have all the time they need together.
  • When Odysseus and company go off to see Laertes, she hides and protects them in a dark cloud.
  • When Laertes welcomes Odysseus home, Athene makes him look years younger.
  • When the Ithakan rebels come, Telemachos invokes Athene before throwing his spear and, sure enough, she aids him; the spear rips straight through the helmet of Eupeithes, the lead rebel.
  • Athene orders them all to stop fighting and make peace.
  • They eventually do and Athene witnesses the pact, legitimizing Odysseus as King of Ithaka.