Characters from the Odyssey
Odysseus: The hero of the Odyssey. He is clever, handsome, and a brave warrior who was key in the defeat of Troy (the “Trojan Horse” ploy was his idea). He is also the ruler of Ithaka. The story details his trip home and his revenge on the suitors who have been harassing Penelope, with an extended flashback telling of his adventures on the seas for the ten years he was gone.
Telemakhos (aka Telemachus): Son of Odysseus and Penelope who is about 21 years old. He is just coming into his manhood; the tale begins with his fury at the suitors and his consequent search for information about Odysseus. He is able to help his father take revenge.
Penelope: Odysseus' loyal wife who has been able to keep the suitors at bay for ten years through her ingenuity and diplomacy.
The Major Gods of the Story
Athena: Goddess of wisdom. Aids Odysseus and Telemakhos often.
Poseidon: God of the sea who hates Odysseus for not paying him proper respect and blinding his son, the Kyklopes Polythemos. Thwarts Odysseus at every turn.
Hermes: messenger of the gods who tells Kalypso to release Odysseus and helped Odysseus resist Kirke. He also leads shades of the dead to Hades (such as all the suitors Odysseus killed).
Zeus: Father of the gods who mostly serves to approve or protest the actions of the gods who are more invested in Odysseus’ travels (negatively or positively).
Kalypso (aka Calypso): Minor goddess who kept Odysseus prisoner on her island for eight years as her personal love-slave.
Ino: A nymph who helps Odysseus after Poseidon has sunk his raft on the journey from the Island of Kalypso . She does so by lending him her scarf which he floats on.
Kirke (aka Circe): Sorceress/Minor goddess who is good with potions and spells. She turns Odysseus’ men into swine, but when Odysseus resists her, she wants him sexually. He stays with her in luxury for a year. She is the one who advises him to go to Hades and how to avoid the Seirens, Skylla, and Kharybdis.
Minor Characters from Odysseus’ Travels
Polyphemos (aka Polyphemus): A one-eyed Kyklopes shepherd who is also the son of Poseidon.
Aiolos (aka Aeolus): King of the winds. He gives Odysseus a bag of wind to get him home, but refuses to help him after his ship gets blown back.
Eurylokhos (aka Eurylochus): One of Odysseus’ sailors. He is the only one who does not drink of Kirke’s cup and is able to warn Odysseus about her; however, he is also the one who insists they stop at the Island of Helios and later encourages the men to eat the sacred cattle.
Alkinoos (aka Alcinoos): King of the Phaiakians who helps Odysseus after he lands on his island. He hears Odysseus’ tales and orders a ship to take Odysseus back to Ithaka.
Nausikaa (aka Nausicaa): Daughter of Alcinoos. She is the one who finds Odysseus after he has been washed ashore after his long journey from Kalypso’s island.
Arete: Wife of Alcinoos and Queen of the Phaiakians.
Iliad Characters That Are Still Alive
Nestor: The King of Pylos. He helps Telemakhos by instructing him to inquire of Menelaos about Odysseus.
Menelaos (aka Menelaus): King of Sparta who is still married to Helen despite her earlier betrayal which led to all the bloodshed at Troy. Receives Telemakhos and tells him about Odysseus and Kalypso.
Helen: Wife of Menelaos and cause of the Trojan war who also encourages and helps Telemakhos.
Characters We See in Hades
Agamemnon: Another Greek king who returned home only to find his wife Klytaimestra with another man. Before long, they murdered him.
Aias (aka Ajax ): The second-greatest warrior after Achilles who was featured in the Iliad. In the Odyssey, we see him in Hades, sulking because has not forgiven Odysseus for shaming him into suicide by winning Akhilleus’ armor from him.
Tiresias: Blind prophet whom Odysseus travels to Hades to consult.
Elpenor: The youngest of Odysseus’ sailors, he died after drinking too much at Kirke’s palace and falling off of the roof. When Odysseus sees him in Hades, he asks Odysseus to bury him.
Akhilleus (aka Achilles): The finest warrior of the Greeks who was the main character of the Iliad. When we see him in Hades, he mourns his fate.
Herakles (aka Hercules): Famous half-god, half-man hero who Odysseus talks to in Hades.
The Ill-fated Suitors
Antinoos: A leader of the suitors and the one who is the most hot-headed. He leads the plot to kill Telemakhos. He is the first to die when Odysseus takes his revenge.
Eurymakhos (aka Eurymachus): Also a leader of the suitors; cleverer than Antinoos. The second to die.
Amphinomos (aka Amphinomus): The most reasonable of the suitors, he still does not escape death.
Ktesippos (aka Ktessipus): Suitor who is sleeping with Melantho. He throws a cow hoof at Odysseus, but misses him.
Agelaos (aka Agelaus): The only suitor with enough pity to defend the “beggar,” but not enough sense to leave and avoid death.
Leodes: Suitor who unsuccessfully begs for mercy.
Amphimedon: The suitor who tells Agamemnon about Odysseus’ revenge when they reach Hades.
Odysseus’ Servants/ Household
Euryklea (aka Eurykleia): Odysseus’ childhood nurse who recognizes him by his scar.
Eumaios (aka Eumaius): Hospitable swineherd who takes care of the “beggar” Odysseus. He later helps him get revenge on the suitors.
Melanthios (aka Melanthius): Mean-spirited and disloyal goatherd who taunts the “beggar” Odysseus.
Melantho: Disloyal handmaiden who insults the “beggar” Odysseus and sleeps with the suitors.
Philoitios (aka Philoitius): Loyal cowherd who helps Odysseus take his revenge.
Iros (aka Irus): Beggar who often comes to Odysseus’ home to beg. He challenges fellow “beggar” Odysseus to a fight. Odysseus breaks his jaw with his first punch and the match is over.
Laertes: Odysseus' father.