What does Calypso symbolize in The Odyssey

Key symbols, themes and motifs in the odyssey

This Storyboard That activity is part of the lesson plans for The Odyssey

Activity overview

Themes, symbols and motifs are valuable aspects of any literary work and enrich stories. Part of the Common Core ELA Standards is introducing and explaining these complex concepts. However, it is often difficult for students to analyze abstract ideas without help. Using a storyboard, students can visually demonstrate their understanding of these concepts and master the analysis of literary elements. For best practice information, see our complementary article with specific lesson plan steps for setting up your classroom and activities for teaching topics, symbols and themes.

In the classroom, students can keep track of the themes, symbols, and motifs that Homer used in The Odyssey used to analyze examples and the importance of topics.

Discuss topics

Greek hospitality

During his journey, Odysseus and his men are constantly thrown into different environments. They believe they have the right to Greek hospitality on every island. Hosts are expected to provide food, shelter, and shelter for every traveler, and guests are expected to be respectful and grateful for them. In the odyssey breaking these rules brings misfortune and the displeasure of the gods.


During the epic journey, Odysseus is not only tempted, but his men as well. Every time they approach a new land, the temptations grow stronger. Giving in to these temptations prevented Odysseus and his crew from reaching Ithaca for many years. The temptations they encounter include seduction, immorality, greed, and food.

Brains over brawn

A prominent theme in ancient stories is the use of joke about raw strength. In Odysseus' case, the ability to outsmart his enemy is his most valuable asset, although he has the power to win battles. A good example is his escape from the Polyphemus Cave.

Motifs and images to search for


Odysseus constantly struggles with the disobedience of his men. Most of the time they show their loyalty to Odysseus, but especially when exposed to temptation, they disregard his direct orders.


Again and again the men and Odysseus are seduced by various temptations. Examples are the circe, calypso, the sirens, and the lotus eaters. All these temptations lead men to stay rather than return to Ithaca.


Disguises play an important role in hiding the characters' identities. The special act of disguise comes mainly in the form of magical help from the gods or the enchantment of a spell.

Tests / trickery

The epics often include cheating or an examination of the hero and his followers. This shows the hero's mental strength and allows him to earn the rewards necessary to achieve his goal.

Template and class instructions

(These instructions are fully customizable.) After clicking "Copy Assignment" you will change the description of the assignment in your dashboard.)

Student instructions

Create a storyboard that incorporates recurring themes into the odyssey identified. Illustrate instances of each topic and write a brief description under each cell.

  1. Click on "Use this template" from the assignment.
  2. Identify the subject of the odyssey that You want to insert and replace the text "Topic 1".
  3. Create an image for an example that represents this topic.
  4. Write a description of each example.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.

Lesson reference

Grade level 9-10

Level of difficulty 3 (development to championship)

Type of assignment Individual or partner

Type of activity:Subjects symbols and motifs


(You can also create your own in the Quick Rubric.)

Topics, Symbols, and Motifs (Grades 9-12)
Create a storyboard that identifies recurring themes, symbols, and / or motifs in the story. Illustrate cases of each and write a brief description that explains what the example means.
Efficient Emerging Beginning Needs Improvement
Identification number (s), symbol (s) and / or motif (s)
All topics are correctly identified as important recurring topics or messages in the story. Symbols are correctly identified as objects that represent something else at a higher level in the story. Motives are correctly identified as important recurring features or ideas in the story.
Most topics are correctly identified; others are missing or incomplete. Most of the symbols are correctly identified, but some objects are missing or incomplete. Some motifs are correctly identified, others are missing or incomplete.
Most of the topics are missing, incomplete, or incorrect. Most of the symbols are missing, incomplete, or incorrect. Most of the motifs are missing, incomplete or incorrect.
No themes, symbols or motifs are correctly identified.
Examples and descriptions
Quotes and examples are specific to the topic (s), symbol (s) and / or motif (s) that are identified. Descriptions precisely explain the subject (s), symbol (s), and / or motif (s) and mark their significance for the story.
Most quotes and examples are specific to the subject (s), symbol (s), and / or motifs that are identified. Descriptions mostly describe exactly the topic (s), symbol (s) and / or motif (s) and mark their meaning for the story.
Most quotation marks and examples are minimal, incorrect, or unrelated to the subject (s), symbol (s), and / or motif (s) being identified. Descriptions contain inaccuracies in their explanations, or fail to highlight their importance to the story.
Examples and descriptions are missing or too small.
Representations selected for theme (s), symbol (s) and / or motif (s) are in keeping with the story and reflect time, effort, thought and care in relation to the placement and creation of the scenes.
Representations selected for theme (s), symbol (s) and / or motif (s) are mostly accurate for the story. They reflect the time and effort put into the placement and creation of the scenes.
Representations selected for theme (s), symbol (s) and / or motif (s) are inaccurate to the story. The representations can be rushed or show minimal effort, time and care in the placement and creation of the scenes.
Most representations are missing too many elements or too small to score. Little time or effort was put into the placement and creation of the scenes.
There are no errors in spelling, grammar, or mechanics throughout the storyboard. All parts of the writing reflect careful correction and accuracy of the story.
There are a few errors in spelling, grammar, and mechanics throughout the storyboard. All writing parts accuracy to the story and some proofreading.
There are several errors in spelling, grammar, and mechanics throughout the storyboard. Most of the writing parts don't reflect proofreading or accuracy of the story.
Mistakes in spelling, grammar, and mechanics when writing parts of the storyboard seriously disrupt communication.

Data protection and security

Each version of Storyboard That has a different privacy and security model tailored to the expected usage.

Free version

All storyboards are public and can be viewed and copied by anyone. They'll also show up in Google search results.

Personal edition

The author can choose to keep the storyboard public or mark it as not listed. Storyboards that are not listed can be shared via a link, but otherwise remain hidden.

Educational edition

All storyboards and images are private and secure. Teachers can view all of their students' storyboards, but students can only see their own. Nobody can see anything. Teachers can lower security if they want to allow sharing.

Business edition

All storyboards are private and secure for the portal and use enterprise-class file security hosted by Microsoft Azure. Within the portal, all users can view and copy all storyboards. In addition, any storyboard can be "shared", whereby a private link to the storyboard can be released externally.

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