Activity Overview

The Odyssey challenges students more than many other stories. The setting and characters are constantly changing, and the narrative begins in medias res, that is, in the middle of things. The story is nonlinear. Readers meet Odysseus part-way through his journey home, then he tells the events of the past 20 years. Eventually, the reader catches up with the hero's present day, and the story continues to its conclusion.

Creating a setting map allows students to document Odysseus’ journey. In the example below, the story begins with Odysseus telling Alcinous, the Phaeacian King, of his travels. It then lists the stops on his way home to Ithaca:


The story begins with the battle of Troy, where he fought for ten years.


Then, he landed on the island of the Cicones, where his men looted the town. Instead of quickly fleeing, they stayed and were slaughtered by the Cicones horsemen seeking revenge.

Island of the Lotus Eaters

Driven off course by storms, Odysseus' ship landed on the island of the Lotus Eaters. There, his men ate lotus flowers that made them forgetful.

Island of Cyclops

After freeing his crew, Odysseus stopped on the island of the Cyclopes. He and his men were captured by Polyphemus, the son of Poseidon. To escape, Odysseus and his men blinded the cyclops. As they sailed away, Polyphemus asks his father to curse Odysseus so he may never return home.

Island of Aeolus

Next, they went to the island of Aeolus, god of the wind. Aeolus gave Odysseus a bag of wind to help them return home. As they neared Ithaca, the greedy sailors opened the bag, thinking Odysseus was hiding gold. The wind escaped and blew them back to Aeolus. At this point, Aeolus believed Odysseus was cursed, and refused to help him further.


Odysseus' fleet came near the island of the Laestrygonians, a race of cannibals who hurled rocks at the ships, sinking all but one.


Narrowly escaping the Laestrygonians, they sailed on and landed on the island of Circe. Here, Odysseus' men were turned into swine, and he was made Circe's lover.

Land of the Dead

After being with her a year, Odysseus was told that if he ever wanted to return home, he had to travel to the Land of the Dead in search of the prophet, Tiresias.

Scylla and Charybdis

Odysseus returned successfully from the underworld, and sailed on, navigating by the island of the Sirens. Between Scylla, a six-headed monster, and Charybdis, a giant whirlpool, nearly all of Odysseus' men perished.

Island of Thrinacia

The weary travelers landed on the island of Thrinacia, home to the Cattle of the Sun God, Helios. Despite a warning not to eat the cows, some of Odysseus' men disobeyed him, and again they paid for it with their lives.

Calypso's Island

Next, they reach Calypso’s island. She offered Odysseus immortality and captivated him as her lover for nearly seven years. Eventually, Zeus intervened, and forced her to let him go.

Island of Scheria

Here the story catches up, and the reader and Odysseus are in the same setting: the land of the Phaeacians, on the island of Scheria. It is the king and queen of this island that finally get Odysseus home to Ithaca, where more obstacles await him.


Odysseus finally returns home. However, he arrives to find his home overrun with suitors.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Student Instructions

Create a setting map of Odysseus' journey. Click "Add Cells" to change the number of cells if needed.

  1. Determine the different locations to which Odysseus goes.
  2. Create a visualization for each location.
  3. Identify the setting, make a description, and list any foreshadowing.

Lesson Plan Reference

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/5] Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/7] Analyze the representation of a subject or a key scene in two different artistic mediums, including what is emphasized or absent in each treatment (e.g., Auden’s “Musée des Beaux Arts” and Breughel’s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus)
  • [ELA-Literacy/W/9-10/6] Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

Setting Map Rubric #1
Evaluate your setting map using the criteria stated in the rubric below.
20 Points
15 Points
10 Points
Setting Description
The student effectively describes the setting by identifying the place, time, and atmosphere.
The student describes two elements of the setting.
The student describes only one aspect of the setting.
Role of Setting
The student effectively identifies how the setting contributes to the development of plot, characters, mood, and theme.
The student is able to identify how the setting contributes to the development of two aspects of the novel: plot, characters, mood, or theme.
The student is able to identify how the setting contributes to the development of one aspect of the novel: plot, characters, mood, or theme.
Shifts in Setting
The student identifies how the setting shifts and the effect this change has on plot, character, mood and theme development.
The student is able to identify how the setting shifts, and the effect this shift has on two aspects of the development of the novel (plot, character, mood, or theme).
The student is able to identify how the setting shifts, and the effect this shift has on one aspect of the development of the novel (plot, character, mood, or theme).
Final product contains accurate visual depictions of setting and characters.
Final product demonstrates an effort to accurately portray settings and characters though some aspects are confusing and/or inaccurate.
Final product contains irrelevant images.
Spelling, Grammar, Punctuation
Final product is free of spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors.
Final product contains up to three errors in spelling, punctuation, or grammar that do not alter the meaning of the text.
Final product contains more than three errors in spelling, punctuation, or grammar.

How To Create a Setting Map for Nonlinear Stories


Analyze The Story

Students should carefully analyze the story depicted in the poem. Nonlinear stories are tricky hence it is important for students to read the poem multiple times and understand the sequence of events.


Create a Timeline

After carefully analyzing all the details of the story, students can make a list of the events in chronological order to accurately depict when certain events happened. This timeline can also be created by using a horizontal line and marking time periods on that line. This will help them bring all the required information on one page.


Mark Locations

On the same horizontal lines, students can mark the locations of the events next to the specific time periods. For this labeling, students can use different colors and symbols to represent different events.


Convert into Setting Map

Using accurate timelines and locations, students can use all the gathered information and map a setting map. A setting map can be hand-drawn or created using templates. Students can use the correct visuals in order and write their summaries below the visuals and pictures.

Frequently Asked Questions About Setting Map for The Odyssey

How can a map of the setting help me better comprehend "The Odyssey"?

A setting map makes it easier to understand the geographic extent of the epic, the difficulties that Odysseus encounters in many locations, and the course of his journey. It improves your understanding of the spatial and chronological components of the story. Creating the map is also an engaging way of teaching abstract and complex ideas in simple terms.

Should the setting map also indicate unimportant locations?

Concentrate on the key areas that host important occasions or difficulties for Odysseus. Minor locales help the story along, but having too many could make the map cluttered and lose its focus. For the setting map to look neat and understandable, it is important to focus on more important locations.

What significant sites must be shown on the setting map?

The Land of the Dead, Calypso's island, the Cyclops' island, Troy, Circe's island, Ithaca (Odysseus' home), and other significant locales are included. These serve as significant pit stops along Odysseus' trip. Some of these mythical locations can be designed using every individual’s imagination or students can create simpler symbols to depict them.

How can I determine the map's scale?

Depending on your preferences and the amount of detail you want to add, the map's scale can change. You can opt to zoom in to emphasize certain places or to concentrate on bigger regions. Think about how much information you want to convey.

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