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The Odyssey

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									The Odyssey:

A Background
The Odyssey
3000   Years ago
Great war stories recalling
historical facts
Written by Homer
Two books: The Iliad and the
Odyssey
The Odyssey

Homer’s   second epic
Details the attempts of
 Odysseus to return home
 after winning the Trojan
 War
Epic

 Long  narrative poems that tell
  of the adventures of heroes
  who in some way embody the
  values of their civilizations
 Typically used to teach
  virtues: moral ideals of a
  society
Epics:

Greek:  The Iliad and the
 Odyssey
Roman: Aeneid
French: Song of Roland
Italian: Divine Comedy
Sumerian: Gilgamesh
English: Beowulf
The War-Story Background:

Found   in the Iliad: the war
 epic
Action is the 10th and final
 year of the Trojan War
Menelaus: King of Sparta
 whose wife, Helen, ran off
 with Paris, a Trojan Prince
Heroes of the Trojan War

Agamemnon:     King and
 leader of the Greek forces
Achilles: the greatest of all
 Greek warriors
Odysseus: the hero of the
 second epic, and a
 prominent figure in Greek
 history
Odysseus: Hero in Trouble

Heroes  were thought of as
 aristocrats—a privileged
 class
Difference: Odysseus is in
 trouble—he must submit to
 Agamemnon
He is at the whim of the
 gods
Hero in Trouble

Story  marked by
 melancholy and a feeling
 of disillusionment
Odysseus is plagued by
 misfortune—the opposite
 of what we think a hero
 should have
Odysseus’ Misfortune

The  monsters do not know
 of his military prowess
Odysseus has already been
 away from his wife for 10
 years
Odysseus has not seen his
 son, Telemachus, since he
 was a toddler
    The Wooden-Horse Trick

 Odysseus    created the wooden
  horse (Trojan Horse)
 It is a trap—it is filled with
  warriors who open the gates of
  Troy at night when the Trojans
  were asleep
 The Greek army withdrew from
  sight—this is a dishonest means
  of battle
The Ancient World and Ours

Harsh—filled  with violence
Worldly goods may simply
 have been pots and pans,
 not gold
Palaces may simply have
 been mud huts
Struggles represent the
 struggle for survival
A Search for their Places in
Life
Odysseus  is searching for
 home—parallels the plight
 of the Greek people
People feel the need to
 belong somewhere
Odyssey begins in the
 middle, with Telemachus
Place in Life

Telemachus:    need for
 father reflects society’s
 need for guidance
Odysseus is similar to Zeus
 in this regard
Odysseus represents every
 Greek person in search of
 security in a hostile world
     Relationships with the Gods
Myths:    stories that use fantasy to
 express ideas about life that
 cannot be expressed easily in
 realistic terms
Homer is religious: the Odyssey
 represents the struggle every
 Greek had with the Gods/Survival
Alter Ego: the opposite of the
 hero
Who was Homer?


 No one really knows
 Believed to be a blind minstrel from
  Chios
 Probably just a legend

 Rhapsodes: singer of tales—
  historians
How Were Epics Told?

 Oral Tradition: the Odyssey was
  spoken long before it was written
  down
 Most myths usually taught a religious
  story
How Were Epics Told?

 Homeric or heroic similes:
  compare heroic or epic events to
  simple and easily understandable
  events
 These stories were probably not told
  in one evening—they were too long
 Homer and other poets were similar
  to comedians
A Live Performance

Poems   were frequently
 sung
These affairs were a big
 deal—people dressed up
 for them
Cast of Characters:
Achaeans   or Argives:
 Greek people—referred
 to as both
Argives specifically
 refers to those fighting
 at Troy
People and Places
Aeaea: home of Circe, the
 witch Goddess; an island
Alcinous: King of Phaeacia
Calypso: goddess-nymph
 who keeps Odysseus for 7
 years
People and Places
Cicones: people of
 southwest Thrace
Charybdis: female
 monster who sucks in
 water three times a day
 (explains the tides)
People and Places
Circe:witch-goddess
 who turns Odysseus’
 men into pigs
Eurylochus:
 crewmember of
 Odysseus’
People and Places
Lotus Eaters: people who
 eat Lotus blossoms: feed
 them to Odysseus’ men;
 makes men forgetful
Phaeacia: island ruled by
 Alcinous
People and Places
Polyphemus:   cyclops who
 was blinded by Odysseus
Cyclops: children of
 Poseidon who were
 shepherds, but know for
 their barbaric nature
People and Places
 Scylla: female monster with six
  serpent heads: she was
  opposite Charybdis
 Teiresias: blind prophet from
  Thebes; present in many
  Greek stories
 Thranakia: island of Helios’
  cattle
People of Ithaca
Antinous:   Penelope’s main
 suitor
Eumaeus: swineherd and
 loyal servant of Odysseus
Eurycleia: Odysseus’ old
 nurse
People of Ithaca
Eurynome:    Penelope’s
 housekeeper
Penelope: Odysseus’
 faithful wife
Telemachus: Odysseus
 son, who never gives up
 looking for Odysseus
Major Gods in the
Text
Apollo: god of mercy
Athena: favored the Greeks
 during the Trojan war;
 assisted Odysseus on his
 return home
Helios: sun god
Major Gods in the
Text
Poseidon:  becomes an
 enemy to Odysseus; the
 alter ego already
 referred to

								
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