The Odyssey - CESA 10 Moodle

The Odyssey
Pre-reading questions
Pre-Reading Questions
1. Have you ever read a story about the ancient Greeks?
What do you know about the ancient Greek
2. The ancient Greeks were polytheistic (believing in
many gods). What, in your opinion, are the advantages
and disadvantages of worshipping many gods?
3. The Odyssey was written in ancient Greek, a dead
language. You are about to read an English translation.
What is a translation? What is the purpose of an ideal
Pre-reading questions
Pre-Reading Questions
4. Have you ever been lost or lost your way home? What
was it like? How did you feel when you found your way?
5. Why do we read books like The Odyssey? Why read
something that is thousands of years old?
Background- Author
• 7th or 8th century B.C.
• Homer: probable blind and
nomadic poet named who lived
in the town of Smyrna on the
west coast of Asia Minor.
• Presented orally, rather than in
written form
• Written down at the command
of Pisistratus, an Athenian
ruler who was afraid that the
epics would be lost.
Background- Authorship
• A popular theory: stories in The
Odyssey and The Iliad were chosen
from the mythological lore passed
down for generations by singing
storytellers, or bards.
• A series of poets who each composes
orally an entirely different version of
the story
• Developed out of the spoken, sung,
and performed tradition of ancient
Greek storytelling
• Recorded on papyrus
• Inscribed in the Ionic Greek dialect
in dactylic hexameter
Illiad & Trojan War
• Judgment of Paris
• Who is the most beautiful woman?
• Aphrodite: prize is Helen
• Greeks
Story of the last year of the
Trojan War:
War had lasted 10 years.
Troy was defeated when
Ulysses and his men were
able to get inside the walls
of Troy concealed within the
body of the Trojan horse.
Background- Brief Synopsis
• Homer’s The Odyssey is the
story of Odysseus.
• After defeating the Trojans in
the famous Trojan War, it
takes Odysseus ten more years
to finally reach his native
Ithaca, totaling twenty long
years away at war and lost at
• An epic about humans on the
journey of life overcoming
temptations along the way
Background- Brief Synopsis
• Homer condenses the story of
Odysseus’ adventures, using
various narrative devices to provide
back-story as well as push the story
forward toward the moment of
Odysseus’s return.
• The Odyssey covers:
• the customs and beliefs of the
ancient Greek civilization,
• the fantastical world of ancient
Greek mythology:
• mysterious creatures
• deceitful witches,
• powerful gods.
Epic Poetry
An epic: is a long narrative poem that relates the
great deeds/quests of a larger-than-life hero who
embodies the values of a particular society.
•Think Hercules, and Shrek in poetic form.
•The most famous epic poems are The Epic of
Gilgamesh, Illiad, Odyessy, and Beowulf
•In comparison to the standard of Homeric epics
(15,000 lines) …Beowulf is relatively short (3,200
Epic Poetry
Two Types of Epics:
1. Folk Epic- oral compositions passed on from
storyteller to storyteller and has changed over
Ex. -Beowulf, the Iliad, and the Odyssey
2. Literary Epic- written compositions that are
unchanged over time.
Ex. -Aeneid and Paradise Lost
Epic Poetry
• The setting is broad and often includes
supernatural realms, especially the land of the
• The plot is complicated by supernatural beings or
• Written or told using heightened language and
formal diction with a serious tone
• Characters have long, formal speeches
• Poem reflects timeless values (courage, etc)
• Treats universal themes (good vs. evil, etc.)
• Hero’s journey
EPIC POETRYCONVENTIONSShared characteristics of epics that bards/scops drew upon to
recall the stories they were recounting and that writers of
epics drew upon to establish the epic quality of their poems.
• here is an INVOCATION or formal plea for aid/help to a
deity or some other spiritual power.
• The action begins IN MEDIA RES: “in the middle of things”
• Then flashes back to events that took place before the
narrator’s current time setting
• Epic Similes- elaborately extended comparisons relating
heroic events to simple, everyday events
• Epic Similes- elaborately
extended comparisons relating
heroic events to simple,
everyday events
• Epithet: short, descriptive title
• Kleos: glory or renown that
someone earns in the eyes of
others by performing great
Epic Hero
• The hero, generally male, is of noble birth or high
• The epic hero is a “LARGER THAN LIFE
PERSON” who embodies the highest ideals of his
• The hero performs courageous deeds or
undertakes an extraordinary quest
• He maintains humanity
Epic Hero
• His actions determine the fate of many
• Epic hero experiences typical HUMAN EMOTIONS/
FEELINGS, yet is able to master and control these
human traits to a greater degree than a typical person
• It is often necessary for the epic hero to connect/make
contact with “LESSER” humans in order to succeed
• The epic hero is an ARCHETYPAL character
•Greek word archetypos, meaning “first of its
•An archetype is a pattern that appears in
literature across cultures and is repeated through
the ages.
•An archetype can be a character, a plot, an
image, or a setting.
•We unconsciously already recognize the
archetype, and thus the motivations, behind the
character's behavior.
•Universal images/concepts/ ideas that come from
shared common experiences, which transcend
time, place and culture.
Hero’s Journey
3 phases of the hero
•Separation – a break
away from local social
order, the beginning of a
•Initiation – a long
deep retreat inward with
a series of chaotic
encounters which provide
new insight.
•Return – reintegration
into society, coming back
as as a more evolved
Hero’s Journey
•a quest
•a test (to test worthiness)
•a main antagonist, often supernatural/mythical
•a magical/unreal world, unable to be visited by a normal
human, that the hero visits (e.g. the underworld or the
world of the gods)
•low point where hero nearly gives up or appears defeated
•a resurrection (either from being dead or from a deadlike state of mind, or a hero who was thought to be dead
who was rediscovered)
•Restitution: Often this takes the form of the hero
regaining his rightful place on the throne.
Hero’s Journey
Identify a
hero or
from a film
or story and
explain how
journey fits
the three
phases – be
sure to give
Journey of Odysseus
Journey of Odysseus