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What you need to know before reading the Odyssey

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Julia Wald

on 28 October 2016

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Transcript of What you need to know before reading the Odyssey

What you need to know before reading the Odyssey
The Setting:

The setting of the epic is vast in scope, sometimes worldwide and even beyond.

The Hero:

A figure of great national or international importance.

The epic is a broadly defined genre of poetry which retells in a continuous narrative the life and works of a heroic or mythological person or group of persons.

The Action:
The action of the epic involves heroic deeds in battle, such as a long hard journey or a war.

The Supernatural:
The gods or other supernatural beings take an interest and an active part in the great deeds performed in the epic.

The author begins by stating the theme and uses someone who is all knowing and wise to help him in his undertaking.

The story starts in the middle of the action,
in media res,
and at a critical point; the events that happened before the narrative's opening are introduced later on.

Traditional Epic

The story of the journey of Odysseus and his men trying to get home after the Trojan War
Takes place over 10 years
An epic about humans on the journey of life overcoming trials and temptations along the way
The Odyssey

Story of the last year of the Trojan War,
which had lasted 10 years.
He possesses a cunning wit, and uses it more than his physical strength.
He is brave, but he prefers to defeat his enemies with clever deception
He interacts with the gods and receives both their favors and their curses.
He has weaknesses, but he must overcome them to complete his journey.
He is tested and must prove himself again, and again, and again
So, after all this, WHAT MAKES A HERO?
Odysseus as an Epic Hero:

The Trojan Horse

Excels in skill, strength, and courage
Succeeds in a war or adventure
Is generous to his followers but ruthless to his enemies
Values honor and glory

Epic Hero

Homer was a blind, Greek poet who lived around 700 BC.  Little is known about Homer however, what is certain is that his name has been passed in tandem with the two epic poems attributed to him:

The Iliad and The Odyssey. 

Before we read the Odyssey, we need to understand the different types of Heroes in literature.
Troy was defeated when Odysseus and his men were able to get inside the walls of Troy concealed within the body of the Trojan horse.
The Who's Who in
the Odyssey

In Greek mythology, Zeus was the king of Earth and of all the Olympian gods.

He was also known as the god of justice.
Zeus's wife was Hera, who was very jealous of the attention that Zeus paid to other goddesses.
enjoyed the great noise of battle
loved bloody warfare
lived on Conflict and mindless killing
wore golden armor
was the god of games, of business, and of story telling
loved to play tricks on gods and people
he is the fastest of the gods
Zeus's brother
reputation for having a very bad temper
three pronged spear known as the trident is symbol of his power
daughter of Zeus and Metis--a nymph
1/2 sister of Hercules
fierce and brave in battle
She helps Odysseus throughout his journey home
daughter of the sun god Helios
witch and trickster
known for turning men into animals, specifically pigs
Poseidon's son who faced off against Odysseus
They were an entire race & were ALMOST human
Giants with one eye in middle of the head
Sirens or Mermaids
Had body of bird from waist down
Had body of woman from waist up
Sang songs to travelers to lure them to their death on the rocks near their island
Songs were so enchanting that sailors would forget their sense of direction
Has become the archetype for a female seductress
Scylla: Six-Headed Monster
Had 6 dog heads that were attached to scaly necks
On one side of the straights of Messina that Odysseus has to travel through
She loves to snatch sailors out of their ships and eat them. Nom, Nom, Nom.
Nom, Nom, Nom (remember-6 heads!)
Charybdis: Whirlpool
on the opposite side of the straits of Messina
3 times a day she swallows up the sea around her and then spits it back out
Huge razor sharp teeth are located at the bottom of the whirlpool
Epic Stories
As we read The Odyssey:
You must decide if you think Odysseus is a hero. Just because he has been considered a hero by many, is he a hero to you?

What is YOUR definition of hero?

What was the Trojan War?

The Greeks could not get through the Trojan walls and spent nearly 10 years trying to break through. One morning the Greek armies retreated from their camp, leaving a large wooden horse outside the gates of Troy. After much debate, the Trojans pulled the mysterious gift into the city. When night fell, the horse opened up and a group of Greek warriors, led by Odysseus, climbed out and sacked Troy from within.

The Trojan War started when Paris, a Trojan Prince, captured the beautiful Helen from her husband, Menelaus, the king of Sparta.

Helen's jilted husband Menelaus convinced his brother, Agamemnon, to lead an expedition to retrieve her. The group included the Greek heroes Achilles and Odysseus. A fleet of more than a thousand ships sailed across the Aegean Sea to lay siege to Troy and demand Helen’s return.
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