As we begin to study the epic poem The Odyssey by the Greek story teller Homer, we are going to read The Iliad, which is the story that takes place before The Odyssey and describes the events that happen to Odysseus, our epic hero, during the ten-year Trojan War. In order to better understand and appreciate the character relationships, we will take a look at some background information.
Scholars believe that the Greek storyteller Homer was blind and that in the 700s B.C. he lived on the island of Chios in the Mediterranean, along with other rhapsodists or oral storytellers.
Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey were first recorded soon after the Greeks invented their alphabet about 700 B.C. Homer used a basic story pattern that was easily memorized, considering how long these epic poems were. The stories are told by a narrator who is a muse or divine spirit.
The Iliad, which we will read today, is the story of a beautiful woman, Helen, who is taken from her husband, the king of Troy. And this is what starts the Trojan War.
The Odyssey, which we will read over the next two weeks, is the journey of Odysseus, who is the king of Ithaca, who is trying to return home to his family following the ten-year war against the Trojans.
The story of The Iliad is set around 1200 B.C., and it tells the story of how the house of Iliam, which is an ancient Greek city referred to as Troy, falls to the Greeks during a ten-year long battle. And remember the events are caused because Helen, the beautiful wife of the king of Troy, is kidnapped – or wifenapped, I should say.
Key relationships in the Greek culture are centered around husband and wife, and father and son. These are main characters in our story today. First for the house of Troy: King Priam of Troy and his wife Queen Hecuba have two daughters, Polyxena and Cassandra, and they also two sons, Hector and Paris.
The Greeks, who are the ones trying to take down the house of Troy and get Queen back, are these: King Menelaus of Sparta and his wife Queen Helen; King Agamemnon of Mycenae and his wife Clytemnestra and their daughter Iphigenia, who is then the niece of the stolen Queen Helen; King Menelaus and King Agamemnon are brothers; Achilles is a soldier whose mother is the goddess Thetis and his father is a mortal; Patroculus is a soldier and best friends with Achilles, along with Ajax, another soldier; and then Odysseus who is the king of Ithaca and is the epic hero of The Odyssey.
In Greek culture, the gods and goddesses play an important role in the characters’ lives. They are not all-powerful and all-wise, as they often deal with disagreements and jealousy among each other. They are immortal, yet some of them marry mortals. Zeus, who is the king of the gods, must settle any disagreements between them. The other immortals are these: Hera, queen of the gods; Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty; Apollo, god of sun, music, and poetry; Athena, goddess of wisdom, peace, and war; and Poseidon, god of the sea.
As we read and discuss The Iliad, the narrator will refer to a single act that starts the Trojan War, so we will decide what are the cause-and-effect events that lead up to the beautiful Queen Helen being taken from her home.
Homer and the iliad
Homer’s Mini Bio:-Believed to have been blind-Lived in the 700s B.C.on the island ofChios in theMediterranean,where other poetsor rhapsodists resided(http://www.pbs.org/empires/thegreeks/background/3a_p1.html)
Homer’s Tales:Homer wrote two of the most important literaryworks, The Iliad and The Odyssey.His stories were first recorded soon after theGreeks invented their alphabet around 700 B.C.Because he used a basic story pattern, hisstories were easily memorized and told forentertainment.
The Iliad: the story of how a beautiful woman, Helen, is takenfrom her husband, the king of Troy, which starts the Trojan War
The Odyssey: the journey of Odysseus, King of Ithaca, as he tries to get home to his family following the Trojan War
Setting of The Iliad:Time: Around 1200 B.C.Place: The Iliad tells the story of the fall of Ilium,the ancient Greek city commonly referred to asTroy. The epic covers the last six weeks of theten-year war between the Greeks and theTrojans.
Character Relationships in The Iliad:Trojans:Priam, King of Troy and Queen Hecuba-daughters: Polyxena, Cassandra-sons: Hector, Paris
Character Relationships in The Iliad:Greeks:Menelaus, King of Sparta, and wife HelenAgamemnon, King of Mycenae: (brother ofMenelaus); and wife Clytemnestra-daughter Iphigenia (niece of Helen)Achilles: soldier; mother is the goddess Thetiswho married a mortalPatroclus: solider and best friend of AchillesAjax: soldierOdysseus, King of Ithaca
Character Relationships in The Iliad:Gods and Goddesses:Zeus: king of the godsHera: queen of the godsAphrodite: goddess of love and beautyApollo: god of sun, music, and poetryAthena: goddess of wisdom, peace, and warPoseidon: god of the sea
Guiding Question:In Scene 1, the narrator refers to The Iliad as astory of “the tragic consequence of a single act”. What is “that single act” that starts the Trojan War?
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