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The Odyssey An Introduction (of Epic Proportions)
Homer, the Poet • Credited with writing the two most famous epics of all time: the Illiad and the Odyssey. • Stories passed down orally during the Homeric Age. • Poetic form & rhyme– easy for story-teller to remember.
Who Was Homer?:• True identity is unknown• Likely a bard or rhapsode• Could have been a combination of many men?• Lived around 850 B.C.• Blind: Many people believed romantically that performers were blind.• homeros = blind• Lived in Greece
Did Homer Write the Odyssey?• Some Believe He Did • Some Believe He Did Not• The Greek alphabet • Because the Greek originated in early 8th or alphabet did not originate late 9th century BC. until early 8th or late 9th• Homer could have been century BC, it is unlikely one of the first authors to Homer would have use the Greek alphabet to written down oral epic write down oral epic poetry. poetry. • Homer likely had a literate scribe write down his oral epic poetry.
Greek Story-Telling• Homer passed his stories on via traveling story-tellers called “rhapsodes”• Sometimes stories were turned into plays• Greek theater performed outside• No actresses, only actors• No scenery• Actors wore masks and high platform shoes– they moved very slowly
Homer’s Two Epics• The Illiad tells about a 10 year war fought on the plains beyond the walls of Troy, Greece• War fought between the people of Troy and an alliance of early Greek kings
The Illiad• The war began when Helen, the wife of Greek king Menelaus and the most beautiful woman in the world, ran off with Paris, the prince of Troy.
The Illiad • The 10-year battle ended when Odysseus, king of Ithaca (a Greek island), broke into the walls of Troy with the Trojan horse “gift.” • Troy was burnt to the ground & many were killed
The Trojan War • Was there ever a Trojan War? • There probably was a Trojan War but was much different from Homer’s depiction of it in The Iliad • Archaeological evidence shows the War may have taken place around 1220 BC and that the city Homer calls Troy was likely destroyed by fire • The Odyssey was likely composed 500 years after the War
Before The Odyssey • Laertes, King of Ithaca and a great fighter in his youth, marries Anticlea. • They purchase a slave woman, Eurycleia • Laertes and Anticlea have a son. • He is named Odysseus by his grandfather Autoclycis, and looked after by Eurycleia
Before The Odyssey• Odysseus is raised with his younger sister Ctimene and another family slave Eumaeus.• On a boar-hunt with Autoclycus’ sons, he is badly wounded in the thigh• Odysseus loves hunting, especially with his dog Argus.• When he is sent of a mission to Messene, he meets Iphitus, son of Eurytus, who gives him a special bow as a gift. Odysseus uses this in Ithaca but takes it nowhere else.
Before The Odyssey• Odysseus becomes the wise and gentle king of Ithaca and marries Penelope, daughter of Spartan King Icarius.• He builds their bedroom and constructs a bed around the base of an olive-tree.• Odysseus does not want to join the Trojan War, but he does so just after his son Telemachus is born.
Before The Odyssey• Odysseus and his wife Penelope had one son, Telemachus, who was a toddler when Odysseus was summoned to join the kings• Odysseus really didn’t want to go to war so when the other kings came for him, he pretended to be insane and not recognize his visitors. He continued to plow his fields.
Before The Odyssey• Because Odysseus ignored the other kings, King Menelaus and Agamenon threw Telemachus in front of the plow.• Odysseus revealed his sanity when he turned the plow to avoid running over his son.
Before The Odyssey• As he leaves, Odysseus tells Penelope that if he does not return, she is to remarry when Telemachus comes of age.• He leaves Mentor or Laertes in charge of the palace in Ithaca.
Odysseus & the Trojan Horse• Odysseus originated idea of the Trojan horse• His army built a large wooden horse and hid Odysseus & members of his army inside.• The Greeks offered it to the Trojans as a sign of their surrender and the Trojans accepted the gift and brought it inside the walls of their city.• In the night, Odysseus and his men crept out, unlocked the gates of the city, and the battle began.
The Odyssey• The Greek kings parted ways and went home after their victory• The Odyssey is the story of Odysseus’ 10- year journey to return home to his family.• He must use his heroic strength and guile to outsmart monsters, gods, and women and goddesses who try to seduce him
The Odyssey Background• On Odysseus’s way home from war, Athena arranged for storms to blow the Greeks (Achaeans or Argives) off course as they attempted to sail home from the war.• Athena was outraged because a Greek warrior Ajax had desecrated her temple by attempting to rape Cassandra (daughter of last king of Troy) at her temple.• The Greeks did not punish the man who tried to rape Cassandra at Athena’s shrine
The Odyssey Background • Athena’s anger lead to the Greeks’ wanderings off course • However, Odysseus was Athena’s favorite Greek warrior, so she does help him on his way home
Before The Odyssey• After conquering Troy, the Greeks depart for home from Troy and various adventures befall them.• In particular, Nestor, King of Pylos, arrives home safely and soon.• The lesser Ajax is drowned, presumably for his rape of Cassandra at Athena’s temple.• Menelaus, husband of Helen, has adventures at sea for eight years, especially in Egypt.
Before The Odyssey• Agamemnon, leader of the expedition, arrives home in Argos to be killed by Aegisthus, lover of his wife Clymenstra;• Agamemnon’s death is avenged by his son Orestes eight years later;• (Before the war Agamemnon had sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia for a favorable wind to help his sailors arrive in Troy.)• Odysseus has one false start leaving Troy before he eventually sets off
The Odyssey Background• Because Odysseus is gone, his home is over- run with over 100 suitors (men who want to marry his wife).• Penelope, his wife, and Telemachus, his 21- year-old son, do not have the power to eject the suitors from their home• Telemachus, the heir to Odysseus, is constantly in danger.• Due to his young age and lack of power, he cannot seek help from other Greeks; he cannot eject the suitors from his home
The Setting of Ithaca• Odysseus, the king of the island Ithaca maintains control over Ithaca—even though he is away for 20 years—because of his skills which lead to his control.• The city of Ithaca was based on power• Odysseus is a great warrior, an excellent sailor, the best carpenter, the best hunter, the finest marksman, and the leading expert on caring for farm animals. He is also extremely intelligent.
The Setting of Ithaca• Ithaca has no coined money; wealth is measured by livestock, household furnishings, servants, slaves, and treasure.• Slavery is encouraged in Ithaca; having slaves is a symbol of power and wealth• Piracy, war, raids on foreign cities, and the capture of women are all accepted means of increasing wealth• The first thing Odysseus does after leaving Troy is to sack Ismarus, take their goods and steal their women.
The Odyssey Background• In Ithaca, if Telemachus tried to assume his father’s throne, he would likely be overthrown and killed• If Penelope does not soon choose a suitor, a civil war may begin on Ithaca.
The Odyssey Background • If Penelope does choose a suitor, Telemachus’s life is in danger unless he is willing to give up his claim to the throne • Penelope may have to choose a suitor to save her family’s life and Ithaca
Odysseus’s Journey Home• (will be reveled in detail in The Odyssey in flash- back)• For 3 years Odysseus is blown around the Mediterranean, experiencing adventures with the Cicones, the Lotus Eaters, the Cylops Polyphemus; Aeolus, the wind-god, giant cannibals; the witch Circe; the underworld; the Sirens; more monsters;• Eventually he is swept ashore to the island of Calypso where he spends 7 years. (It is at this point where we first meet Odysseus.)
The Gods in The Odyssey• To the ancient Greeks, the gods were real, controlled everything, & interacted with human affairs.
Athena • Goddess of Wisdom • Known as “the grey-eyed goddess” • Zeus’s first wife was Metis, meaning Wisdom • Zeus swallowed Metis before she was to give birth to Athena. • He knew 2nd child would dethrone him. • Athena was born from her father Zeus’s head • Always at Odysseus’s side, offering help and advice. • She also helps Telemachus on his journey.
Poseidon• God of the Sea• Odysseus’s enemy• Known for his arrogance and brutishness• Often seen with a trident• The father of the Cyclops
Odysseus & the Gods • Homer used both Athena and Poseidon as alter-egos for Odysseus: good vs. evil • Odysseus is known for his cleverness but can also be stubborn and arrogant.
Domestic Life in Ancient Greece as seen in The Odyssey• Real men cry. Crying is a natural expression of emotion.• Even royalty are expected to do chores.• Parents are involved in arranging marriages.• Embracing someone’s knees shows respect, humility, and petition.
Domestic Life in Ancient Greece• Poets and poetry were an important part of ancient Greek life for entertainment & instruction.• Gave gifts to guests upon arrival and departure.• Strangers were always welcome.
Themes in The Odyssey• Hospitality as a serious and important obligation in Greek culture : always be polite to your guests; however, this expectation prevents Telemachus and Penelope from removing the suitors from their home
Themes in The Odyssey• The danger of hubris : hubris is excessive pride that leads to destruction. Odysseus is often guilty of hubris and Athena must rescue him• The importance of moderation : Giving in to excess or temptation, whether food, drink, or other pleasures, will cause a person harm. The Sirens’ song leads to destruction and the suitors’ desires lead to their destruction.
Themes in The Odyssey • The expected roles for women and men in Greek society : Men are almost always superior to women, except in Sparta where women have more rights. • The role of fate : Characters receive hints as to their fate; however, some choose to ignore the foreshadowing
Themes in The Odyssey• The similarities between Greek gods and mortals : The gods have many of the same negative traits as humans and often cause destruction.• Gods may choose to save one person and many others will die as a result.• The gods are given credit for all that is good, they are sometimes blamed for bringing destruction to mortals.• Why do you think their gods are so similar to humans?
Themes in The Odyssey • Loyalty : Penelope is expected to wait for Odysseus, gone for more than 20 years. • Telemachus must stand for his father, who he does not even remember, against the suitors. • However, there are characters who do not remain loyal to Odysseus and their fate is not good.
Themes in The Odyssey• Perseverance : work to survive in any situation• Vengeance : It is acceptable to hurt or kill those who are disloyal. The end of the epic shows what happens to those who defy Odysseus
Themes in The Odyssey• Appearance vs. Reality : Athena takes on many different characters’ identities and even animals’ when helping Telemachus or Odysseus.• Athena can even change others’ appearances for reasons such as checking on someone’s loyalty or making a good impression on a king.
Themes in The Odyssey• Spiritual Growth : Telemachus and Odysseus both experience struggles which cause them to mature spiritually by the end of the epic.
Greek Monster Q & A• What is the name of the mortal woman who could turn into a dragon-like monster with snakes for hair?• A) Athena• B) Medusa• C) Scylla MEDUSA
Greek Monster Q & A • What is the name of the giant who only has one eye in the middle of his forehead? • A) Cyclops • B) Charybdis • C) CirceCYCLOP S
Greek Monster Q & A• What is the name of the sea monster with four eyes, six long necks with grisly heads, each of which contained three rows of sharp teeth. Her body consisted of twelve tentacle- like legs and a cats tail and with four to six dog-heads ringing her waist.• A) Charybdis• B) Harpie• C) Scylla SCYLLA
Greek Monster Q & A• What is the name of the giant whirlpool who sucked in and burped out the waters of the sea and anything in his path?• A) Siren• B) Pandora• C) Charybdis CHARYBDIS
Greek Monster Q & A• Who were the sea goddesses and seductresses who had the heads of women and the bodies of birds?• A) the Harpies• B) the Sirens• C) the Sphinx The SIRENS
Greek Monster Q & A • Who was the sorceress who turned people into hideous beasts with human brains? • A) Circe • B) Hera • C) ArtemisCIRCE