Epic: a long, narrative poem about the adventures of gods and heroes.Epic Hero: a character whose actions are noble or inspiring. They often overcome foes or escape from difficulties.Epic/Heroic/Homeric Simile: a long, elaborate comparison of unlike subjects. They go on for several lines and usually compare the ordinary to the unknown.Epithet: a word or phrase used to describe or characterize a person or thing. Example: "Zeus, lord of the clouds."
In medias res: when a story begins in themiddle of the action. All exposition is skipped.Episode: the division of an epic.Oral Tradition: the passing of songs, storiesand poems from generation to generation byword of mouth.Archetype: a theme, plot, setting, charactertype, or hero that recurs in many differentcultures. Example: the battle of good vs. evil;innocence lost; misbegotten lovers, etc.Rhapsodes: they are "singers of tales." Theywere the ones who told the epics in the oraltradition, before these poems (stories) werewritten down.
Elements of an Epic• A physically impressive hero of national or historical importance.• A vast setting involving much of the known physical world, and sometimes the land of the dead and mythological realms as well.• Action such as a quest or journey taken in search of something of value.• Evidence of supernatural forces at work (i.e., help of gods, goddesses, etc.)• Glorification of the hero at the end.• A rootedness in a specific culture or society.
Background Information• Homer (Greek) is credited with first composing The Illiad (about the Trojan War.). • The Trojan War lasted for 10 years in Troy (Troy = modern day Turkey). • the cause of the Trojan War = the Greek King Menelaus had his wife, Helen, stolen by the Trojan Prince Paris. • The Odyssey is about what Greek King Odysseus (of Ithaca) experiences trying to return home to Ithaca after 10 years at the Trojan War. The Odyssey is the 2nd epic attributed to Homer. • The Illiad and The Odyssey were used in Greek schools to teach their cultures values. The Illiad is the model for the epic of war.The Odyssey is the model for the epic of long journeys.
The War Story Background The Illiad is set in the 10th and final year of the Trojan War. The Greeks attack Troy to avenge the insult done to King Menelaus of Sparta (Greek). Menelauss brother, Agamemnon, leads the unified Greek kings in battle against Troy. When the Greeks finally win, they trash the city of Troy and kill all the inhabitants except those they were taking back to Greece as slaves. The readers of The Odyssey would have already known the story of Achilles and the names of deeds of other Greek war heroes.
The Wooden Horse• For 10 years the Greeks tried to enter Troy, with no success. King Odysseus hatches a plan: The Greeks build a huge wooden horse that is hollow inside. They fill the horse with Greek soldiers, roll it to the gates of Troy, and then move their camps as if they have left and as if the wooden horse is a peace offering. The Trojans see this, think theyve won the war, roll the horse inside the city gates, and start to get drunk. Once the Trojans pass out drunk, the Greeks jump out of the horse and kill the Trojans, except for the captives to be used as slaves.• ** SO The Odyssey picks up the story after this point. - Myths: stories that use fantasy to express ideas about life that cannot be easily explained in realistic terms. They are religious in that they focus on the relationship between humans and gods. - Alter Ego: a character who serves as a reflection of a heros best or worst qualities. Poseidon is the alter ego of Odysseus.• ** The Odyssey is 11,300 lines long**
The Plot Structure of the Odyssey• Books 1-4: the adventures of Telemachus as he searches for his father, King Odysseus. He (Telemachus) leaves Ithaca and seeks the help of other Greek kings in searching for Odysseus.• Books 5-8: Adventures of Odysseus as he leaves Calypsos island (Ogygia) and arrives in Phaeacia.• Flashback = Books 9-12: Odysseus recounts his travels and experiences to the Phaeacians and their king, Alcinous.• Books 13-24: about Odysseus landing on Ithaca, the battle with the suitors, and the final recognition and reunion of Odysseus with Telemachus, Penelope, and Odysseuss father, Laertes.
** Property of an epic = Invocation of the Muse: thepoet prays for inspiration to relay his tale/ song/ poemfrom one of the 9 muses. The Muses weremythological daughters of Zeus and were creditedwith inspiring music, arts, theater, story telling(anything artistic). The poem starts with Homer invoking the Muse. (Book I)Homer is asking the Muse (Calliope) to help him retellthe story of Odysseus.
BOOK 5: When We Meet Odysseus in the Textbook Calypsos island of Ogygia (not #1 chronologically):• Odysseus has spent 7 years on the island as her boy toy. (some of the time he enjoyed).• Line 41-47: epic simile: "A gull patrolling…up to the cave." This compares how a seagull skims the water (known) to how Hermes, a god, skims the water (unknown). - Calypsos cave/island is described like a paradise. Meanwhile, Odysseus is miserable. - Calypso tells Odysseus that its her idea to let him go. Shes saving her pride; also, she truly feels for Odysseus. - Epithet: line 101: "Son of Laertes, versatile Odysseus…"
BOOKS 6-8 - line 120: epithet = Odysseus refers to himself as Laertess son. This shows his humility and how his family has taken on more importance to him than the glories of a king. - Line 145: he values his home and family most. (this theme is the driving force of the poem.).• **Odysseus and his men spent 3 days with the Cicones. 72 men die there (Book 9) - line 179: epithet: "Zeus, the lord of cloud" - 3 days theyre stuck in the storm (p.898)• 9 days drifting on the open sea (p.898)
BOOK 9 (This starts the flashback books)• The Lotus Eaters – on the 10th day they land in the Land of the Lotus Eaters (#3 on your kill map). Odysseus sends 3 men to check things out. The Lotus Eaters are friendly and start feeding the 3 men the lotus plant. ( narcotic). None die; this is an example of Odysseus acting like a good leader because he wont leave them and drags them back to the ship before they lose all memory of home.
The Land of the Cyclopes (Past)Odysseus’s impression of the Cyclopes before they get to the island:• Giants, louts• Lawless = no organized system of government.• Uncivilized = distasteful way of life to the ancient Greeks• Cruel and barbaric, like cave men• They do not have an agrarian (agricultural) way of life = very distasteful to the ancient Greeks
•Polyphemuss mother isThoosa, a sea nymph anddaughter of Phorkys, also a seagod, who lives in a cave inIthaca.•Odysseus and crew spendseveral days on lush islandnearby watching the Cyclopes.They had to stop on island dueto heavy fog. They spend theirtime feasting and relaxing. Onthe 3rd day, they leave the lushisland and go to the Land of theCyclopes.
Day 1 Setting: cold, harsh environment. Very stony and uninviting. They see the Cyclops Polyphemus, son of Poseidon. Polyphemus is huge (prodigious). He lives alone taking care of his livestock. Hes very savage- looking. Odysseus and his crew dock. He picks 12 of his best fighting men to go with him. He tells the rest to stay with the ships and guard everything. [an example of Odysseus acting like a good leader]. Odysseus thinks ahead and brings along good wine as a peace offering. • **Odysseus is the cleverest of the ancient heroes of Greece because his protector is Athena, goddess of wisdom.• ** Polyphemus is an archetypal character representing the brute forces any hero must overcome.
- they go into Polyphemuss cave while hes out. They check out the food in the cave. Them men suggest that they take the food and milk products and leave. *Odysseus refuses to leave. Hes curious and wants to see Polyphemus up close. [an example of Odysseus acting human, rather than heroic]. - Odysseus and his men make a fire and burn an offering to the gods. They eat some of Polyphemuss food. - Polyphemus puts down his load of food. Odysseus and his men hide. Polyphemus brings in his animals, then moves a huge stone slab in front of the door. No way for Odysseus and his men to get out.• Polyphemus starts his evening chores and discovers Odysseus and his men. He asks O. if hes a friend or foe, beggar or merchant. • **Immediately, he has broken the ancient tradition of courtesy to strangers. Foreshadows events to come, which are bad. Odysseus is afraid but acts bravely. He talks to the Cyclops about being at Troy and traveling, but doesnt give his name. He reminds Polyphemus about the customary treatment for guests, and plugs in a little threat to try to make Polyphemus do the right thing.
Polyphemus insults Odysseus and says Cyclops dont fear the gods (a sacrilege). Then he tries to find out where the ships are. Odysseus lies to protect his men; he says theyre shipwrecked and there were no other survivors. **Polyphemus eats 2 men. Odysseus doesnt try to kill Polyphemus because they would be unable to escape the cave because of the stone slab.• Odysseus and the remaining 10 men freak out and CRY. Polyphemus goes to sleep and Odysseus draws his sword and wants to stab at Polyphemus, but stops. He stops because he realizes they will be trapped in the cave since they are unable to move the stone slab. This is an example of Odysseus using his intellect and thinking before he acts.
Day 2- Polyphemus starts the next morning doing his chores as if nothings wrong. Then he eats 2 more men for breakfast.- Line 304-305 : simile- Polyphemus leaves the cave with his animals, then replaces the stone slab behind him. Odysseus and his men are trapped, but he hatches a plan to get out of the cave and injure Polyphemus.- They see a green olive tree and they cut out a 6-foot portion. They sharpen that section. Then put it in the fire to harden the big spike. They then hide the weapon in a pile of poop in the cave and wait for Polyphemus to return. Odysseus and the men toss to see who will help stab Polyphemus. Odysseus is the captain and the best men were chosen to help him in the toss.- 5 plus Odysseus will blind Polyphemus in his sleep.- Line 332-333: example of foreshadowing.- Polyphemus returns and closes the slab over door, and begins his evening chores.
Day 2 Cont... - He eats 2 more men for dinner. - Odysseus uses the Pramnian wine he had brought to get Polyphemus drunk. He says hell cut a deal with Odysseus if he gives him more wine. He agrees and gives him more. Polyphemus asks him his name. Odysseus tricks him and tells him his name is Nohbdy last. * irony: Nohbdy = Nobody. - The escape: Odysseus and his men stab Polyphemus in the eyeball and pop it while hes passed out drunk. They cant kill him or theyll be trapped in the cave and starve to death. They tie rams together in threes and using willow from Polyphemuss bed. Then, he ties each of his men under the middle ram (Odysseus being clever). Odysseus waits until all other men are secure; he then puts himself under a single, large ram. They wait until the morning. Heroic act = Odysseus is putting himself at the greatest risk to protect his men.
- moment of tension: the men get out of theDay 3 cave safely, but Polyphemus (blind) stops the one under which is Odysseus. He stops it and talks to it : Irony = Polyphemus asks the ram where "Nohbdy" is. He doesnt realize that Nohbdy/Odysseus is under his hand. (line 450-456) - Personification: Polyphemus talks to the ram like it is concerned for him. - Odysseus and his men make it safely back to the ship and take Polyphemuss sheep with them. They load up and pull out to sea; distraught over lost (eaten) men. - Line 476: Odysseus lets his emotions take over (acting human, not heroic). When theyre out to sea, in anger Odysseus shouts back at Polyphemus and baits him. - Polyphemus breaks off a hilltop and hurls it at their ship. They are washed back closer to the shore. They row twice as far away and Odysseuss men beg him not to shout at Polyphemus anymore.
Day 3 Cont... - Odysseus refuses. He shouts at Polyphemus anyway and tells him his real name. Polyphemus says he knew about Odysseus from a prophecy. - Polyphemus calls out to his father, Poseidon, and asks him to kill/curse Odysseus. His father hears him. - Line 526: Odysseus blasphemes the power of Poseidon. - Line 529-538: *Polyphemuss curse will cause the death of all of Odysseus’s men. - Polyphemus picks up another giant stone and throws it at Odysseus’s ship. It misses. He and his crew head back to the nearby lush island. They unload the animals and divide them up. Odysseus kills the best ram, his, and makes a sacrifice to Zeus. Zeus does not accept the offering because Odysseus blasphemed Poseidon.• They sail off again.
The Wind King (Past) - after they leave Cyclopss island, they land on Aeolia, the island of the wind King, Aeolus. For 1 month they stay here. - When they leave, Aeolus puts all the stormy winds in a bag so Odysseus and his men will have smooth sailing. Aeolus leaves only the good winds free.• ** When they are near home, Odysseuss men open the bag while he sleeps. They are blown back to Aeolia. King Aeolus refuses to help them a 2nd time, thinking they and their voyage and cursed. It will take them much longer to get home now.
Land of the Laestrygonians (Past) **Example of Vast Setting• 11 ships of the 12 enter the harbor here. The 12th ship (carrying Odysseus) remains furthest out in the sea. The Laestrygonians are giant cannibals so, when the 11 ships enter the harbor, thousands of these giants surround and attack the ships, they eat 588 men. They were here for only 1 day. Only the 12th ship, with Odysseus and his 45 crew members down to 45 crew members.
Circe’s Island of Aeaea (Past)- Odysseus divides his crew into 2 groups. Eurylochus with 22 men goes out in a search party to find good, freshwater, and a safe place to rest. Odysseus leads the 2nd group.- Line 539: alliteration- Line 543-546: epic/ homeric/ heroic simile- Eurylochuss group goes out to explore island.- Eurylochuss group finds Circes palace
-Circes singing when they come up. They also see her weaving on her loom, so they think shes friendly. -Polites tells the group they should not fear the goddess; also, he says they have no reason to want to trick her or use stealth -Circe calls them all in -All the men except Eurylochus go into her palace. -Circe makes them comfortable .She seats them on lounging chairs. .She feeds them cheese and barley.She gives them a wine concoction.
Cont...- Line 568: the spiked drink makes the men forget; then she turns them all into pigs/swine. However, they still have the minds of humans.- Eurylochus returns to the ship and reports what happened to Odysseus. The other 22 remain at Circes hall.• He begs Odysseus to leave the island; but, Odysseus wants to save his men (heroic)• * Odysseus goes to save his men, but on the way he meets the god Hermes.• Hermes gives Odysseus a special flower- a moly- to protect Odysseus from Circes magic.• Hermes tell Odysseus he must make the goddess swear shell play no "witchs" tricks on him.• Odysseus heads to Circes palace and she welcomes him.
Odysseus and CirceCirce seats him in a silver-studded chairShe gives him a drink laced with her "unholy drug"She tries to change him into swine, but her trick doesnt work = Odysseus is protected by moly he received from Hermes.Circe then tells him she was previously told of Odysseus and that she wants him to "play and love"Odysseus refuses until she swears an oath that she will try no more tricks.Circe makes the oath and they begin a romantic relationshipOdysseus continues to worry about his men who were transformed into swine: an example of him acting like a good leader.
He refuses to eat and acts disconsolate, much to Circesdismay.Circe tires to cheer up Odysseus, but he refuses until Circechanges his men back - this is an example of his cunning.Circe, in sympathy, frees the men and changes them backinto humans.They appear younger and more handsome.The men and Odysseus weep for joy when reunited. EvenCirce is touched by their emotion.This act by Circe alters Odysseuss opinion of her. Now hecalls her "exquisite."Circe tells Odysseus to stow away all their gear and returnwith all his "dear companions" from the ship. Odysseusobeys because he says he cant resist her.
Odysseus Versus Eurylochus- As Odysseus and his men return to the ship, they find their crewmates weeping. – They cried because they thought the transformed men had been lost. – They cried in relief at seeing their crewmates return safely.- Odysseus gives his men the orders to store their equipment, but Eurylochus opposes this idea.- Eurylochus challenges Odysseuss judgment and authority. He tells the men they should doubt Odysseus because of all their past troubles.
•Eurylochus reminds them of the 6 men eaten by Polyphemus. •He reminds them about the men changed into pigs.Odysseus responds angrily: he wants to kill Eurylochus:an example of him acting humanly and reacting with hisemotions. But, Odysseus is also acting like a strongleader in that he will not tolerate dissension. •The other men tell Odysseus not to worry. •Theyll follow him to Circes hall. •They tell Odysseus to leave Eurylochus behind. They demonstrate their loyalty and respect for Odysseus and Ithaca. •This shows how Odysseus can still be hot-headed and violent = flaws
-Eurylochus and the mengo with Odysseus back toCirces hall. She wines and dines them. The rest helps restore them mentally and physically. This shows Circes compassion contrasted to her cruelty since other humans remain as animals (but not Odysseuss men). **Odysseus and his men are lulled into staying for a year, not thinking of home.
Aeaea Cont... While the men are drunk one night, Elpenor gets too drunk, falls off the roof, and dies. (1 dead). His men begin to long for home.They remind Odysseus that he is a king and has responsibilities in Ithaca as a king/leader.
**Odysseus is torn betweenhis duty and his enjoymentwith Circe (he succumbs tothe same type of danger asthe 3 men faced in the landof the Lotus Eaters). Thistime Odysseus must besaved.Odysseus tells Circe hemust leave. She respondsby telling him what he mustdo.
Again, Circe shows herconcern for Odysseus, whichis contrasted with hercallousness toward otherhumans.She tells them theymust travel to the underworld(aka. The Land of the Dead).She tells him he must seekthe advice of Teiresias, theblind prophet of Thebes(whos dead) before he canfind his way home.
Land of the Dead- Underworld/Hades (past) Book 11 This is an example of a vast setting. The setting is darkness, endless, bottomless. –This foreshadows the grim news that Odysseus will learn from Teiresias. –This foreshadows his mens deaths to come later. Perimedes and Eurylochus help Odysseus make the sacrifices Circe told him to so that he can bring Teiresias back from the dead.
Helping with the sacrificesshows Eurylochuss wishy-washy character. Thisshows Odysseuss ability toforgive. Now, he againtreats Eurylochus with greattrust. They make an altar toTeiresias. This is to convince him to help them. They see many different kinds of dead people - including soldiers. This foreshadows the death of his own men. The blood is symbolic of life; he regains enough "life" to prophesy for Odysseus. Odysseus encounters the following characters from the Trojan War: Ajax, Achilles, and Heracles (aka. Hercules).
More Underworld •**Epithet = "the prince of Thebes" is Teiresias. -Odysseus sees the ghost/ spirit of Elpenor, his man who fell off the roof and died on Circes island. Elpenor tells him he died falling off the roof (Odysseus didnt realize it was partially his fault). This foreshadows how all the other men will die as a result of giving in to their human desires later when they come to Helioss island. •Elpenor serves as a warning.