The Iliad AND THE ODYSSEY. Marshall High School Mr. Cline Western Civilization I: Ancient Foundations Unit Three BC

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1 The Iliad AND THE ODYSSEY Marshall High School Mr. Cline Western Civilization I: Ancient Foundations Unit Three BC

2 Journey to the Underworld With a favorable wind from Circe, they journey to Oceanus, a place where the sun never shines, at the edge of the underworld. Homer likely drew inspiration for this journey from the dream of Enkidu in the Epic of Gilgamesh. The underworld is a sad, dreary place. Upon arrival, Odysseus performs the rite Circe taught him, pouring fresh ram's blood on the ground, to which the shades of the undead greedily flock to drink. The ghost of Tiresias gives him directions. He also reveals to Odysseus that Poseidon is angry with him. Tiresias also tells Odysseus about his future, but I don't want to spoil the story.

3 Journey to the Underworld Tiresias is not the only shade Odysseus encounters. He speaks to the ghosts of his fallen comrades, including Achilles and Agamemnon. He also chats with his mother, as well as a whole cast of dead mythological figures: He sees Minos, the great king, dispensing judgment in the underworld; Tantalus, forever hungering for food just out of reach; and Sisyphus, doomed to forever push a boulder up a hill, only to have it roll down again.

4 Journey to the Underworld The stories Odysseus hears and the sights he sees would provide material and inspiration for countless authors to come from the Greek playwrights to Dante and beyond. Sirens, Scylla, Charybdis, and Cows Emerging from the underworld, Odysseus and his few men return to the island of Circe to bury their comrade Elpenor, lest he be buried at sea (a terrible fate for a Greek). Circe warns them they are about to begin the most dangerous part of their journey. They must sail past the island of the sirens, whose song draws men to a watery grave. Then they must sail through a narrow passage, past the twin dangers of Scylla and Charybdis.

5 Sirens, Scylla, Charybdis, and Cows Scylla is a many-headed monster who devours sailors from above. Charybdis is a beast that sucks ships to their doom from a hollow deep below the rocks. To avoid the tempting song of the sirens, Odysseus stuffs the ears of his crew with wax, though Odysseus leaves his own ears open so that he might hear the song, and has his men tie him to the mast to keep him from leaping overboard. Yet there is no guarantee of safety from Scylla and Charybdis. Odysseus must choose between Scylla, who will likely kill some, and Charybdis, who will surely kill them all. He chooses the former, and the passage costs the lives of 6 more men.

6 Sirens, Scylla, Charybdis, and Cows Despite this loss, Odysseus is the closest he's been to home, when his crew turn against him. They want to take a break on the island of Thrinacia, where the sun god, Helios raises his divine cattle. In the underworld, Tiresias had warned Odysseus that these Cattle of the Sun were not to be touched by mortal men. Odysseus tries to persuade his men to push on just a little further, but they will not budge. They land on the island, and Odysseus forbids his hungry men to eat the cattle. They reluctantly agree. But that night a wind rises, driving away from Ithaca, and the men find themselves stranded on the island for a whole month.

7 Sirens, Scylla, Charybdis, and Cows Nearly starving, his men give in and slaughter the divine bovines. With that, the fate of Odysseus' remaining crew is sealed. Like the bull of heaven from the Epic of Gilgamesh, if you kill the Cattle of the Sun, you must die. Fooled by promising winds, the cursed men set sail again, only to be driven by Zeus back into the clutches of Charybdis, who crushes the ship and drowns the crew, leaving only Odysseus alive, to float west on a timber to the island of Calypso. The Island of Calypso He remains on that island paradise for five years. Yet he is not happy, trapped there by a goddess seeking to make him her husband. His nights he spends as her unwilling bedmate.

8 The Island of Calypso His days he spends weeping on the beach for his home. At long last, Athena persuades her father Zeus to free Odysseus from Calypso's clutches. Calypso releases Odysseus at Zeus' command, but refuses him any aid in his escape. The Final Journey Home Free at last, Odysseus builds a raft and sails for home, with the blessings of the gods behind him. But Poseidon has one last catastrophe up his sleeve. He wrecks Odysseus' raft on the island of Phaecia. There, Odysseus recounts his tale of woe.

9 The Final Journey Home The Phaecians are so moved, they offer to sail him to Ithaca themselves. The Story of Penelope and Telemachus Excellent sailors, and descendents of Poseidon, the Phaecians are true to their word, and deliver Odysseus safely to his home. Though on their return journey, Poseidon punishes them by turning their boat to stone. Nevertheless, after 20 years away, Odysseus is home at last. On the shore he meets Athena, who catches him up on what's been going on in Ithaca for the past two decades.

10 The Story of Penelope and Telemachus Odysseus' wife, Penelope, is hounded day and night by suitors seeking to be the new lord of Ithaca. In their greed, they consume all the resources of his household. Worse yet, they are plotting to kill his son, Telemachus. As guests in his house, they have violated every precept of xenia, the law of hospitality. Penelope, meanwhile, maintains the interest of all the suitors while choosing none. She dare not insult men so important, with no husband to protect her. She promises to pick a suitor once she has finished a large piece of embroidery.

11 The Story of Penelope and Telemachus Odysseus' Revenge All day she spends embroidering at her hoop, and all night she spends picking out the stitches. Before leaving, Athena disguises Odysseus as an old beggar. So disguised, Odysseus visits an old servant of his, a swine herd named Eumaeus, who gives Odysseus a place to sleep and plan. The next day, Odysseus' son Telemachus returns from searching for his father abroad, only to find him in the hut of a swine herd. At Athena's advice, Odysseus reveals his true identity to his son and Eumaeus. Together, they hatch a plot to exact vengeance on the suitors.

12 Odysseus' Revenge Odysseus enters his court incognito, disguised as a beggar. He is offered insult after insult by the suitors, but he bides his time. Seeing that Penelope has yet to make up her mind, and is unlikely to do so, the suitors are trying to decide among themselves who should have her. Odysseus proposes an archery competition, and offers his bow for the suitors to use. The suitors cannot even string the thing. Once they've all tried and tired themselves out, Odysseus takes up his own bow, bends it, and strings it easily.

13 Odysseus' Revenge On cue, Telemachus steps up beside his father in full armor, and the two go on a killing spree. Eumaeus even locks the gates from the outside, so that not one suitor could escape. The End of the Journey Odysseus' trials were long and arduous, but his victory is resounding and complete. Well, almost complete. When the people of Ithaca learn that the heads of their noble families have been summarily murdered, they take up arms against Odysseus. But Athena intervenes, by helping Laertes, Odysseus' father, kill the rebel ringleader.

14 The End of the Journey Yet when Odysseus seeks to press his advantage and slay all those who stood against him, he is halted by a bolt of lightning from Zeus. Even the lord of the land did not have the authority to kill his own people, even when they rose against him. Here, at the very end of The Odyssey, we find the central difference between Near Eastern and Greek culture clearly demonstrated. The cultures of the near east were centripetal. Whoever was strongest always attempted to centralize power. The Greek culture, by contrast, was centrifugal. Driven by a fierce sense of independence and freedom, and emboldened by the protection of mountainous terrain, Greek city-states were always trying to pull away from centralized power and maintain their autonomy.

15 What was true of Greek city-states as a whole was equally true for the citizens of Athens, who would take individual freedom to the highest levels ever known by founding the world's first democracy. History and The Odyssey The Athenians were not the only ones to draw lessons from this epic. The Iliad and The Odyssey were not the first epics of history, nor would they be the last. Yet the depth of their characters, the timelessness of their themes, and the simple beauty of their tales, have established them as the foundation of Western literature. Inspired by these epics, the Greeks would go on to invent the genres of tragedy, comedy and history. The Iliad and The Odyssey established epic as the core of civilization. Future cultures would return, again and again, to The Iliad and The Odyssey, knowing that if they wanted to be taken seriously, they would need an epic of their own.

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