The Odyssey Background Notes. Written by Homer

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1 The Odyssey Background Notes Written by Homer

2 The Iliad and the Odyssey are epic poems that were composed in Greece around B.C.! The events are based on mythology and legend, but can be factual.! These were both told orally, and often sung.! Until 1871, Troy was believed to be fictional. Archeologists found a walled city in the area described. It is located what is now known as Northwestern Turkey. Homer is believed to be a blind poet that is given credit for writing these pieces. However, because of its oral nature, these stories could have been created by many and written down by him.

3 The Epic! A long narrative poem about the adventures of a hero whose actions reflect the ideals and values of a nation or race. (The Language of Literature, p. 482)! Epics address universal themes: --Good vs. Evil --Life vs. Death --Sin vs. Redemption! The complete Odyssey has 12,000 lines and is divided into 24 books.

4 Characteristics of an Epic (info. taken from The Language of Literature, p. 482)! The story is set in many locations, real or imaginary, across a wide area.! The hero is an important historical or legendary character of high social position--a king or prince, for example.! The hero is usually pitted against overwhelming odds and must be strong and courageous.! Supernatural events and beings play an important role in the plot.! The story is told in language that is formal and grand, but simple and clear.

5 Characters in The Odyssey! Odysseus our hero who through his intelligence helps the Greeks eventually with the war against Troy through the use of the Trojan horse.

6 Characters in The Odyssey! Telemachus Odysseus son who has been at home all of these years awaiting the return of his father. He is now called by Athena to search for his father and to rid his home of the suitors who wish to wed his mother and take Odysseus place at king of Ithaca. Because so many years have passed, most people believe Odysseus is dead.

7 Characters in The Odyssey! Penelope wife of Odysseus. Even though most think her husband is dead, she still hopes he is not. For many years she cleverly fools the suitors to keep from having to marry again.

8 The Trojan War! Thought to have occurred around 1200 B.C.! According to legend, it was thought to have started because the prince of Troy, named Paris, stole Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world, from her husband, King Menelaus, who was the king of Sparta. Menelaus recruited many kings and soldiers from all over Greece to help him rescue his wife and take revenge on Troy. The battle is said to have lasted 10 years.

9 How did the Trojan War end?! Odysseus was one of the many Greeks who sailed to Troy and besieged the walled city. He thought of a plan that made the Trojans think the Greeks had given up.! He devised a giant wooden horse to be built that would be left at the gates of Troy at night.! The Trojans, finding the statue and no Greeks in sight (except for one left purposefully there to validate the plan), they pulled the Trojan horse inside their walled city.! After all had celebrated their victory, the Greeks snuck out of the horse and launched a surprise attack on the Trojans eventually burning their city to the ground and recapturing Helen.

10

11 The story of Odysseus...! Deals with the adventures he has to overcome as he tries to make his way home to Ithaca where his wife, Penelope, and child, Telemachus, whom he has not seen since Telemachus was just born.! He leaves Troy with 12 ships and approximately 720 men.! He does not encounter military opponents, but monsters and enchanting women who try to keep him from his wife.

12 What happened to Odysseus after the Trojan War?! Telemachus and Penelope, back in Ithaca, have been tortured for these years by hundreds of suitors vying for Penelope s hand to become the next king. Telemachus decides to go in search of answers on whether his father is alive or dead.

13 What happened to Odysseus after the Trojan War?! Telemachus finds news that indeed his father is alive, yet still doubts who he is and if he will come home.! Odysseus is stuck for the next 7 years on an enchanted island with goddess, Calypso. She has tricked him into forgetting time.

14 What happened to Odysseus after the Trojan War?! Upon returning to Ithaca, Odysseus reveals himself to Telemachus, his son and a few servants.! Together, they formulate a plan to get rid of the suitors and recapture Odysseus s kingdom.

15 Olympian Gods and Goddesses! During Homer s time, gods and goddesses played an important role in their lives.! They believed that the gods took an active interest in human s affairs and often engaged in punishing humans, meddling in love affairs, quarrels, and even were jealous of humans.

16 Olympian Gods and Goddesses! Athena, daughter of Zeus and goddess of wisdom, and purposeful battle.! Athena assists Odysseus and Telemachus with divine powers throughout the epic and she speaks up for them in the councils of the gods on Mount Olympus.! She often appears in disguise as Mentor, an old friend of Odysseus.

17 Olympian Gods and Goddesses! Poseidon, god of the sea, was determined to see Odysseus fail to get home.! Although the suitors are Odysseus s mortal antagonists, Poseidon is his divine antagonist.! He despises Odysseus for blinding his son, Polyphemus, and constantly hampers his journey home.

18 Minor Characters and Creatures! Antinous- leader of Penelope's suitors who plots to kill Telemachus, is rude to a disguised Odysseus! Eurymachus- another suitor who revolts against Odysseus! Amphinomus- a kinder suitors who Odysseus tries to convince to leave but still dies in the battle

19 Minor Characters and Creatures! Eumaeus- loyal swineherd who helps Odysseus when he finally arrives home! Eurycleia- old servant to Odysseus and Penelope who recognizes Odysseus by the scar on his foot

20 Minor Characters and Creatures! Calypso- beautiful nymph who falls in love with Odysseus and holds him prisoner there for seven years! Polyphemus- one of the Cyclops (one-eyed giants) who is blinded by Odysseus as Odysseus escapes from his cave! Circe- goddess who transforms Odysseus's crew into pigs, makes Odysseus her lover, and gives him advice for his journey

21 Minor Characters and Creatures! Laertes- Odysseus's aging father who lost his wife to grief! Tiresias- prophet in the underworld who tells Odysseus he will one day return to Ithaca! Alcinous- King of the Phaeacians who offers Odysseus hospitality, hears the story of Odysseus's journey, and provides him with safe passage back home

22 Minor Characters and Creatures! Charybdis- Dangerous whirlpool personified as a female monster! Lotus Eaters- inhabitants of a land visited by Odysseus and his crew! Scylla- a six-headed female sea monster! Sirens-sea nymphs who sing songs that lure men to their deaths

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