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The Odyssey. Homer. Pre-reading questions. Pre-Reading Questions 1. Have you ever read a story about the ancient Greeks? What do you know about the ancient Greek civilization?

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pre reading questions
Pre-reading questions

Pre-Reading Questions

1. Have you ever read a story about the ancient Greeks? What do you know about the ancient Greek civilization?

2. The ancient Greeks were polytheistic (believing in many gods). What, in your opinion, are the advantages and disadvantages of worshipping many gods?

3. The Odyssey was written in ancient Greek, a dead language. You are about to read an English translation. What is a translation? What is the purpose of an ideal translation?

pre reading questions1
Pre-reading questions

Pre-Reading Questions

4. Have you ever been lost or lost your way home? What was it like? How did you feel when you found your way?

5. Why do we read books like The Odyssey? Why read something that is thousands of years old?

background author
Background- Author
  • 7th or 8th century B.C.
  • Homer: probable blind and nomadic poet named who lived in the town of Smyrna on the west coast of Asia Minor.
  • Presented orally, rather than in written form
  • Written down at the command of Pisistratus, an Athenian ruler who was afraid that the epics would be lost.
background authorship disagreement
Background- Authorship disagreement
  • A popular theory: stories in The Odyssey and The Iliadwere chosen from the mythological lore passed down for generations by singing storytellers, or bards.
    • A series of poets who each composes orally an entirely different version of the story
  • Developed out of the spoken, sung, and performed tradition of ancient Greek storytelling
  • Recorded on papyrus
  • Inscribed in the Ionic Greek dialect in dactylic hexameter
illiad trojan war
Illiad & Trojan War


    • Judgment of Paris
    • Who is the most beautiful woman?
    • Aphrodite: prize is Helen


  • Greeks Trojans
    • Odysseus Paris
    • Achilles Laocoon
    • Menelaus Hector
    • Poseidon
    • Athena

Story of the last year of the Trojan War:

War had lasted 10 years.

Troy was defeated when Ulysses and his men were able to get inside the walls of Troy concealed within the body of the Trojan horse.

background brief synopsis
Background- Brief Synopsis
  • Homer’s The Odyssey is the story of Odysseus.
  • After defeating the Trojans in the famous Trojan War, it takes Odysseus ten more years to finally reach his native Ithaca, totaling twenty long years away at war and lost at sea.
  • An epic about humans on the journey of life overcoming temptations along the way
background brief synopsis1
Background- Brief Synopsis
  • Homer condenses the story of Odysseus’ adventures, using various narrative devices to provide back-story as well as push the story forward toward the moment of Odysseus’s return.
  • The Odysseycovers:
    • the customs and beliefs of the ancient Greek civilization,
    • the fantastical world of ancient Greek mythology:
      • mysterious creatures
      • deceitful witches,
      • powerful gods.

Epic Poetry

  • An epic: is a long narrative poem that relates the great deeds/quests of a larger-than-life hero who embodies the values of a particular society.
  • Think Hercules, and Shrek in poetic form.
  • The most famous epic poems are The Epic of Gilgamesh, Illiad,Odyessy, and Beowulf
  • In comparison to the standard of Homeric epics (15,000 lines) …Beowulf is relatively short (3,200 lines)

Epic Poetry

Two Types of Epics:

  • Folk Epic-oral compositions passed on from storyteller to storyteller and has changed over time.
    • Ex. -Beowulf, the Iliad, and the Odyssey
  • Literary Epic-written compositions that are unchanged over time.
    • Ex. -Aeneidand Paradise Lost

Epic Poetry

  • The setting is broad and often includes supernatural realms, especially the land of the dead
  • The plot is complicated by supernatural beings or events
  • Written or told using heightened language and formal diction with a serious tone
  • Characters have long, formal speeches
  • Poem reflects timeless values (courage, etc)
  • Treats universal themes (good vs. evil, etc.)
  • Hero’s journey
epic poetryconventions

Shared characteristics of epics that bards/scops drew upon to recall the stories they were recounting and that writers of epics drew upon to establish the epic quality of their poems.

  • here is an INVOCATION or formal plea for aid/help to a deity or some other spiritual power.
  • The action begins IN MEDIA RES: “in the middle of things”
  • Then flashes back to events that took place before the narrator’s current time setting
  • Epic Similes- elaborately extended comparisons relating heroic events to simple, everyday events
epic poetryconventions1
  • Epic Similes- elaborately extended comparisons relating heroic events to simple, everyday events
  • Epithet: short, descriptive title
  • Kleos: glory or renown that someone earns in the eyes of others by performing great deeds.


Epic Hero

  • The hero, generally male, is of noble birth or high position
  • The epic hero is a “LARGER THAN LIFE PERSON” who embodies the highest ideals of his culture
  • The hero performs courageous deeds or undertakes an extraordinary quest
  • He maintains humanity

Epic Hero

  • His actions determine the fate of many
  • Epic hero experiences typical HUMAN EMOTIONS/ FEELINGS, yet is able to master and control these human traits to a greater degree than a typical person
  • It is often necessary for the epic hero to connect/make contact with “LESSER” humans in order to succeed
  • The epic hero is an ARCHETYPAL character


  • Greek word archetypos, meaning “first of its kind.”
  • An archetype is a pattern that appears in literature across cultures and is repeated through the ages.
  • An archetype can be a character, a plot, an image, or a setting.
  • We unconsciously already recognize the archetype, and thus the motivations, behind the character's behavior.
  • Universal images/concepts/ ideas that come from shared common experiences, which transcend time, place and culture.

3 phases of the hero journey:

    • Separation – a break away from local social order, the beginning of a quest.
    • Initiation – a long deep retreat inward with a series of chaotic encounters which provide new insight.
    • Return – reintegration into society, coming back as as a more evolved person.

Hero’s Journey


Hero’s Journey

  • a quest
  • a test (to test worthiness)
  • amain antagonist, often supernatural/mythical
  • a magical/unreal world, unable to be visited by a normal human, that the hero visits (e.g. the underworld or the world of the gods)
  • low point where hero nearly gives up or appears defeated
  • a resurrection(either from being dead or from a dead-like state of mind, or a hero who was thought to be dead who was rediscovered)
  • Restitution: Often this takes the form of the hero regaining his rightful place on the throne.

Hero’s Journey

Identify a hero or heroine from a film or story and explain how their journey fits the three phases – be sure to give examples.