home‎ > ‎

The Odyssey

"When you set out for Ithaca, pray that your journey's a long one, full of adventure, full of discovery." ~C.P. Cavafy

Background Information

Plot: The Odyssey is the story of a Greek soldier, Odysseus, and his journey to get home to Greece after the Trojan War.

The Iliad: Homer's first epic - tells story of the ten year Trojan War (prequel to the Odyssey)

  • takes place during the 10th and final year of the Trojan War
  • Greeks attack city of Troy
  • Greeks win - destroy the city - kill all the citizens, except for those they take back as slaves

Epic: long narrative poem (doesn't have to rhyme) that tells about the adventures of heroes who in some way embody the values of their civilizations. (Elements of Literature textbook)

  • These epics were usually told orally, over the course of a few days
  • Poets would travel from town to town and people would listen to the stories for entertainment. This is what Homer would have done with The Iliad and The Odyssey

The concept of the "journey" story can be seen in novels/movies today: The Hobbit, The Wizard of Oz, Star Wars, Forest Gump.

Myth: story that uses fantasy to express ideas about life that cannot be expressed easily in realistic terms. Basically, they are religious because they are concerned with the relationship between humans and the unknown or the spiritual world.


Major Characters

Odysseus:

  • heroic figure. Great soldier in Trojan War. Lives in Ithaca.
  • Trying to get home after the end of the war. People of Ithaca do not seem to care about his war record. Originally, he did not want to go to war because he disagreed with the reasons. He tried to pretend being insane to dodge the draft, but ultimately went.
  • Came up with the wooden horse trick to defeat Troy. Built giant wooden horse and placed it at entrance to city. Hid soldiers inside. When the Trojans let the horse in, the soldiers jumped out and attacked the city.
  • Very successful soldier and commander

Penelope: 

  • Odysseus' wife. 
  • Strong female character. 
  • They were married before the war started.

Telemachus: 

  • Odysseus and Penelope's son.
  • Toddler when Odysseus called to war.
  • 20 years old when Odysseus finally returns.
  • Must defend mother from suitors who want to marry his mother and take the inheritance from Odysseus