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Unformatted text preview: The Odyssey
Background & Themes
Ms. Cosmos, Freshman Language Arts Adapted from Mr. Lewis Introduction to The Odyssey A man named Homer was credited with gathering numerous stories and forming them into two long works,The Illiad and The Odyssey. The Illiad deals with a war between the great city of Troy and an alliance of Greek kings. The Odyssey details the attempt of one Greek solider, Odysseus, to get home after the Trojan War. Background Information- The Illiad The Illiad is set in the tenth and final year of the Trojan War. The Greeks attacked Troy because a king' s wife (named Helen) ran off with a young prince of Troy. The Greeks were eventually victorious. Background Information- The Odyssey The Odyssey deals with Odysseus' s long journey home from the war. In The Odyssey we first meet Odysseus 20 years after leaving Ithaca to fight in Troy and 10 years after having left Troy to return home. The Odyssey is marked by melancholy and a feeling of post-war disillusionment. Unlike many heroes of his time, readers can relate with a character like Odysseus. About the Author No one is quite sure who Homer was. Theories have circulated that Homer was a blind singer or that he was a legend. Some believe that the work of Homer is actually the work of multiple authors. Rhapsodes, or " singers of tales," were singers who traveled from town to town telling stories of history, recent events, and of gods and goddesses. What is an Epic? An epic is a long narrative poem that tells of the adventures of heroes who in some way embody the values of their civilization. For centuries Greeks used The Odyssey in schools in order to teach values. While there are many different types of epics, The Odyssey is a model for the epic of a long journey. How Were the Epics Told? Most stories were sung by people who couldn' t read or write. The singers followed a basic storyline, but improvised the minor details of the story from night to night. The Odyssey is 11,300 lines long. It is assumed that many storytellers summarized parts of the works and went into greater detail during the more exciting scenes. Themes in The Odyssey Good vs. Evil The Everyday Hero Quests of Father and Son Relations between humans and gods Good vs. Evil Heroes & Monsters: Both good (heroes) and evil (monsters) come from the gods. Heroes (good) = men of great courage and wisdom who depict respected values through valiant actions Monsters (evil) = ugly & dangerous, born of anger Greek stories often depict a conflict that arises when these two forces meet. An everyday Hero Greek heroes are usually above all others, just below gods Odysseus is a troubled hero . . . He is known for heroic deeds in the past But . . . He makes many mistakes & shows his flaws on his journey home in The Odyssey Quest of Father and Son The Odyssey tells the story of Odysseus, but also of his son, Telemachus. Odysseus is on a quest to return home. Telemachus is on a quest to find his father and protect his mother and home. Both represent a search (quest) for self at different stages of life: youth and middle age. Relations Between Humans and Gods Gods control all things Gods "play favorites" Humans are expected to respect the gods. Humans who challenge the gods show hubris (excess pride). Athena favors Odysseus, Poseidon is his enemy. Odysseus shows some hubris, and he is punished for this. ...
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