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CHAPTER 13 A DIFFERENT KIND OF HERO: THE QUEST OF ODYSSEUS MAIN POINTS 1. A popular Greek tradition suggests that the Iliad is a work from Homer’s youth and that the Odyssey is a product of his old age. Some modern critics assume that the Odyssey ’s author is a woman. 2. Some differences: the Iliad takes place in a limited space, whereas the Odyssey ’s world is the entire Mediterranean basin, and a tour of heaven, earth, and Hades as well. NOTE: The geography of the Odyssey , while traditionally well mapped, has recently acquired a new, highly controversial interpretation: The Italian nuclear physicist Felice Vinci has, based on his research of Plutarch, published the theory that Calypso’s island Ogygie is not in the Mediterranean, but one of the Faroe Islands (Denmark), which indeed include an island named Hogoyggi. On the basis of this anchor point, Vinci remaps the travels of Odysseus to include the coast of Norway (Scheria), Zealand of Denmark (Pelops), and the island of Bornholm with the town Nexo (Naxos). Ithaca itself he pronounces to be the Danish island of Lyo. He locates Troy by the town of Toija in Finland, and explains the shift in geography to Greece and the Mediterranean by a deterioration of the Nordic climate around 1600 B . C . that prompted a mass exodus south by the members of the local Bronze Age culture who brought their tales of war with them. Vinci supports his claims by pointing out that the weather in the Homeric poems is always cold and foggy, and the Greeks are described as fair-haired. Most classicists remain skeptical of his interpretation, however. 3. The structure of the poem: Odysseus does not appear or speak until Book 5 of the Odyssey . Reference to him in the opening line—as “man of many wiles”— brings him immediately into the listener’s mind. The first four books can then describe conditions in Ithaca in his absence. The story itself covers the six weeks between Odysseus’s departure from Calypso’s island and his revenge on the suitors at Ithaca. 4. The central section tells of his exploits before arriving at Calypso’s island. The end of the poem focuses on his return to his home. 5. Demodocus, the blind bard identified with Homer in the ancient tradition, has received the typical two-edged gift from Zeus. The Muse who inspires his poetic gift has made him blind. 6.
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This note was uploaded on 10/17/2011 for the course CLAS 3302 taught by Professor Landoncook during the Spring '11 term at Texas Tech.

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