An Introduction to the Odyssey

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Transcript An Introduction to the Odyssey


Let’s start from the beginning…

 3,000 years ago  Greece  Story telling tradition- stories were passed down by telling them rather than writing them.

 Hundreds of stories were memorized and passed down from generation to generation

A teller of stories…

  Homer (Homeros in Greek) Told of two great war stories in Greek: the Iliad and the Odyssey.

Iliad was a story about a ten-year war that destroyed the city of Troy (sound familiar?)

So, what happened?

 Helen, who was considered the most beautiful woman in the world, left her husband and Greek king, Menelaus, to run off with Paris, a prince of Troy.

 Menelaus, angry that his woman left him, rounds up some men to begin a war between Sparta and Troy.  His army? Old admirers /suitors of Helen, who swore to defend anyone who ends up with her

War Wages

  The Spartans (Menelaus’ crew) destroy allies and everything around Troy, but can’t get through Troy’s walls. What do they do? Build a wooden horse!

The Trojan Horse

  They “offer” the horse as a peace offering. By then, everyone was tired of the war that had been going on for almost 10 years.

The Horse gets through the gates while Spartan soldiers are hiding inside.

 The Trojans celebrate the end of the war by partying it up and drinking.

  Bad idea While everyone was asleep, the Greeks exited the wooden Horse and destroyed anything in site.

Too bad for Helen and Paris

It’s said that because of Helen’s beauty, Menelaus decided not to kill his cheating wife. Instead, he let her live.

So how does the Odyssey fit in?

    Odysseus was one of the Spartan soldiers who fought on Menelaus’ side. The Trojan horse was his idea. After the war, the Spartans felt victorious and boasted of how awesome they were. Because of Odysseus’ arrogance (meaning, he was bragging about himself), the gods decided to punish him.

They make his journey home twice as long, and twice as difficult.

The long road home…

   That is why the story is called “The Odyssey” It is an Epic Journey Odysseus’ journey is prolonged by monsters, gods, goddesses, nature, shipwreck, and foolish men.


  Epics are long narrative poems that tell of the adventures of heroes. They are told to teach the virtues and values of a culture.

The Iliad and the Odyssey were told by Homer to teach about the culture of the Greeks

Characteristics of an Epic

Usually includes the following:  Physically strong hero of national or historical importance  A vast setting-covering a large portion of the world for a journey  A quest or journey in search of something of value (love, gold, weapon, map, etc.)  Supernatural forces involved (gods, creatures, magic, amazing tasks)  The hero glorified at the end

The Theme of The Odyssey

  The theme of the story is about finding one’s proper place in life and learning humility. Odysseus never wanted to go to war in the first place. He didn’t think it was a good idea to go to war over a cheating wife.  When he returns from his adventures, his #1 concern is his own wife: Has she cheated since he’s been gone?

The Religion

  What we consider to be myth today, was at one point someone’s religion.

Each god or goddess played an important role in everyday life    Zeus- god of the sky and ruler of all the gods/goddesses Athena- goddess of wisdom Poseidon-god of the sea who is brutal and violent

While reading the Odyssey

 Keep in mind external and internal conflicts. Odysseus will face many external conflicts because of the monsters & gods.

 It doesn’t matter whether he fails or succeeds. The journey there, and what is learned, is what’s most important.

 His internal conflicts are about controlling his temper, his ego, his urges…

“Man is nothing without the gods.” -Poseidon