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The Odyssey Introduction

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1 The Odyssey Introduction
English 9 A The Odyssey Introduction

2 Simple Definition A story of Epic proportions
Definition: An extended narrative poem recounting actions, travels, adventures, and heroic episodes

3 Purpose of an Epic Why do poets like Homer write these epics?
To entertain To provoke thought and emotion To present a story about values and beliefs

4 Qualities of an Epic Poem
A physically impressive hero of national or historical performance A vast setting covering much of the known world and sometimes even the Land of the Dead A quest or journey undertaken in search of something important The involvement of supernatural powers A basis in a specific culture or society

5 Qualities of an Epic Hero
Larger than life hero – usually male Embodies the ideals of a nation or race Take part in long, dangerous adventures and accomplish great deeds that require great courage and superhuman strength

6 Characteristics of Epic Poetry
The Call The Threshold The Tests Into the Abyss The Atonement The Return

7 The Call Invites the hero into the adventure
Offers opportunity to face the unknown and gain physical or spiritual value May choose to enter a quest or may be dragged into one Often a “helper” leads the hero throughout the journey

8 The Threshold “Jumping off point” for the adventure
Once past the threshold, the hero enters the unknown, a world filled with challenges and dangers Mentors or helpers can assist the hero, but they cannot take the journey for him If hero is going to grow, he must accept all of the challenges and face them alone

9 The Tests Hero faces a series of challenges or temptations
Must identify and separate real helpers from “tempters” who try to pull the hero away from the path Tempters use fear, doubt, and distraction

10 Into the Abyss The Abyss is the greatest challenge of the journey
Hero faces his greatest fear, and must face it alone Transformation is complete when hero overcomes his fears Goes through a death and rebirth process Sudden change in the way the hero views life

11 The Atonement Hero becomes at one with himself Hero is fully reborn

12 The Return The hero returns to everyday life Hero discovers his gift
May become rich or strong, a great leader, or enlightened spiritually


14 Background 3000 years ago: 1000 B.C.
Homer: Greek storyteller credited with putting together the Iliad and the Odyssey. Iliad: story of the 10 year Trojan War caused by Paris of Troy who stole. . .  Helen, wife of Menelaus, a Greek king (Greece is made up of a group of city states, each controlled by a king) Odyssey: story of Odysseus’ long and wayward return from the Trojan War

15 Epics and Values Epics: a long narrative poem that tells of the adventures of heroes across great spans of time and place. Usually epics contain references to supernatural powers or events. Because the story covers so much territory, the epic contains the ideas, morals, themes and values of a culture from which it is created. Iliad: This is the primary story, the first and best example, the archetype of the war epic. It has the morals and values of the Greek society in war. Odyssey: This is the primary story, the first and best example, the archetype of the story of a long journey. Because the long journey can be seen as a metaphor for living one’s life, this story has been examined more closely. The Odyssey contains the morals, themes and values of the Greek society about adventure, hardship, and life.

16 The Iliad: The War Story Background
Violence and Brutality Trojan War was fought over Helen Menelaus, king of Sparta, wanted his wife back Agamemnon, brother of Menelaus, gathered the army together. Agamemnon, got the wind to sail the ships to Troy by sacrificing his daughter to the gods. Greeks won the war through trickery, the Trojan Horse, created by Odysseus. Achilles, greatest Greek hero, died young in the last year of the war. Agamemnon, killed when he returned home by his wife who had taken a lover.

17 The Wooden Horse A hollow wooden horse the Greeks built, supposedly to honor the Trojans. The Greeks pretended to leave and the horse was brought inside the gates of Troy. At night, the Greeks who were hidden inside slipped out and opened the gates to the city. The Greeks who had returned entered the city and slaughtered the Trojans. The idea for the wooden horse was Odysseus’.

18 The Odyssey: Odysseus, A Hero in Trouble
Odysseus is a very human hero. More than his strength, which was great, Odysseus was known for his clever and agile mind. It was he who thought of using the Trojan Horse to gain entrance to the impregnable walls of Troy. Odysseus: feels the effects of life after the great war his reputation does nothing for him against the unthinking monsters he faces in his journey home. does not have the respect he once had even from the citizens of Ithica, his home has the love and loyalty of his wife, Penelope, and son, Telemachus. did not want to leave his wife and family to go to war in the first place

19 The Ancient World and Ours
At this time in history, the idea of “king” must be taken with a grain of salt. The king of an area might simply by the person who owned the most goats. Treasure was really just anything that might have a use to the people taking it.

20 A Search for Their Places in Life
Odysseus: In a mid-life crisis. Searching for inner peace. Looking to re-join his family. Searching to find a balance in his life. A quest for his identity. Telemachus:  In danger of losing his inheritance. Needs father for guidance and help.   In search of his father.

21 Relationships with the Gods
Myths: stories that show the relationship between the people and the unknown or spiritual realm. Literary Technique: In these stories, the gods can be an alter ego, another version of the person’s personality, a reflection of the character’s best or worst qualities. The god who is on Odysseus’ side will reflect his better or stronger qualities. The god who opposes Odysseus will reflect the darker, more negative side of Odysseus’ personality.

22 Poseidon Poseidon is the god who opposes Odysseus
Poseidon, the god of the sea, tempestuous, violent and cruel. Odysseus is also quick to anger, violent and cruel at times.

23 Athena Athena is a goddess who favors Odysseus
Athena is the goddess of wisdom Athena is a war goddess who fights to protect the homeland. Odysseus is a wise man Odysseus is a warrior who is concerned with protecting his home.

24 Who Was Homer? No one knows for sure.
Greeks believed he was a blind minstrel from the island of Chios. Some scholars say that he never existed. Some scholars argue that Homer was a woman. Homer was a model for the wandering minstrels called rhapsodes – “singer of tales”. Historians and entertainers

25 How were Epics Told? Stories like the Iliad and the Odyssey were originally repeated over and over by people that could not write. Singers would memorize the main story, and then improvise in order to fit a particular rhythm or meter. Repetition was important. The sea is always “wine-dark” and Athena is always “gray-eyed”. Homeric similes were used to explain unfamiliar items by comparing them to a familiar item.

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