Odyssey

Odyssey

Overview
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poem
Epic poetry
An epic is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. Oral poetry may qualify as an epic, and Albert Lord and Milman Parry have argued that classical epics were fundamentally an oral poetic form...

s attributed to Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon
Western canon
The term Western canon denotes a canon of books and, more broadly, music and art that have been the most important and influential in shaping Western culture. As such, it includes the "greatest works of artistic merit." Such a canon is important to the theory of educational perennialism and the...

, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature. It was probably composed near the end of the 8th century BC
8th century BC
The 8th century BC started the first day of 800 BC and ended the last day of 701 BC.-Overview:The 8th century BC was a period of great changes in civilizations. In Egypt, the 23rd and 24th dynasties led to rule from Nubia in the 25th Dynasty...

, somewhere in Ionia
Ionia
Ionia is an ancient region of central coastal Anatolia in present-day Turkey, the region nearest İzmir, which was historically Smyrna. It consisted of the northernmost territories of the Ionian League of Greek settlements...

, the Greek coastal region of Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

.

The poem mainly centers on the Greek hero Odysseus
Odysseus
Odysseus or Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle....

 (or Ulysses, as he was known in Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 myths) and his long journey home after the fall of Troy
Troy
Troy was a city, both factual and legendary, located in northwest Anatolia in what is now Turkey, southeast of the Dardanelles and beside Mount Ida...

.
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Encyclopedia
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poem
Epic poetry
An epic is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. Oral poetry may qualify as an epic, and Albert Lord and Milman Parry have argued that classical epics were fundamentally an oral poetic form...

s attributed to Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon
Western canon
The term Western canon denotes a canon of books and, more broadly, music and art that have been the most important and influential in shaping Western culture. As such, it includes the "greatest works of artistic merit." Such a canon is important to the theory of educational perennialism and the...

, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature. It was probably composed near the end of the 8th century BC
8th century BC
The 8th century BC started the first day of 800 BC and ended the last day of 701 BC.-Overview:The 8th century BC was a period of great changes in civilizations. In Egypt, the 23rd and 24th dynasties led to rule from Nubia in the 25th Dynasty...

, somewhere in Ionia
Ionia
Ionia is an ancient region of central coastal Anatolia in present-day Turkey, the region nearest İzmir, which was historically Smyrna. It consisted of the northernmost territories of the Ionian League of Greek settlements...

, the Greek coastal region of Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

.

The poem mainly centers on the Greek hero Odysseus
Odysseus
Odysseus or Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle....

 (or Ulysses, as he was known in Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 myths) and his long journey home after the fall of Troy
Troy
Troy was a city, both factual and legendary, located in northwest Anatolia in what is now Turkey, southeast of the Dardanelles and beside Mount Ida...

. It takes Odysseus ten years to reach Ithaca
Ithaca
Ithaca or Ithaka is an island located in the Ionian Sea, in Greece, with an area of and a little more than three thousand inhabitants. It is also a separate regional unit of the Ionian Islands region, and the only municipality of the regional unit. It lies off the northeast coast of Kefalonia and...

 after the ten-year Trojan War
Trojan War
In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta. The war is among the most important events in Greek mythology and was narrated in many works of Greek literature, including the Iliad...

. In his absence, it is assumed he has died, and his wife Penelope
Penelope
In Homer's Odyssey, Penelope is the faithful wife of Odysseus, who keeps her suitors at bay in his long absence and is eventually reunited with him....

 and son Telemachus
Telemachus
Telemachus is a figure in Greek mythology, the son of Odysseus and Penelope, and a central character in Homer's Odyssey. The first four books in particular focus on Telemachus' journeys in search of news about his father, who has been away at war...

 must deal with a group of unruly suitors, the Mnesteres (Greek: Μνηστῆρες) or Proci, who compete for Penelope's hand in marriage.

It continues to be read in the Homeric Greek
Homeric Greek
Homeric Greek is the form of the Greek language that was used by Homer in the Iliad and Odyssey. It is an archaic version of Ionic Greek, with admixtures from certain other dialects, such as Aeolic Greek. It later served as the basis of Epic Greek, the language of epic poetry, typically in...

 and translated into modern languages around the world. Many scholars believe that the original poem was composed in an oral tradition
Oral tradition
Oral tradition and oral lore is cultural material and traditions transmitted orally from one generation to another. The messages or testimony are verbally transmitted in speech or song and may take the form, for example, of folktales, sayings, ballads, songs, or chants...

 by an aoidos
Aoidos
The Greek word aoidos or aōidos referred to a classical Greek singer. In modern Homeric scholarship aoidos is used by some as the technical term for a skilled oral epic poet in the tradition to which the Iliad and Odyssey are believed to belong .- Song and poetry in the Iliad and Odyssey :In...

(epic poet/singer), perhaps a rhapsode
Rhapsode
A rhapsode or, in modern usage, rhapsodist, refers to a classical Greek professional performer of epic poetry in the fifth and fourth centuries BC . Rhapsodes notably performed the epics of Homer but also the wisdom and catalogue poetry of Hesiod and the satires of Archilochus and others...

 (professional performer), and was more likely intended to be heard than read. The details of the ancient oral performance, and the story's conversion to a written work inspire continual debate among scholars. The Odyssey was written in a regionless poetic dialect of Greek and comprises 12,110 lines of dactylic hexameter
Dactylic hexameter
Dactylic hexameter is a form of meter in poetry or a rhythmic scheme. It is traditionally associated with the quantitative meter of classical epic poetry in both Greek and Latin, and was consequently considered to be the Grand Style of classical poetry...

. Among the most impressive elements of the text are its non-linear plot, and the influence on events of choices made by women and serfs, besides the actions of fighting men. In the English language
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 as well as many others, the word odyssey has come to refer to an epic voyage.

Exposition


The Odyssey begins ten years after the end of the ten-year Trojan War
Trojan War
In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta. The war is among the most important events in Greek mythology and was narrated in many works of Greek literature, including the Iliad...

, and Odysseus has still not returned home from the war. Odysseus' son Telemachus
Telemachus
Telemachus is a figure in Greek mythology, the son of Odysseus and Penelope, and a central character in Homer's Odyssey. The first four books in particular focus on Telemachus' journeys in search of news about his father, who has been away at war...

 is about 20 years old and is sharing his absent father’s house on the island of Ithaca
Ithaca
Ithaca or Ithaka is an island located in the Ionian Sea, in Greece, with an area of and a little more than three thousand inhabitants. It is also a separate regional unit of the Ionian Islands region, and the only municipality of the regional unit. It lies off the northeast coast of Kefalonia and...

 with his mother Penelope
Penelope
In Homer's Odyssey, Penelope is the faithful wife of Odysseus, who keeps her suitors at bay in his long absence and is eventually reunited with him....

 and a crowd of 108 boisterous young men, "the Suitors", whose aim is to persuade Penelope to marry one of them, all the while enjoying the hospitality of Odysseus' household and eating up his wealth.

Odysseus’ protectress, the goddess Athena
Athena
In Greek mythology, Athena, Athenê, or Athene , also referred to as Pallas Athena/Athene , is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, justice, and skill. Minerva, Athena's Roman incarnation, embodies similar attributes. Athena is...

, discusses his fate with Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

, king of the gods
Odyssean gods
The Odyssean gods are the ancient Greek gods referenced in Homer's Odyssey.The story's major gods include Athena, Poseidon, Calypso and Circe; minor gods include Ino, Hermes, Zeus, and Heracles.-Major gods:...

, at a moment when Odysseus' enemy, the god of the sea Poseidon
Poseidon
Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

, is absent from Mount Olympus
Mount Olympus
Mount Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece, located on the border between Thessaly and Macedonia, about 100 kilometres away from Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest city. Mount Olympus has 52 peaks. The highest peak Mytikas, meaning "nose", rises to 2,917 metres...

. Then, disguised as a Taphian
Taphians
In Homeric Greece, the islands of Taphos lay in the Ionian Sea off the coast of Acarnania in northwestern Greece, home of sea-going and piratical inhabitants, the Taphians...

 chieftain named Mentes
Mentes
In Greek mythology, Mentes is the name of two different Trojan War leaders, the King of the Cicones and the King of the Taphians and the son of Antiloches ....

 (otherwise known as “Mentor”), she visits Telemachus to urge him to search for news of his father. He offers her hospitality; they observe the Suitors dining rowdily while the bard Phemius
Phemius
In Homer's epic poem, the Odyssey Phemius is an Ithacan poet who performs narrative songs in the house of the absent Odysseus. His audience is made up largely of the "Suitors" , who live in the house while attempting to persuade Penelope to marry one of them...

 performs a narrative poem for them. Penelope objects to Phemius' theme, the "Return from Troy" because it reminds her of her missing husband, but Telemachus rebuts her objections.

That night Athena, disguised as Telemachus, finds a ship and crew for the true Telemachus. The next morning, Telemachus calls an assembly of citizens of Ithaca to discuss what should be done with the suitors. Accompanied by Athena (still disguised as Mentor), he departs for the Greek mainland and the household of Nestor
Nestor (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Nestor of Gerenia was the son of Neleus and Chloris and the King of Pylos. He became king after Heracles killed Neleus and all of Nestor's siblings...

, most venerable of the Greek warriors at Troy, now at home in Pylos
Pylos
Pylos , historically known under its Italian name Navarino, is a town and a former municipality in Messenia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Pylos-Nestoras, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit. It was the capital of the former...

. From there, Telemachus rides overland, accompanied by Nestor's son, Peisistratus
Peisistratus (Odyssey)
Peisistratus or Peisistratos or Pisistratus was a figure in Greek mythology, the youngest son of Nestor. He became an intimate friend of Telemachus, son of Odysseus, and travelled with him on his unsuccessful search for his father...

, to Sparta
Sparta
Sparta or Lacedaemon, was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece, situated on the banks of the River Eurotas in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC, when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non-Dorian population. From c...

, where he finds Menelaus
Menelaus
Menelaus may refer to;*Menelaus, one of the two most known Atrides, a king of Sparta and son of Atreus and Aerope*Menelaus on the Moon, named after Menelaus of Alexandria.*Menelaus , brother of Ptolemy I Soter...

 and Helen, now reconciled. He is told that they returned to Sparta
Sparta
Sparta or Lacedaemon, was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece, situated on the banks of the River Eurotas in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC, when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non-Dorian population. From c...

 after a long voyage by way of Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

. There, on the island of Pharos
Pharos
Pharos may refer to:Lighthouses:* The Pharos of Alexandria, a tower built on the island of Pharos that became one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World* The Pharos, either of two Roman lighthouses built at Dubris...

, Menelaus encountered the old sea-god Proteus
Proteus
In Greek mythology, Proteus is an early sea-god, one of several deities whom Homer calls the "Old Man of the Sea", whose name suggests the "first" , as protogonos is the "primordial" or the "firstborn". He became the son of Poseidon in the Olympian theogony In Greek mythology, Proteus (Πρωτεύς)...

, who told him that Odysseus was a captive of the nymph Calypso
Calypso (mythology)
Calypso was a nymph in Greek mythology, who lived on the island of Ogygia, where she detained Odysseus for a number of years. She is generally said to be the daughter of the Titan Atlas....

. Incidentally, Telemachus learns the fate of Menelaus’ brother Agamemnon
Agamemnon
In Greek mythology, Agamemnon was the son of King Atreus and Queen Aerope of Mycenae, the brother of Menelaus, the husband of Clytemnestra, and the father of Electra and Orestes. Mythical legends make him the king of Mycenae or Argos, thought to be different names for the same area...

, king of Mycenae
Mycenae
Mycenae is an archaeological site in Greece, located about 90 km south-west of Athens, in the north-eastern Peloponnese. Argos is 11 km to the south; Corinth, 48 km to the north...

 and leader of the Greeks at Troy: he was murdered on his return home by his wife Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra or Clytaemnestra , in ancient Greek legend, was the wife of Agamemnon, king of the Ancient Greek kingdom of Mycenae or Argos. In the Oresteia by Aeschylus, she was a femme fatale who murdered her husband, Agamemnon – said by Euripides to be her second husband – and the Trojan princess...

 and her lover Aegisthus
Aegisthus
In Greek mythology, Aegisthus was the son of Thyestes and of Thyestes' daughter, Pelopia....

.


Escape to the Phaeacians


Then the story of Odysseus is told. He has spent seven years in captivity on Calypso's island, Ogygia
Ogygia
Ogygia , is an island mentioned in Homer's Odyssey, Book V, as the home of the nymph Calypso, the daughter of the Titan Atlas, also known as Atlantis in ancient Greek. In Homer's Odyssey Calypso detained Odysseus on Ogygia for 7 years and kept him from returning to his home of Ithaca, wanting to...

. Calypso falls deeply in love with him but he has consistently spurned her advances. She is persuaded to release him by Odysseus' great-grandfather, the messenger god Hermes
Hermes
Hermes is the great messenger of the gods in Greek mythology and a guide to the Underworld. Hermes was born on Mount Kyllini in Arcadia. An Olympian god, he is also the patron of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of the cunning of thieves, of orators and...

, who has been sent by Zeus in response to Athena's plea. Odysseus builds a raft and is given clothing, food and drink by Calypso. When Poseidon finds out that Odysseus has escaped, he wrecks the raft, but Odysseus swims ashore on the island of Scherie
Scheria
Scheria –also known as Scherie or Phaeacia– was a geographical region in Greek mythology, first mentioned in Homer's Odyssey as the home of the Phaiakians and the last destination of Odysseus before returning home to Ithaca.-Odysseus meets Nausikaa:In the Odyssey, after Odysseus sails...

 (helped by a veil given by the sea nymph Ino
Ino
-Arts and music:*"I'm Not Okay" , a 2004 song by American alternative rock band My Chemical Romance*I-No, a character in the Guilty Gear series of video games*Ino , a queen of Thebes in Greek mythology...

), the home of the Phaeacians, where, naked and exhausted, he hides in a pile of leaves and falls asleep. The next morning, awakened by the laughter of girls, he sees the young Nausicaa
Nausicaa
Nausicaa is a character in Homer's Odyssey . She is the daughter of King Alcinous and Queen Arete of Phaeacia. Her name, in Greek, means "burner of ships".-Role in the Odyssey:...

, who has gone to the seashore with her maids to wash clothes, after Athena appeared to her in a dream and told her to do so. He appeals to her for help. She encourages him to seek the hospitality of her parents, Arete
Arete (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Queen Arete of Scheria was the wife of Alcinous and mother of Nausicaa and Laodamas. She welcomed Odysseus and treated him hospitably. Her name appears to be associated with the Ionic noun...

 and Alcinous
Alcinous
Alcinous or Alkínoös was, in Greek mythology, a son of Nausithous, or of Phaeax , and father of Nausicaa, Halius, Clytoneus and Laodamas with Arete. His name literally means "mighty mind"...

, or Alkinous. Odysseus is welcomed and is not at first asked for his name. He remains for several days, takes part in a pentathlon
Pentathlon
A pentathlon is a contest featuring five different events. The name is derived from Greek: combining the words pente and -athlon . The first pentathlon was documented in Ancient Greece and was part of the Ancient Olympic Games...

, and hears the blind singer Demodocus perform two narrative poems. The first is an otherwise obscure incident of the Trojan War, the "Quarrel of Odysseus and Achilles
Achilles
In Greek mythology, Achilles was a Greek hero of the Trojan War, the central character and the greatest warrior of Homer's Iliad.Plato named Achilles the handsomest of the heroes assembled against Troy....

"; the second is the amusing tale of a love affair between two Olympian gods, Ares
Ares
Ares is the Greek god of war. He is one of the Twelve Olympians, and the son of Zeus and Hera. In Greek literature, he often represents the physical or violent aspect of war, in contrast to the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and...

 and Aphrodite
Aphrodite
Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation.Her Roman equivalent is the goddess .Historically, her cult in Greece was imported from, or influenced by, the cult of Astarte in Phoenicia....

. Finally, Odysseus asks Demodocus to return to the Trojan War theme and tell of the Trojan Horse
Trojan Horse
The Trojan Horse is a tale from the Trojan War about the stratagem that allowed the Greeks finally to enter the city of Troy and end the conflict. In the canonical version, after a fruitless 10-year siege, the Greeks constructed a huge wooden horse, and hid a select force of men inside...

, a stratagem in which Odysseus had played a leading role. Unable to hide his emotion as he relives this episode, Odysseus at last reveals his identity. He then begins to tell the story of his return from Troy.


Odysseus' account of his adventures


After a piratical raid on Ismaros
Ismara
Ismara also Ismaros or Ismarus is a city of the Cicones, mentioned in the Odyssey.-Homeric Ismaros:After their departure from Troy, Odysseus and his companions stop at Ismaros. They sack the town, and attack the Cicones, the inhabitants of the adjacent region...

 in the land of the Cicones
Cicones
The Cicones, Ciconians or Kikonians, were a Homeric Thracian tribe, whose stronghold in the time of Odysseus was the town of Ismara , located at the foot of mount Ismara, on the south coast of Thrace . They are mentioned in book two of the Iliad as having joined the war on the side of the Trojans,...

, he and his twelve ships were driven off course by storms. They visited the lethargic Lotus-Eaters
Lotus-eaters
In Greek mythology, the lotus-eaters , also referred to as the lotophagi or lotophaguses or lotophages , were a race of people living on an island near North Africa dominated by lotus plants...

 who gave two of his men their fruit which caused them to forget their homecoming, and then were captured by the Cyclops
Cyclops
A cyclops , in Greek mythology and later Roman mythology, was a member of a primordial race of giants, each with a single eye in the middle of his forehead...

 Polyphemus
Polyphemus
Polyphemus is the gigantic one-eyed son of Poseidon and Thoosa in Greek mythology, one of the Cyclopes. His name means "much spoken of" or "famous". Polyphemus plays a pivotal role in Homer's Odyssey.-In Homer's Odyssey:...

, escaping by blinding him with a wooden stake. While they were escaping, however, Odysseus foolishly told Polyphemus his identity, and Polyphemus told his father, Poseidon, that Odysseus had blinded him. Poseidon then curses Odysseus to wander the sea for ten years, during which he would lose all his crew and return home through the aid of others. After their escape, they stayed with Aeolus
Aeolus
Aeolus was the ruler of the winds in Greek mythology. In fact this name was shared by three mythic characters. These three personages are often difficult to tell apart, and even the ancient mythographers appear to have been perplexed about which Aeolus was which...

, the master of the winds and he gave Odysseus a leather bag containing all the winds, except the west wind, a gift that should have ensured a safe return home. However, the sailors foolishly opened the bag while Odysseus slept, thinking that it contained gold. All of the winds flew out and the resulting storm drove the ships back the way they had come, just as Ithaca came into sight.

After unsuccessfully pleading with Aeolus to help them again, they re-embarked and encountered the cannibalistic Laestrygonians
Laestrygonians
The Laestrygonians are a tribe of giant cannibals from ancient Greek mythology. Odysseus, the main character of Homer's Odyssey, visited them during his journey back home to Ithaca...

. All of Odysseus’s ships except his own entered the harbor of the Laestrygonians’ Island. Odysseus sent emissaries to the Laestrygonians, who killed and ate one of them and destroyed all the ships but Odysseus's own. He sailed on and visited the witch-goddess Circe
Circe
In Greek mythology, Circe is a minor goddess of magic , described in Homer's Odyssey as "The loveliest of all immortals", living on the island of Aeaea, famous for her part in the adventures of Odysseus.By most accounts, Circe was the daughter of Helios, the god of the sun, and Perse, an Oceanid...

. She turned half of his men into swine after feeding them cheese and wine. Hermes warned Odysseus about Circe and gave Odysseus a drug called moly
Moly (herb)
Moly is a magic herb mentioned in book 10 of Homer's Odyssey.In the story, Hermes gave this herb to Odysseus to protect him from Circe's magic when he went to her home to rescue his friends. These friends came together with him from the island Aiolos after they escaped from the Cyclops...

which gave him resistance to Circe’s magic. Circe, being attracted to Odysseus' resistance, agreed to bargain with him. She agreed to change his men back to their human form in exchange for Odysseus' love. They remained with her on the island for one year, while they feasted and drank. Finally, guided by Circe's instructions, Odysseus and his crew crossed the ocean and reached a harbor at the western edge of the world, where Odysseus sacrificed to the dead and summoned the spirit of the old prophet Tiresias
Tiresias
In Greek mythology, Tiresias was a blind prophet of Thebes, famous for clairvoyance and for being transformed into a woman for seven years. He was the son of the shepherd Everes and the nymph Chariclo; Tiresias participated fully in seven generations at Thebes, beginning as advisor to Cadmus...

 to advise him of how to appease the gods upon his return home. Next Odysseus met the spirit of his own mother, who had died of grief during his long absence. From her, he learned for the first time news of his own household, threatened by the greed of the Suitors. Here, too, he met the spirits of famous women and famous men. Notably he encountered the spirit of Agamemnon, of whose murder he now learned, and Achilles, who told him about the woes of the land of the dead (for Odysseus' encounter with the dead, see also Nekuia).

Returning to Circe’s island, they were advised by her on the remaining stages of the journey. They skirted the land of the Siren
Siren
In Greek mythology, the Sirens were three dangerous mermaid like creatures, portrayed as seductresses who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island. Roman poets placed them on an island called Sirenum scopuli...

s, who sang an enchanting song that normally caused passing sailors to steer toward the rocks, only to hit them and sink. All of the sailors except for Odysseus, who was tied to the mast, had their ears plugged up with beeswax. They then passed between the six-headed monster Scylla
Scylla
In Greek mythology, Scylla was a monster that lived on one side of a narrow channel of water, opposite its counterpart Charybdis. The two sides of the strait were within an arrow's range of each other—so close that sailors attempting to avoid Charybdis would pass too close to Scylla and vice...

 and the whirlpool Charybdis
Charybdis
Charybdis or Kharybdis was a sea monster, later rationalised as a whirlpool and considered a shipping hazard in the Strait of Messina.-The mythological background:...

, and landed on the island of Thrinacia
Thrinacia
Thrinakia , also Trinacria or Thrinacie, mentioned in Book 11 of Homer's Odyssey, is the island home of Helios's cattle, guarded by his eldest daughter, Lampetia...

. There, Odysseus’ men ignored the warnings of Tiresias and Circe, and hunted down the sacred cattle of the sun god Helios
Helios
Helios was the personification of the Sun in Greek mythology. Homer often calls him simply Titan or Hyperion, while Hesiod and the Homeric Hymn separate him as a son of the Titans Hyperion and Theia or Euryphaessa and brother of the goddesses Selene, the moon, and Eos, the dawn...

. This sacrilege was punished by a shipwreck in which all but Odysseus drowned. He was washed ashore on the island of Calypso, where she compelled him to remain as her lover for seven years before she was ordered by Zeus to release Odysseus.

Return to Ithaca


Having listened with rapt attention to his story, the Phaeacians, who are skilled mariners, agree to help Odysseus get home. They deliver him at night, while he is fast asleep, to a hidden harbour on Ithaca. He finds his way to the hut of one of his own former slaves, the swineherd Eumaeus
Eumaeus
In Greek mythology, Eumaeus was Odysseus's swineherd and friend before he left for the Trojan War. His father, Ktesios son of Ormenos, was king of an island called Syria. When he was a young child a Phoenician sailor seduced his nurse, a slave, who agreed to bring the child among other treasures...

. Athena disguises Odysseus as a wandering beggar in order to learn how things stand in his household. After dinner, he tells the farm laborers a fictitious tale of himself: he was born in Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

, had led a party of Cretans to fight alongside other Greeks in the Trojan War, and had then spent seven years at the court of the king of Egypt; finally he had been shipwrecked in Thesprotia
Thesprotia
Thesprotia is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the Epirus region. Its capital is the town of Igoumenitsa. It is named after the Thesprotians, an ancient Greek tribe that inhabited the region in antiquity.-History:...

 and crossed from there to Ithaca.

Meanwhile, Telemachus sails home from Sparta, evading an ambush set by the Suitors. He disembarks on the coast of Ithaca and makes for Eumaeus’s hut. Father and son meet; Odysseus identifies himself to Telemachus (but still not to Eumaeus) and they determine that the suitors must be killed. Telemachus gets home first. Accompanied by Eumaeus, Odysseus now returns to his own house, still pretending to be a beggar. He is ridiculed by the suitors in his own home, especially by one extremely impertinent man named Antinous
Antinous son of Eupeithes
In Greek mythology, Antinous , son of Eupeithes, is most known for his role in Homer’s Odyssey. One of two prominent suitors vying for Penelope’s hand in marriage, the other being Eurymachus, Antinous is presented as a violent, mean-spirited character who willfully defiles Odysseus’ home while the...

. His son is beaten up by the larger men to show his "transition to manhood", and Odysseus attempts to stop the fight; as a result, Antinous throws a chair at him and laughs at him. Odysseus meets Penelope and tests her intentions with an invented story of his birth in Crete, where, he says, he once met Odysseus. Closely questioned, he adds that he had recently been in Thesprotia and had learned something there of Odysseus’s recent wanderings.
Odysseus’s identity is discovered by the housekeeper, Eurycleia, as she is washing his feet and discovers an old scar Odysseus had received during a boar hunt. He had received the scar when he was hunting with the sons of Autolycus
Autolycus
In Greek mythology, Autolycus was a son of Hermes and Chione. He was the husband of Neaera, or according to Homer, of Amphithea...

. They had been told to go boar hunting so that they could prepare a meal with the meat. The three climbed Mount Parnassus
Mount Parnassus
Mount Parnassus, also Parnassos , is a mountain of limestone in central Greece that towers above Delphi, north of the Gulf of Corinth, and offers scenic views of the surrounding olive groves and countryside. According to Greek mythology, this mountain was sacred to Apollo and the Corycian nymphs,...

 and eventually came across a boar in a large and deep meadow. Because of the meadow's depth, the three hunters were ambushed by the seemingly invisible boar and when Odysseus first saw the animal, he rushed at it but the animal was too fast and slashed him in the right thigh. Despite being gored by the boar, Odysseus still hit his mark and stabbed the boar through the shoulder. Odysseus' bleeding was staunched by a spell that was chanted by the sons of Autolycus and he received great glory and treasure for his bravery. Having seen this scar, Eurycleia tries to tell Penelope about Odysseus' true identity, but Athena makes sure that Penelope cannot hear Eurycleia. Meanwhile, Odysseus swears her to secrecy, and she promises not to tell.

Slaying of the Suitors


The next day, at Athena’s prompting, Penelope maneuvers the Suitors into competing for her hand with an archery competition using Odysseus' bow. The man who can string the bow and shoot it through a dozen axe heads would win. Odysseus takes part in the competition himself: he alone is strong enough to string the bow and shoot it through the dozen axe heads, making him the winner. He then turns his arrows on the Suitors and with the help of Athena, Telemachus, Eumaeus and Philoteus the cowherd, he kills all the Suitors. Odysseus and Telemachus hang twelve of their household maids, who had betrayed Penelope or had sex with the Suitors, or both; they mutilate and kill the goatherd Melanthius
Melanthius (Odyssey)
Melanthius, the son of Dolius, plays the minor, yet important character of Odysseus' disloyal goatherd in Homer's Odyssey. In contrast, Odysseus' cowherd, Philoetius, and swineherd, Eumaeus, have both remained loyal to Odysseus during his twenty years of wanderings, as had the father and six...

, who had mocked and abused Odysseus. Now at last, Odysseus identifies himself to Penelope. She is hesitant, but accepts him when he mentions that their bed was made from an olive tree still rooted to the ground. Many modern and ancient scholars take this to be the original ending of the Odyssey, and the rest to be an interpolation.

The next day he and Telemachus visit the country farm of his old father Laertes
Laertes
In Greek mythology, Laërtes was the son of Arcesius and Chalcomedusa. He was the father of Odysseus and Ctimene by his wife Anticlea, daughter of the thief Autolycus. Laërtes was an Argonaut and participated in the hunt for the Calydonian Boar...

, who likewise accepts his identity only when Odysseus correctly describes the orchard that Laertes had previously given him.

The citizens of Ithaca have followed Odysseus on the road, planning to avenge the killing of the Suitors, their sons. Their leader points out that Odysseus has now caused the deaths of two generations of the men of Ithaca: his sailors, not one of whom survived; and the Suitors, whom he has now executed. The goddess Athena intervenes and persuades both sides to give up the vendetta
Vendetta
Vendetta may refer to:*Feud, a long-running argument or fight between parties-Film and television:* Vendetta, a 1919 German film featuring Harry Liedtke* Vendetta , an American drama produced by Howard Hughes...

, a deus ex machina
Deus ex machina
A deus ex machina is a plot device whereby a seemingly inextricable problem is suddenly and abruptly solved with the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability, or object.-Linguistic considerations:...

.
After this, Ithaca is at peace once more, concluding the Odyssey.

Character of Odysseus



Odysseus’ name means “trouble” in Greek, referring to both the giving and receiving of trouble—as is often the case in his wanderings. An early example of this is the previously mentioned boar hunt, in which Odysseus is injured by the boar and responds by killing it. Odysseus' heroic trait is his mētis, or "cunning intelligence": he is often described as the "Peer of Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

 in Counsel." This intelligence is most often manifested by his use of disguise and deceptive speech. His disguises take forms both physical (altering his appearance) and verbal, such as telling the Cyclops
Cyclops
A cyclops , in Greek mythology and later Roman mythology, was a member of a primordial race of giants, each with a single eye in the middle of his forehead...

 Polyphemus
Polyphemus
Polyphemus is the gigantic one-eyed son of Poseidon and Thoosa in Greek mythology, one of the Cyclopes. His name means "much spoken of" or "famous". Polyphemus plays a pivotal role in Homer's Odyssey.-In Homer's Odyssey:...

 that his name is Ουτις, "Noman", then escaping after blinding Polyphemus. When asked by other Cyclopes why he is screaming, Polyphemus replies that "No man" is hurting him, so the others assume that, "If alone as you are [Polyphemus] none uses violence on you, why, there is no avoiding the sickness sent by great Zeus; so you had better pray to your father, the lord Poseidon". The most evident flaw that Odysseus sports is that of his arrogance and his pride, or hubris
Hubris
Hubris , also hybris, means extreme haughtiness, pride or arrogance. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one's own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power....

.
As he sails away from the island of the Cyclopes, he shouts his name and boasts that no one can defeat the "Great Odysseus". The Cyclops then throws the top half of a mountain at him and prays to his father, Poseidon, saying that Odysseus has blinded him. This enrages Poseidon, causing the god to thwart Odysseus' homecoming for a very long time.

Structure


The Odyssey opens in medias res
In medias res
In medias res or medias in res is a Latin phrase denoting the literary and artistic narrative technique wherein the relation of a story begins either at the mid-point or at the conclusion, rather than at the beginning In medias res or medias in res (into the middle of things) is a Latin phrase...

(in the middle of things), meaning that the plot begins in the middle of the overall story, and that prior events are described through flashbacks or storytelling. This device is imitated by later authors of literary epics, for example, Virgil
Virgil
Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...

 in the Aeneid
Aeneid
The Aeneid is a Latin epic poem, written by Virgil between 29 and 19 BC, that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who travelled to Italy, where he became the ancestor of the Romans. It is composed of roughly 10,000 lines in dactylic hexameter...

, as well as modern poets such as Luís de Camões
Luís de Camões
Luís Vaz de Camões is considered Portugal's and the Portuguese language's greatest poet. His mastery of verse has been compared to that of Shakespeare, Vondel, Homer, Virgil and Dante. He wrote a considerable amount of lyrical poetry and drama but is best remembered for his epic work Os Lusíadas...

 in Os Lusíadas
Os Lusíadas
Os Lusíadas , usually translated as The Lusiads, is a Portuguese epic poem by Luís Vaz de Camões ....

or Alexander Pope
Alexander Pope
Alexander Pope was an 18th-century English poet, best known for his satirical verse and for his translation of Homer. He is the third-most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, after Shakespeare and Tennyson...

 in The Rape of the Lock
The Rape of the Lock
The Rape of the Lock is a mock-heroic narrative poem written by Alexander Pope, first published anonymously in Lintot's Miscellany in May 1712 in two cantos , but then revised, expanded and reissued under Pope's name on March 2, 1714, in a much-expanded 5-canto version...

.

In the first episodes, we trace Telemachus
Telemachus
Telemachus is a figure in Greek mythology, the son of Odysseus and Penelope, and a central character in Homer's Odyssey. The first four books in particular focus on Telemachus' journeys in search of news about his father, who has been away at war...

' efforts to assert control of the household, and then, at Athena’s advice, to search for news of his long-lost father. Then the scene shifts: Odysseus has been a captive of the beautiful nymph Calypso
Calypso (mythology)
Calypso was a nymph in Greek mythology, who lived on the island of Ogygia, where she detained Odysseus for a number of years. She is generally said to be the daughter of the Titan Atlas....

, with whom he has spent seven of his ten lost years. Released by the intercession of his patroness Athena
Athena
In Greek mythology, Athena, Athenê, or Athene , also referred to as Pallas Athena/Athene , is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, justice, and skill. Minerva, Athena's Roman incarnation, embodies similar attributes. Athena is...

, through the aid of Hermes
Hermes
Hermes is the great messenger of the gods in Greek mythology and a guide to the Underworld. Hermes was born on Mount Kyllini in Arcadia. An Olympian god, he is also the patron of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of the cunning of thieves, of orators and...

, he departs, but his raft is destroyed by his divine enemy Poseidon
Poseidon
Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

, who is angry because Odysseus blinded his son, Polyphemus
Polyphemus
Polyphemus is the gigantic one-eyed son of Poseidon and Thoosa in Greek mythology, one of the Cyclopes. His name means "much spoken of" or "famous". Polyphemus plays a pivotal role in Homer's Odyssey.-In Homer's Odyssey:...

. When Odysseus washes up on Scherie
Scheria
Scheria –also known as Scherie or Phaeacia– was a geographical region in Greek mythology, first mentioned in Homer's Odyssey as the home of the Phaiakians and the last destination of Odysseus before returning home to Ithaca.-Odysseus meets Nausikaa:In the Odyssey, after Odysseus sails...

, home to the Phaeacians, he is assisted by the young Nausicaa
Nausicaa
Nausicaa is a character in Homer's Odyssey . She is the daughter of King Alcinous and Queen Arete of Phaeacia. Her name, in Greek, means "burner of ships".-Role in the Odyssey:...

 and is treated hospitably. In return, he satisfies the Phaeacians' curiosity, telling them, and the reader, of all his adventures since departing from Troy. The shipbuilding Phaeacians then loan him a ship to return to Ithaca
Ithaca
Ithaca or Ithaka is an island located in the Ionian Sea, in Greece, with an area of and a little more than three thousand inhabitants. It is also a separate regional unit of the Ionian Islands region, and the only municipality of the regional unit. It lies off the northeast coast of Kefalonia and...

, where he is aided by the swineherd Eumaeus
Eumaeus
In Greek mythology, Eumaeus was Odysseus's swineherd and friend before he left for the Trojan War. His father, Ktesios son of Ormenos, was king of an island called Syria. When he was a young child a Phoenician sailor seduced his nurse, a slave, who agreed to bring the child among other treasures...

, meets Telemachus, regains his household, kills the Suitors, and is reunited with his faithful wife, Penelope
Penelope
In Homer's Odyssey, Penelope is the faithful wife of Odysseus, who keeps her suitors at bay in his long absence and is eventually reunited with him....

.

All ancient and nearly all modern editions and translations of the Odyssey are divided into 24 books. This division is convenient but it may not be original. Many scholars believe it was developed by Alexandrian editors of the 3rd century BC. In the Classical period
Classical Greece
Classical Greece was a 200 year period in Greek culture lasting from the 5th through 4th centuries BC. This classical period had a powerful influence on the Roman Empire and greatly influenced the foundation of Western civilizations. Much of modern Western politics, artistic thought, such as...

, moreover, several of the books (individually and in groups) were given their own titles: the first four books, focusing on Telemachus, are commonly known as the Telemachy
Telemachy
The Telemachy is a term traditionally applied to the first four books of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. They are named so because – just as the Odyssey tells the story of Odysseus – they tell the story of Odysseus' son Telemachus as he journeys from home for the first time in search of news about...

. Odysseus' narrative, Book 9, featuring his encounter with the cyclops Polyphemus, is traditionally called the Cyclopeia. Book 11, the section describing his meeting with the spirits of the dead is known as the Nekuia. Books 9 through 12, wherein Odysseus recalls his adventures for his Phaeacian hosts, are collectively referred to as the Apologoi: Odysseus' "stories". Book 22, wherein Odysseus kills all the Suitors, has been given the title Mnesterophonia: "slaughter of the Suitors". This concludes the Greek Epic Cycle, though fragments remain of the "alternative ending" of sorts known as the Telegony
Telegony
The Telegony is a lost ancient Greek epic poem about Telegonus, son of Odysseus by Circe. His name is indicative of his birth on Aeaea, far from Odysseus' home of Ithaca. It was part of the Epic Cycle of poems that recounted the myths not only of the Trojan War but also of the events that led up...

.

This Telegony aside, the last 548 lines of the Odyssey, corresponding to Book 24, are believed by many scholars to have been added by a slightly later poet. Several passages in earlier books seem to be setting up the events of Book 24, so if it were indeed a later addition, the offending editor would seem to have changed earlier text as well. For more about varying views on the origin, authorship and unity of the poem see Homeric scholarship
Homeric scholarship
Homeric scholarship is the study of Homeric epic, especially the two large surviving epics, the Iliad and Odyssey. It is currently part of the academic discipline of classical studies, but the subject is one of the very oldest topics in all scholarship or science, and goes back to antiquity...

.

Geography of the Odyssey



Events in the main sequence of the Odyssey (excluding Odysseus' embedded narrative of his wanderings) take place in the Peloponnese
Peloponnese
The Peloponnese, Peloponnesos or Peloponnesus , is a large peninsula , located in a region of southern Greece, forming the part of the country south of the Gulf of Corinth...

 and in what are now called the Ionian Islands
Ionian Islands
The Ionian Islands are a group of islands in Greece. They are traditionally called the Heptanese, i.e...

. There are difficulties in the apparently simple identification of Ithaca
Ithaca
Ithaca or Ithaka is an island located in the Ionian Sea, in Greece, with an area of and a little more than three thousand inhabitants. It is also a separate regional unit of the Ionian Islands region, and the only municipality of the regional unit. It lies off the northeast coast of Kefalonia and...

, the homeland of Odysseus, which may or may not be the same island that is now called Ithake. The wanderings of Odysseus as told to the Phaeacians, and the location of the Phaeacians' own island of Scheria
Scheria
Scheria –also known as Scherie or Phaeacia– was a geographical region in Greek mythology, first mentioned in Homer's Odyssey as the home of the Phaiakians and the last destination of Odysseus before returning home to Ithaca.-Odysseus meets Nausikaa:In the Odyssey, after Odysseus sails...

, pose more fundamental problems, if geography is to be applied: scholars, both ancient and modern, are divided as to whether or not any of the places visited by Odysseus (after Ismaros
Ismara
Ismara also Ismaros or Ismarus is a city of the Cicones, mentioned in the Odyssey.-Homeric Ismaros:After their departure from Troy, Odysseus and his companions stop at Ismaros. They sack the town, and attack the Cicones, the inhabitants of the adjacent region...

 and before his return to Ithaca
Ithaca
Ithaca or Ithaka is an island located in the Ionian Sea, in Greece, with an area of and a little more than three thousand inhabitants. It is also a separate regional unit of the Ionian Islands region, and the only municipality of the regional unit. It lies off the northeast coast of Kefalonia and...

) are real.

Dating the Odyssey


In 2008, scientists Marcelo O. Magnasco and Constantino Baikouzis at Rockefeller University
Rockefeller University
The Rockefeller University is a private university offering postgraduate and postdoctoral education. It has a strong concentration in the biological sciences. It is also known for producing numerous Nobel laureates...

 used clues in the text and astronomical data to attempt to pinpoint the time of Odysseus's return from his journey after the Trojan War.

The first clue is Odysseus' sighting of Venus
Venus
Venus is the second planet from the Sun, orbiting it every 224.7 Earth days. The planet is named after Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. After the Moon, it is the brightest natural object in the night sky, reaching an apparent magnitude of −4.6, bright enough to cast shadows...

 just before dawn as he arrives on Ithaca. The second is a new moon on the night before the massacre of the Suitors. The final clue is a total eclipse
Eclipse
An eclipse is an astronomical event that occurs when an astronomical object is temporarily obscured, either by passing into the shadow of another body or by having another body pass between it and the viewer...

, falling over Ithaca around noon, when Penelope's Suitors sit down for their noon meal. The seer Theoclymenus
Theoclymenus
In Greek mythology, Theoclymenus , son of Polypheides, was a prophet from Argos, who, in the Odyssey, had been taken from that city after killing one of his relatives being captured by pirates. He fled to Pylos and sought refuge aboard the ship of Telemachus, who had come to inquire about the fate...

 approaches the Suitors and foretells their death, saying, "The Sun has been obliterated from the sky, and an unlucky darkness invades the world." The problem with this is that the 'eclipse' is only seen by Theoclymenus, and the Suitors toss him out, calling him mad. No-one else sees the sky darken, and it is therefore not actually described as an eclipse within the story, merely a vision by Theoclymenus.

Doctors Baikouzis and Magnasco state that "[t]he odds that purely fictional references to these phenomena (so hard to satisfy simultaneously) would coincide by accident with the only eclipse of the century are minute." They conclude that these three astronomical references "'cohere,' in the sense that the astronomical phenomena pinpoint the date of 16 April 1178 BC" as the most likely date of Odysseus' return.

This dating places the destruction of Troy, ten years before, to 1188 BC, which is close to the archaeologically dated destruction of Troy VIIa circa 1190 BC.

Influences on the Odyssey


Scholars have seen strong influences from Near Eastern mythology and literature in the Odyssey. Martin West
Martin Litchfield West
Martin Litchfield West is an internationally recognised scholar in classics, classical antiquity and philology...

 has noted substantial parallels between the Epic of Gilgamesh
Epic of Gilgamesh
Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic poem from Mesopotamia and is among the earliest known works of literature. Scholars believe that it originated as a series of Sumerian legends and poems about the protagonist of the story, Gilgamesh king of Uruk, which were fashioned into a longer Akkadian epic much...

and the Odyssey. Both Odysseus and Gilgamesh
Gilgamesh
Gilgamesh was the fifth king of Uruk, modern day Iraq , placing his reign ca. 2500 BC. According to the Sumerian king list he reigned for 126 years. In the Tummal Inscription, Gilgamesh, and his son Urlugal, rebuilt the sanctuary of the goddess Ninlil, in Tummal, a sacred quarter in her city of...

 are known for traveling to the ends of the earth, and on their journeys go to the land of the dead. On his voyage to the underworld, Odysseus follows instructions given to him by Circe
Circe
In Greek mythology, Circe is a minor goddess of magic , described in Homer's Odyssey as "The loveliest of all immortals", living on the island of Aeaea, famous for her part in the adventures of Odysseus.By most accounts, Circe was the daughter of Helios, the god of the sun, and Perse, an Oceanid...

, a goddess who is the daughter of the sun-god Helios
Helios
Helios was the personification of the Sun in Greek mythology. Homer often calls him simply Titan or Hyperion, while Hesiod and the Homeric Hymn separate him as a son of the Titans Hyperion and Theia or Euryphaessa and brother of the goddesses Selene, the moon, and Eos, the dawn...

. Her island, Aeaea
Aeaea
Aeaea or Eëa was a mythological island said to be the home of the sorceress Circe. Odysseus tells Alcinous that he stayed here for a year on his way home to Ithaca....

, is located at the edges of the world, and seems to have close associations with the sun. Like Odysseus, Gilgamesh gets directions on how to reach the land of the dead from a divine helper: in this case, the goddess Siduri
Siduri
Siduri is a character in the Epic of Gilgamesh. She is an "alewife", a wise female divinity associated with fermentation. In the Old Babylonian version of the Epic, she attempts to dissuade Gilgamesh in his quest for immortality, urging him to be content with the simple pleasures of life Siduri is...

, who, like Circe, dwells by the sea at the ends of the earth. Her home is also associated with the sun: Gilgamesh reaches Siduri's house by passing through a tunnel underneath Mt. Mashu
Mashu
Mashu, as described in the Epic of Gilgamesh of Mesopotamian mythology, is a great cedar mountain through which the hero-king Gilgamesh passes via a tunnel on his journey to Dilmun after leaving the Cedar Forest, a forest of ten thousand leagues span. The corresponding location in reality has been...

, the high mountain from which the sun comes into the sky. West argues that the similarity of Odysseus' and Gilgamesh's journeys to the edges of the earth are the result of the influence of the Gilgamesh epic upon the Odyssey.

The Cyclops' origins have also been surmised to be the results of Ancient Greeks finding an elephant skull, by paleontologist Othenio Abel in 1914. The enormous nasal passage in the middle of the forehead could have looked like the eye socket of a giant, to those who had never seen a living elephant.

Text history

  • The Athenian tyrant Peisistratos
    Peisistratos (Athens)
    Peisistratos was a tyrant of Athens from 546 to 527/8 BC. His legacy lies primarily in his institution of the Panathenaic Festival and the consequent first attempt at producing a definitive version for Homeric epics. Peisistratos' championing of the lower class of Athens, the Hyperakrioi, can be...

    , who ruled between 546 and 527 BC, is believed to have established a Commission of Editors of Homer to edit the text of the poems and remove any errors and interpolations, thus establishing a canonical text.
  • The earliest papyrus fragments date back to the 3rd century BC.
  • The oldest complete manuscript is the Laurentianus from the 10th or 11th century.
  • The editio princeps
    Editio princeps
    In classical scholarship, editio princeps is a term of art. It means, roughly, the first printed edition of a work that previously had existed only in manuscripts, which could be circulated only after being copied by hand....

     of both the Iliad and the Odyssey is by Demetrius Chalcondyles
    Demetrius Chalcondyles
    Demetrios Chalkokondyles, latinized as Demetrius Chalcocondyles and found variously as Demetricocondyles, Chalcocondylas or Chalcondyles , was a Greek humanist, scholar and Professor who taught the Greek language in Italy for over forty years; at Padua, Perugia, Milan and Florence...

     in Florence
    Florence
    Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

    , most likely from 1488.

Cultural impact

  • Cyclops
    Cyclops (play)
    The Cyclops is an Ancient Greek satyr play by Euripides, the only complete satyr play that has survived antiquity. It is a comical burlesque-like play on the same story depicted in book nine of Homer's Odyssey.-Background:...

    by Euripides
    Euripides
    Euripides was one of the three great tragedians of classical Athens, the other two being Aeschylus and Sophocles. Some ancient scholars attributed ninety-five plays to him but according to the Suda it was ninety-two at most...

    , the only extant
    Extant literature
    Extant literature refers to texts that have survived from the past to the present time. Extant literature can be divided into extant original manuscripts, copies of original manuscripts, quotations and paraphrases of passages of non-extant texts contained in other works, translations of non-extant...

     satyr play
    Satyr play
    Satyr plays were an ancient Greek form of tragicomedy, similar in spirit to burlesque. They featured choruses of satyrs, were based on Greek mythology, and were rife with mock drunkenness, brazen sexuality , pranks, sight gags, and general merriment.Satyric drama was one of the three varieties of...

    , retells the respective episode with a humorous twist.
  • True Story
    True History
    True History or True Story is a travel tale by the Greek-speaking Syrian author Lucian of Samosata, the earliest known fiction about travelling to outer space, alien life-forms and interplanetary warfare. Written in the 2nd century, the novel has been referred to as "the first known text that...

    , written by Lucian
    Lucian
    Lucian of Samosata was a rhetorician and satirist who wrote in the Greek language. He is noted for his witty and scoffing nature.His ethnicity is disputed and is attributed as Assyrian according to Frye and Parpola, and Syrian according to Joseph....

     of Samosata in the 2nd century AD, is a parody of the Odyssey describing a journey beyond the Pillars of Hercules
    Pillars of Hercules
    The Pillars of Hercules was the phrase that was applied in Antiquity to the promontories that flank the entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar. The northern Pillar is the Rock of Gibraltar in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar...

     and to the moon.
  • Some of the tales of Sinbad the Sailor
    Sinbad the Sailor
    Sinbad the Sailor is a fictional sailor from Basrah, living during the Abbasid Caliphate – the hero of a story-cycle of Middle Eastern origin...

     from The Book of One Thousand and One Nights
    The Book of One Thousand and One Nights
    One Thousand and One Nights is a collection of Middle Eastern and South Asian stories and folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age...

    were taken from the Odyssey.
  • Merugud Uilix maicc Leirtis ("On the Wandering of Ulysses, son of Laertes") is an eccentric Old Irish version of the material; the work exists in a 12th-century AD manuscript that linguists believe is based on an 8th-century original.
  • Dante Alighieri
    Dante Alighieri
    Durante degli Alighieri, mononymously referred to as Dante , was an Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher, and political thinker. He is best known for the monumental epic poem La commedia, later named La divina commedia ...

     has Odysseus append a new ending to the Odyssey in canto XXVI of the Inferno
    Inferno (Dante)
    Inferno is the first part of Dante Alighieri's 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy. It is followed by Purgatorio and Paradiso. It is an allegory telling of the journey of Dante through what is largely the medieval concept of Hell, guided by the Roman poet Virgil. In the poem, Hell is depicted as...

    .
  • Il ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria
    Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria
    Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria is an opera in a prologue and five acts , set by Claudio Monteverdi to a libretto by Giacomo Badoaro. The opera was first performed at the Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo in Venice during the 1639–1640 carnival season...

    , first performed in 1640, is an opera by Monteverdi based on the second half of Homer's Odyssey.
  • Every episode of James Joyce's
    James Joyce
    James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was an Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century...

     modernist
    Modernist literature
    Modernist literature is sub-genre of Modernism, a predominantly European movement beginning in the early 20th century that was characterized by a self-conscious break with traditional aesthetic forms...

     novel Ulysses
    Ulysses (novel)
    Ulysses is a novel by the Irish author James Joyce. It was first serialised in parts in the American journal The Little Review from March 1918 to December 1920, and then published in its entirety by Sylvia Beach on 2 February 1922, in Paris. One of the most important works of Modernist literature,...

    (1922) has an assigned theme, technique and correspondences between its characters and those of Homer's Odyssey.
  • The first canto of Ezra Pound
    Ezra Pound
    Ezra Weston Loomis Pound was an American expatriate poet and critic and a major figure in the early modernist movement in poetry...

    's The Cantos
    The Cantos
    The Cantos by Ezra Pound is a long, incomplete poem in 120 sections, each of which is a canto. Most of it was written between 1915 and 1962, although much of the early work was abandoned and the early cantos, as finally published, date from 1922 onwards. It is a book-length work, widely considered...

    (1922) is both a translation and a retelling of Odysseus' journey to the underworld.
  • Nikos Kazantzakis
    Nikos Kazantzakis
    Nikos Kazantzakis was a Greek writer and philosopher, celebrated for his novel Zorba the Greek, considered his magnum opus...

     aspires to continue the poem and explore more modern concerns in The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel
    The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel
    'The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel is an epic poem by Greek poet and philosopher Nikos Kazantzakis, based on Homer's Odyssey. It is divided into twenty-four rhapsodies as is the original Odyssey and consists of 33,333 17-syllable verses. Kazantzakis began working on it in 1924 after he returned to Crete...

    (1938).
  • The 1954 Broadway musical The Golden Apple
    The Golden Apple (musical)
    The Golden Apple is a musical adaptation of parts of each of the Iliad and Odyssey epics of Homer, with music by Jerome Moross and lyrics by John Treville Latouche...

    by librettist John Treville Latouche and composer Jerome Moross
    Jerome Moross
    Jerome Moross was an American-born composer for the stage, and a composer, conductor and orchestrator for motion pictures.-Biography:...

     is freely adapted from the Iliad
    Iliad
    The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

    and the Odyssey, re-setting the action to the American
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

     state of Washington in the years after the Spanish-American War
    Spanish-American War
    The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, effectively the result of American intervention in the ongoing Cuban War of Independence...

    , with events inspired by the Iliad in Act One and events inspired by the Odyssey in Act Two.
  • In Jean-Luc Godard
    Jean-Luc Godard
    Jean-Luc Godard is a French-Swiss film director, screenwriter and film critic. He is often identified with the 1960s French film movement, French Nouvelle Vague, or "New Wave"....

    's film Le Mépris
    Contempt (film)
    Contempt is a 1963 film directed by Jean-Luc Godard, based on the Italian novel Il disprezzo by Alberto Moravia. It stars Brigitte Bardot.-Plot:...

    (1963), German film director Fritz Lang
    Fritz Lang
    Friedrich Christian Anton "Fritz" Lang was an Austrian-American filmmaker, screenwriter, and occasional film producer and actor. One of the best known émigrés from Germany's school of Expressionism, he was dubbed the "Master of Darkness" by the British Film Institute...

     plays himself attempting to direct a film adaptation of the Odyssey.
  • The Japanese-French anime Ulysses 31
    Ulysses 31
    is a Franco-Japanese animated television series that updates the Greek mythology of Odysseus to the 31st century. The show comprised 26 half-hour episodes and was produced by DIC Audiovisuel in conjunction with anime studio Tokyo Movie Shinsha...

    (1981) updates the ancient setting into a 31st-century space opera
    Space opera
    Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes romantic, often melodramatic adventure, set mainly or entirely in outer space, generally involving conflict between opponents possessing advanced technologies and abilities. The term has no relation to music and it is analogous to "soap...

    .
  • Omeros
    Omeros
    Omeros is a 1990 epic poem by Nobel Prize-winning author Derek Walcott. Many consider it his finest work.-Overview:The epic is set on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. Although its name is Omeros it has just a minor touch of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey.The narrative of Omeros is multilayered...

    (1991), an epic poem by Derek Walcott
    Derek Walcott
    Derek Alton Walcott, OBE OCC is a Saint Lucian poet, playwright, writer and visual artist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992 and the T. S. Eliot Prize in 2011 for White Egrets. His works include the Homeric epic Omeros...

    , is in part a retelling of the Odyssey, set on the Caribbean
    Caribbean
    The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

     island of St. Lucia.
  • The Odyssey
    The Odyssey (TV miniseries)
    The Odyssey is a 1997 Emmy award-winning and Golden Globe-nominated American television miniseries. Directed by Andrei Konchalovsky, the miniseries aired in two-parts beginning on May 18, 1997 on NBC. The series later won the award for "Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries or a Special"...

    (1997), a made-for-TV movie directed by Andrei Konchalovsky
    Andrei Konchalovsky
    Andrei Mikhalkov-Konchalovsky is a Soviet-American and Russian film director, film producer and screenwriter....

    , is a slightly abbreviated version of the epic.
  • Charles Frazier's
    Charles Frazier
    Charles Frazier is an award-winning American historical novelist.Frazier was born in Asheville, North Carolina, and graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1973. He earned an M.A. from Appalachian State University in the mid-1970s, and received his Ph.D. in English from the University...

     novel Cold Mountain
    Cold Mountain (novel)
    Cold Mountain is a 1997 historical fiction novel by Charles Frazier. It tells the story of W. P. Inman, a wounded deserter from the Confederate army near the end of the American Civil War who walks for months to return to Ada Monroe, the love of his life; the story shares several similarities with...

    (1997) borrows much from the Odyssey to tell the story of an American Civil War
    American Civil War
    The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

     veteran's homecoming
    Nostos
    Nostos is the Greek word for homecoming. It is a theme dealt with in many Homeric writings such as the Odyssey, in which the main character, Odysseus, strives to get home after the Trojan War...

    .
  • Similarly, Daniel Wallace
    Daniel Wallace (author)
    Daniel Wallace is an American author, best known for his 1998 novel Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions, the basis for the Tim Burton film Big Fish. His other books include Ray in Reverse and The Watermelon King...

    's Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions (1998) adapts the epic to the American South, while also incorporating tall tales
    Tall Tales
    Tall Tales may refer to:* Tall Tales , 2004* Tall Tales , by American band The Hot Club of Cowtown* "Tall Tales" , an episode of the television series Supernatural-See also:...

     into its first-person narrative much as Odysseus does in the Apologoi (Books 9-12).
  • The Coen Brothers'
    Coen Brothers
    Joel David Coen and Ethan Jesse Coen known together professionally as the Coen brothers, are American filmmakers...

     2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou?
    O Brother, Where Art Thou?
    O Brother, Where Art Thou? is a 2000 comedy film directed by Joel and Ethan Coen and starring George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson, John Goodman, Holly Hunter, and Charles Durning. Set in 1937 rural Mississippi during the Great Depression, the film's story is a modern satire loosely...

    is loosely based on Homer's poem.
  • American progressive metal
    Progressive metal
    Progressive metal is a subgenre of heavy metal originating in the United Kingdom and North America in the late 1980s...

     band Symphony X
    Symphony X
    Symphony X is an American progressive metal band from Middletown, New Jersey.Founded in 1994 by guitarist Michael Romeo, their albums The Divine Wings of Tragedy and V: The New Mythology Suite have given the band considerable attention within the progressive metal community...

     interprets multiple scenes of the epic in their song, The Odyssey
    The Odyssey (song)
    The Odyssey is a song by progressive metal band Symphony X released on their 2002 album The Odyssey. It is 24 minutes. The song contains seven parts :-Composition:*Odysseus Theme/Overture The first orchestral segment of the song...

    (2002).
  • Zachary Mason
    Zachary Mason
    Zachary Mason is a computer scientist and author. He is noted for his work The Lost Books of the Odyssey, his debut novel.Mason grew up in Silicon Valley, attended Bard College at Simon's Rock, and received a doctorate from Brandeis University, publishing his thesis A computational, corpus-based...

    's The Lost Books of the Odyssey
    The Lost Books of the Odyssey
    The Lost Books of the Odyssey is a 2007 novel by Zachary Mason, republished in 2010.Mason, who wrote the book while working full time, attempted to publish the book after it won first prize in a 2007 competition sponsored by Starcherone Books, an independent publisher in Buffalo, New York...

    (2007) is a series of short stories that rework Homer's original plot in a contemporary style reminiscent of Italo Calvino
    Italo Calvino
    Italo Calvino was an Italian journalist and writer of short stories and novels. His best known works include the Our Ancestors trilogy , the Cosmicomics collection of short stories , and the novels Invisible Cities and If on a winter's night a traveler .Lionised in Britain and the United States,...

    .
  • Dominic Allen
    Dominic Allen (British playwright)
    Dominic Allen is a British theatre actor and playwright, and one of four company directors of the theatre collective Belt Up Theatre....

    's stage play Odyssey loosely adapts the story into a post-apocalyptic setting, basing the Odysseus character on Ezra Pound
    Ezra Pound
    Ezra Weston Loomis Pound was an American expatriate poet and critic and a major figure in the early modernist movement in poetry...

    .
  • The film Pandorum
    Pandorum
    Pandorum is a 2009 German-British science fiction thriller film written by Travis Milloy, directed by Christian Alvart and produced by Paul W.S. Anderson. The film stars Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster. Filming began in Berlin in August 2008. Pandorum was released on September 25, 2009 in the United...

    has many story elements of the Odyssey.
  • The film Ulysses' Gaze
    Ulysses' Gaze
    Ulysses' Gaze is a 1995 Greek film directed by Theo Angelopoulos. The actor Gian Maria Volonté died during the filming. He was replaced by Erland Josephson.-Plot:...

    (1995) directed by Theo Angelopoulos has many of the elements of the "Odyssey" set against the backdrop of the most recent and previous Balkan Wars.
  • The book Torn from Troy (2011) by Patrick Bowman is the first book in a trilogy that retells Homer's Odyssey as a young adult adventure, told from the point of view of a Trojan slave boy.

Notable English translations


This is a partial list of translations into English of Homer's Odyssey.
  • George Chapman
    George Chapman
    George Chapman was an English dramatist, translator, and poet. He was a classical scholar, and his work shows the influence of Stoicism. Chapman has been identified as the Rival Poet of Shakespeare's Sonnets by William Minto, and as an anticipator of the Metaphysical Poets...

    , 1616 (couplets)
  • Alexander Pope
    Alexander Pope
    Alexander Pope was an 18th-century English poet, best known for his satirical verse and for his translation of Homer. He is the third-most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, after Shakespeare and Tennyson...

    , 1713 (iambic pentameter couplets); Project Gutenberg
    Project Gutenberg
    Project Gutenberg is a volunteer effort to digitize and archive cultural works, to "encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks". Founded in 1971 by Michael S. Hart, it is the oldest digital library. Most of the items in its collection are the full texts of public domain books...

     edition; Gutenberg.net
  • William Cowper
    William Cowper
    William Cowper was an English poet and hymnodist. One of the most popular poets of his time, Cowper changed the direction of 18th century nature poetry by writing of everyday life and scenes of the English countryside. In many ways, he was one of the forerunners of Romantic poetry...

    , 1791 (blank verse)
  • Samuel Henry Butcher and Andrew Lang
    Andrew Lang
    Andrew Lang was a Scots poet, novelist, literary critic, and contributor to the field of anthropology. He is best known as a collector of folk and fairy tales. The Andrew Lang lectures at the University of St Andrews are named after him.- Biography :Lang was born in Selkirk...

    , Project Gutenberg edition; Gutenberg.net
  • William Cullen Bryant
    William Cullen Bryant
    William Cullen Bryant was an American romantic poet, journalist, and long-time editor of the New York Evening Post.-Youth and education:...

    , 1871 (blank verse)
  • Mordaunt Roger Barnard
    Mordaunt Roger Barnard
    Mordaunt Roger Barnard, Rev. was a Church of England clergyman and translator of works from Scandinavian languages. He was the eldest son of Mordaunt Barnard, Rector of Preston Bagot. a rural dean and JP for Essex...

     1876 (blank verse)
  • William Morris
    William Morris
    William Morris 24 March 18343 October 1896 was an English textile designer, artist, writer, and socialist associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the English Arts and Crafts Movement...

    , 1887
  • Samuel Butler, 1898 (prose), Project Gutenberg edition; Gutenberg.net or
  • Padraic Colum
    Padraic Colum
    Padraic Colum was an Irish poet, novelist, dramatist, biographer, playwright, children's author and collector of folklore. He was one of the leading figures of the Celtic Revival.-Early life:...

    , 1918 (prose), Bartleby.com
  • A. T. Murray (revised by George E. Dimock), 1919; Loeb Classical Library
    Loeb Classical Library
    The Loeb Classical Library is a series of books, today published by Harvard University Press, which presents important works of ancient Greek and Latin Literature in a way designed to make the text accessible to the broadest possible audience, by presenting the original Greek or Latin text on each...

     (ISBN 0-674-99561-9)
  • George Herbert Palmer
    George Herbert Palmer
    George Herbert Palmer was an American scholar and author, born in Boston. He attended Phillips Academy, Andover, and in 1864 he graduated at Harvard, to which he returned, after study at Tübingen, Germany, and at Andover Theological Seminary, to be tutor in Greek. He became Alford professor of...

    , 1921, prose. An audio CD recording read by Norman Deitz is available (ISBN 1-4025-2325-4), 1989.
  • T. E. Shaw (T. E. Lawrence
    T. E. Lawrence
    Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence, CB, DSO , known professionally as T. E. Lawrence, was a British Army officer renowned especially for his liaison role during the Arab Revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule of 1916–18...

    ), 1932
  • W. H. D. Rouse
    W. H. D. Rouse
    William Henry Denham Rouse was a pioneering British teacher who advocated the use of the Direct Method of teaching Latin and Greek.-Life:Born in Calcutta India on 31 May 1863...

    , 1937, prose
  • E. V. Rieu
    E. V. Rieu
    Emile Victor Rieu CBE was a classicist, publisher and poet, best known for his lucid translations of Homer, as editor of Penguin Classics, and for a modern translation of the four Gospels which evolved from his role as editor of a projected Penguin translation of the Bible...

    , 1945, prose (later revised by D.C.H. Rieu for increased literal accuracy)
  • Robert Fitzgerald
    Robert Fitzgerald
    Robert Stuart Fitzgerald was a poet, critic and translator whose renderings of the Greek classics "became standard works for a generation of scholars and students." He was best known as a translator of ancient Greek and Latin...

    , 1963, unrhymed with varied-length lines (ISBN 0-679-72813-9)
  • Richmond Lattimore
    Richmond Lattimore
    Richmond Alexander Lattimore was an American poet and translator known for his translations of the Greek classics, especially his versions of the Iliad and Odyssey, which are generally considered as among the best English translations available.Born to David and Margaret Barnes Lattimore in...

    , 1965, hexameter (ISBN 0-06-093195-7)
  • Albert Cook, 1967 (Norton Critical Edition), poetry, considered very accurate line by line
  • Walter Shewring, 1980 (ISBN 0-19-283375-8), Oxford University Press
    Oxford University Press
    Oxford University Press is the largest university press in the world. It is a department of the University of Oxford and is governed by a group of 15 academics appointed by the Vice-Chancellor known as the Delegates of the Press. They are headed by the Secretary to the Delegates, who serves as...

     (Oxford World's Classics), prose
  • Allen Mandelbaum, 1990
  • Robert Fagles
    Robert Fagles
    Robert Fagles was an American professor, poet, and academic, best known for his many translations of ancient Greek classics, especially his acclaimed translations of the epic poems of Homer...

    , 1996 (ISBN 0-14-026886-3); an unabridged audio recording by Ian McKellen
    Ian McKellen
    Sir Ian Murray McKellen, CH, CBE is an English actor. He has received a Tony Award, two Academy Award nominations, and five Emmy Award nominations. His work has spanned genres from Shakespearean and modern theatre to popular fantasy and science fiction...

     is also available (ISBN 0-14-086430-X).
  • Stanley Lombardo
    Stanley Lombardo
    Stanley F. Lombardo is an American professor of Classics at the University of Kansas. He is best known for his translations of the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Aeneid...

    , Hackett Publishing Company
    Hackett Publishing Company
    Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. is an academic publishing house based in Indianapolis, Indiana. Since beginning operations in 1972, Hackett has concentrated mainly on humanities, especially classical and philosophical texts. Many Hackett titles are used as textbooks, making the company very...

    , 2000 (ISBN 0-87220-484-7). An audio CD recording read by the translator is also available (ISBN 1-930972-06-7).
  • Martin Hammond, 2000, prose
  • Rodney Merrill, 2002, unrhymed dactylic hexameter, accurate line by line, University of Michigan Press
  • Edward McCrorie, 2004 (ISBN 0-8018-8267-2), Johns Hopkins University Press
    Johns Hopkins University Press
    The Johns Hopkins University Press is the publishing division of the Johns Hopkins University. It was founded in 1878 and holds the distinction of being the oldest continuously running university press in the United States. The Press publishes books, journals, and electronic databases...

    .

Themes in the Odyssey



There is a strong theme of homecoming (nostos) in the Odyssey, because Odysseus is on a journey home after the Trojan war has finally ended.

The theme of temptation as a psychological peril is portrayed by the sirens who lure sailors to their deaths by seduction. They represent the ideal audience—they sing about the most glorious moment of your life, thus tempting you to stay the hero or warrior they are portraying you as. Your own weakness makes you vulnerable; your greatest weakness comes from inside you.

Another significant theme is that of disguise, in the case of the gods; they disguise themselves so that they can interact with mortals. Athena in particular assumes many disguises including a shepherd, a girl, Telemachus, and Mentor. Odysseus is also able to disguise his identity, though not physically, by telling Polyphemus his name is ‘Nobody’ so that he will not be identified as the one who blinded the Cyclops. He also disguises himself as a beggar when he returns to Ithaca
Ithaca
Ithaca or Ithaka is an island located in the Ionian Sea, in Greece, with an area of and a little more than three thousand inhabitants. It is also a separate regional unit of the Ionian Islands region, and the only municipality of the regional unit. It lies off the northeast coast of Kefalonia and...

 to protect himself from being killed by the Suitors.

Hospitality (xenia) is also a recurring theme as fundamental as the heroic code in the Odyssey. During that time, beggars or travelers often knocked on a stranger’s door in hopes of procuring a place to stay. There are specific steps for proper hospitality beginning with the feeding of the guest, which is of utmost importance since food is rare at that time and beggars beg for food, not money. Before the food is given, a bath is offered to the stranger, done by a woman or a servant—often different depending on the status of the visitor. After the food is given, the beggar is asked who he is and where he is from and stories are exchanged. Next, they are offered a bed to sleep on and it is understood that that they can stay overnight and at the most another night. When the beggar is leaving, there is an exchange of gifts, if the beggar does not have a gift to give, they will still be given one.

Finally, identity and exile are also themes present in the poem.

External links


  • Odyssey on Perseus Project
    Perseus Project
    The Perseus Project is a digital library project of Tufts University that assembles digital collections of humanities resources. It is hosted by the Department of Classics. It has suffered at times from computer hardware problems, and its resources are occasionally unavailable...

    :
    • Ancient Greek
    • English translation by Samuel Butler
      Samuel Butler (novelist)
      Samuel Butler was an iconoclastic Victorian author who published a variety of works. Two of his most famous pieces are the Utopian satire Erewhon and a semi-autobiographical novel published posthumously, The Way of All Flesh...

    • 1919 English translation
  • Homer's Odyssey: A Commentary by Denton Jaques Snider on Project Gutenberg
    Project Gutenberg
    Project Gutenberg is a volunteer effort to digitize and archive cultural works, to "encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks". Founded in 1971 by Michael S. Hart, it is the oldest digital library. Most of the items in its collection are the full texts of public domain books...

  • BBC audio file. In our time BBC Radio 4
    BBC Radio 4
    BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station, operated and owned by the BBC, that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is currently Gwyneth Williams, and the...

    discussion programme. 45 minutes.
  • The Odyssey in Greek with translation to English