“Odyssey” and “Iliad” are thought to be written by the Greek author Homer, and it’s unsure if he had actually written them became there aren’t many details about his life. His existence is questionable, and there is also a question about how many authors wrote “Odyssey”. There are even some who believe that Homer only wrote “Iliad”. If we assume both of the works were written by him then we would come to the conclusion he wrote “Odyssey” when he was older because his style had changed.
The work is divided into 24 books and 12110 hexameters. The plot begins with the downfall of Troy. Odyssey, one of the warriors from the Trojan War, is trying to get back to his country and he is the center of the plot.
In the beginning, we learn about his past and destiny from other character’s stories. We also meet his son who is headed off to find information about his father. When the plot switches entirely to Odyssey, we are already introduced to all important major events. In a few books, he tells everything he saw in the last couple of years. In the second part of the work he finally comes back to his country and comes up with revenge against the suitors so he could get back what’s his.
The plot begins in media res with an invocation of the muse and critical information about some characters. and the plot is being presented. The narrator is the author except of a few books in which Odyssey states his adventures and experiences. The plot is settled in a time where gods walked amongst people and talked to them. Goddess Athena had a major role because she spoke with a lot of characters including Odyssey and Telemachus. Often disguised, she gave out advice and helped them reach their goals. Odyssey was a common man even though his appearance and strength made him look like a god. He had many virtues, some of which were wisdom, high intelligence, resilience and just like every ordinary man he sometimes gave in to temptation and chose the wrong path.
Genre: epic poem
Time: after the Trojan War
Place: Ithaca, islands Odyssey visits in his journey
The plot begins with an invocation of the muse to help Homer write the story of Odyssey, and he starts in media res, mentioning everything takes place 20 years before Odyssey left for the war and ten years after Troy’s downfall when al heroes, except for Odyssey came back. Odyssey spent eight years in captivity by the goddess Calypso who wanted him to marry her. Poseidon didn’t put in a word for him because Odyssey made his son Polyphemus, who was a Cyclops, blind.
Athena went to Ithaca to talk to Telemachus, Odysseys son, during which she took the form of Odyssey’s friend. Telemachus didn’t remember his father because he was born after his father went to war. He was a young man now, and he stopped hoping for his father to come back. On Ithaca, many suitors were at Odyssey’s house hoping to get his wife Penelope’s hand and rule instead of Odyssey. Athena told him his father was alive and that he will come back soon. Athena advised Telemachus to get rid of the suitors and then to go and ask around about his father. Telemachus told all of the suitors about his decision, and when they asked him who the stranger was he talked about he responded it was his father’s acquaintance, but he thought it was one of the gods.
The next day at an assembly Telemachus complained about the suitor throwing feasts in his home instead of going to Penelope’s father and ask for her hand to see which one gets it. Antinous tells him it’s Penelope’s fault because she promised to get married when she finishes the weaving for Laertes. She would weave during the day, and during the night she would destroy everything and then again in the morning she would start all over again to keep the suitors waiting. Telemachus defended his mother and asked the assembly to give him a boat so he could go to Sparta and search for information about his father. Athena pays Telemachus another visit but this time she was in a different disguise, and she encouraged him, before his trip. After leaving him she disguised as him and asked the people around town if they wanted to go on his journey.
Telemachus arrives in Pylos where he asks Nestor about his father. After the war, Nestor and Odyssey went their separate ways, so Nestor wasn’t helpful. Telemachus came to Sparta where Menelaus and Helena celebrated their children’s weddings. They accepted Telemachus and Nestor’s son, and later on they realized Telemachus was Odyssey’s son. They tell stories about Odyssey and amongst them they tell everything about the Trojan horse. Menelaus says he found out Odyssey was held captive on Calypso’s island. In the meantime, the suitors were coming up with a plan to kill Telemachus when he comes back. Penelope heard about it and she was devastated. Athena sent her a vision of her sister in her dreams to make her sure her son was safe and sound.
The gods were discussing and, encouraged by Athena. Zeus decided it was time to bring Odyssey back home. They sent a messenger to Calypso’s island to tell her she needs to let Odyssey go. It was hard for her to make peace with it but she bowed down to Zeus’s wishes. Odyssey built a boat and went on his new adventure. On the eighteenth day of sailing, Poseidon saw him and got so furious that he made a storm just to sink his boat. With Athena’s help, Odyssey came to shore and spent the night in the forest.
The next day he woke up next to a river where he met Nausicaa and the other women who were washing laundry. They gave him some privacy so he could wash himself. Athena made him prettier so that Nausicaa would fall in love with him. Nausicaa was King Alcinous and Queen Arete’s of the Phaeacians daughter. She helped him and invited him to stay in her castle. Nausicaa gave him some instructions on how to get to the castle and how to treat her parents. On his way to the castle, Odyssey saw Athena which wrapped him up in fog so that the citizens wouldn’t recognize nor bother him. She told him to talk to the queen because she will help him get back home and he does so. He told them everything about being held captive by Calypso, getting his boat destroyed by Poseidon, meeting their daughter which helped and gave him clothes and in the end, he told them he was Odyssey. The king and queen decided to help him.
He told them that after leaving Troy, their ship ended up on the shores of Ismaros where his men took the treasure and the women. They were there until the Cicones didn’t call for backup and attacked. Odyssey and his men barely made it out alive, and he lost at least six people from each ship. They’ve wandered the sea for nine days because they got lost due to the storm. In the end, they came to another island where his men got obsessed with eating Lotus, and the only way he could save them from staying there forever was to drag them back to the ship.
They came to the Cyclops’s land where they met Poseidon’s son Polyphemus, and he ate one member of Odyssey’s crew for each meal. They were held captive, and Odyssey decided to get his revenge and run away with the rest of his men. He found his weapon and after getting Polyphemus drunk they stabbed him in the eye and ran away. Polyphemus ended up blind and because of that Poseidon hated Odyssey.
When Odyssey and his crew boarded the ship, he revealed his true identity to Polyphemus who said he knew about the prophecy of him being blinded by Odyssey, but he also says that he is the son of Poseidon and that he will get his revenge. Polyphemus called his father and asked him not to allow Odyssey enter his country.
Afterwards, Odyssey and his crew stayed at Aelous, the ruler of the wind. He gave Odyssey a bag of winds which will help him get back home. His crew thought he received gold and they got so jealous they’ve opened the bag and let all the winds go when they were already close to their country. The winds brought them back to Aeolus who didn’t want to help them anymore. They sailed to the land of Laestrygonians who were cannibals. The cannibals sunk eleven boats and only Odyssey saved himself on the last one.
His ship came to the island of goddess Circe. There the goddess turned half of his crew into swine. Hermes, a messenger, came to tell Odyssey to take a herb called moly to be resistant to Circe’s magic and to save his men. He tricked her and made her transform back his crew. After a year spent on that island, Odyssey asks her to let them go. She sent them to the Land of the Dead where Odyssey had to talk to Tiresias, a prophet. He told him that Poseidon was taking his revenge for making his son blind and that he will get back home as long as he doesn’t touch the herds on God Helios’s island. If he does it then he will come back home to see suitors wasting his fortune away. He will kill them and death will reach him when he gets older.
Odyssey came back to Circe, and she explained to him how to get home and the troubles he will have to face. When he arrives in the island of the mermaids he and his crew had to put wax in their ears in order not to hear the sirens and they had to tie Odyssey up. When they came there Odyssey heard the mermaids singing about his heroic conquests in Troy but he fights them, and they pass their island. Their last stop was Helios’s island. They ate the food they had on the ship, but when were out of it, one of the crew members suggested they slaughter Helios’s head. Odyssey was against it but they still did it while he was sleeping. Zeus punished them with an awful storm, and the only survivor was Odyssey who then ended up on Calypso’s island.
Odyssey ended his story and the next day he was headed home. Poseidon was furious because someone helped his enemy so, with Zeus’s permission, he sunk their ship.
Odyssey encountered Athena again, and she was disguised as a shepherd. She revealed her true identity and told him it would be better if he keeps his a secret because he has to get back at the suitors. Athena let him know that Telemachus was looking for information about him and she helps him disguise himself as a beggar. Odyssey hid in a shepherd Euameus’s house.
Euameus accepted him into his home, but he didn’t recognize him because he thought Odyssey was dead. The disguised Odyssey says he’s still alive and that he will come back. Athena came to Telemachus’s dream and told him to get home but warns him about the suitors setting a trap for him. Athena told him to go to Euameus’s house first. When he got there, he saw the shepherd talking to a stranger. The shepherd went to tell Penelope Telemachus is back and Odyssey, as ordered by Athena, revealed his true identity to Telemachus. The two of them start coming up with a plan to get back at the suitors. Odyssey will come disguised as a beggar so that they would be surprised. Telemachus returned to the castle but he didn’t say anything about Odyssey being back. When Odyssey appeared dressed poorly, the other suitors made fun of him and hit him.
Penelope asks him who he is and tells him all about her husband for which he longed. She also told him all about her little weaving fraud that lasted until her maids told her and now she was forced to pick a new husband. She tested the beggar because he claimed to have known Odyssey and he described him in details. He told her not to lose hope because he was sure Odyssey was coming back.
Penelope orders the maid Eurycleia to wash his feet, and she recognized him by a scar on his leg. She promised to keep his secret. Penelope told Odyssey all about her dream about an eagle killing ducks and then Odyssey tells her that he is the husband and the eagle which came to kill the suitors who were the ducks. Penelope told the lovers that the one who manages to shoot a bow through a dozen ax heads would have her hand in marriage. None of the suitors managed to do it. Odyssey was excellent at it and then in front of everyone he reveals his true identity and kills the suitors with Athena’s help.
Penelope, which wasn’t present at the competition, decided to test if the man who won was her husband. She told him his bed was moved, but he replied that it’s impossible because he made his bed out of a stump and the rest of the house was built around it. Penelope was finally sure her husband was back.
Odyssey visited his father who got old because of his grieving for his son, and he didn’t recognize Odyssey at first. Later Odyssey told him all about his journeys and revenge. The suitors’ parents wanted to revenge their sons’ death, but Athena stops them and establishes peace in Ithaca
Characters: Odyssey, Telemachus, Penelope, Athena, Poseidon, Zeus, Euameus, Eurycleia, Calypso, Polyphemus, Circe, Nestor, Menelaus, Helena, NAusicaa, Alcinous, Arete…
Odyssey is a character of many virtues – loyalty, courage, resilience, confidence, persistence, strength, intelligence… Which help him deal with many situations and dangers on his way back home. His intelligence and resourcefulness helped him outsmart Polyphemus. During his adventures, the only thing that keeps him going is knowing he’s going home. Sometimes he has the need to be powerful, and famous so he was tempted a lot. After individual adventures and events, he starts hiding his identity and becomes more careful. In the beginning, after running away from Cyclops, he couldn’t resist being famous, so he revealed his identity to Polyphemus and because of it Poseidon find out who made his son blind, and he does everything in his power to stop him from coming back home. When he came to Ithaca, he hid his identity to get rid of the suitors. After killing all of them he revealed his identity and finally peace came to Ithaca.
Telemachus was Odyssey’s son, and in the beginning, he didn’t even hope for a father he never saw to come back. When he was twenty Athena talks to him, and he decides to find his father, convinced he was still alive. In the first books we follow up with his search for information about his father. Except wanting to find his father he also wanted to get rid of the suitors around his mother who were spending his father’s fortune. In the end, he met his father, and they came up with a plan to kill the suitors. Telemachus shows some virtues he inherited from his father, such as decisiveness and courage but he still wasn’t as famous in his quests as his father.
Penelope is the symbol of faithfulness because she waited for her husband all those years and even came up with a fraud to keep the suitors away from her. She said she would pick her future husband when she finishes her weaving but she would weave during the day and ruin everything during the night. When the suitors found out about it, they forced her to pick one of them, and she had no choice. In the end, she made a competition which she knew no one would win because her husband was the only one capable of doing what she demanded. When Odyssey came back, she wasn’t sure if it was him, so she asked him about something only the two of them knew and when he answered correctly Penelope was sure her husband was back.
Athena was Zeus’s daughter and the goddess of wisdom and war which helped the main characters get justice, and she helped Odyssey come back home. She would often appear disguised without revealing her identity. In the beginning, she encouraged Telemachus to look for his father, and she helped Odyssey get out of many troubles. Athena also helped Penelope by appearing in her dreams.
Homer lived somewhere between 900 and 700 B.C. He is the oldest known Greek author, and he was from Anatolia.
Besides Iliad and Odyssey, it is thought he had written many other epics about gods and the parody “Batrachomyomachia” or “Battle of Frogs and Mice”.
His job was unknown, and so was the place where he lived. We can only come to a conclusion about his whereabouts from some verses which states seven cities were his home. After his death a whole community dedicated to narrating his verses appeared in Anatolia, and they called themselves Homeridae.
He was described as a blind poet who traveled from one place to another reciting his poems, but not even that information can be perceived as true.