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of the siege of Troy, and the Odyssey, the tale of Ulysses's wanderings. The place of his birth is doubtful, probably a Greek colony on the coast of Asia inor, and his date, once put as far back as !"## $%, from the style of the poems attributed to him is now thought to be much later. Arguments ha&e long raged o&er whether his works are in fact by the same hand, or ha&e their origins in the lays of 'omer and his followers ('omeridae), and there seems little doubt that the works were originally based on current ballads which were much modified and e*tended. Of the true 'omer, nothing is positi&ely known. The so+called 'omeric hymns are certainly of a later age.
Context (Odyssey and Iliad) ,early three thousand years after they were composed, the Iliad and the Odyssey remain two of the most celebrated and widely read stories e&er told, yet ne*t to nothing is known about their author. 'e was certainly an accomplished Greek bard, and he probably li&ed in the late eighth and early se&enth centuries b.c.e. Authorship is traditionally ascribed to a blind poet named 'omer, and it is under this name that the works are still published. Greeks of the third and second centuries b.c.e., howe&er, already -uestioned whether 'omer e*isted and whether the two epics were e&en written by a single indi&idual. ost modern scholars belie&e that e&en if a single person wrote the epics, his work owed a tremendous debt to a long tradition of unwritten, oral poetry. .tories of a glorious e*pedition to the /ast and of its leaders0 fateful 1ourneys home had been circulating in Greece for hundreds of years before the Iliad and Odyssey were composed. %asual storytellers and semiprofessional minstrels passed these stories down through generations, with each artist de&eloping and polishing the story as he told it. According to this theory, one poet, multiple poets working in collaboration, or perhaps e&en a series of poets handing down their work in succession finally turned these stories into written works, again with each adding his own touch and e*panding or contracting certain episodes in the o&erall narrati&e to fit his taste. Although historical, archaeological, and linguistic e&idence suggests that the epics were composed between 23# and 43# b.c.e., they are set in ycenaean Greece in about the twelfth century b.c.e., during the $ron5e Age. This earlier period, the Greeks belie&ed, was a more glorious and sublime age, when gods still fre-uented the earth and heroic, godlike mortals with superhuman attributes populated Greece. $ecause the two epics stri&e to e&oke this pristine age, they are written in a high style and generally depict life as it was belie&ed to ha&e been led in the great kingdoms of the $ron5e Age. The Greeks are often referred to as 6Achaeans,7 the name of a large tribe occupying Greece during the $ron5e Age.
ar. 'e en1oys life. 'omer0s epics. After the Tro1an . moreo&er. The Odyssey takes the fall of the city of Troy as its starting point and crafts a new epic around the struggle of one of those Greek warriors. . which was spoken on the Aegean islands and in the coastal settlements of Asia inor. The Odyssey . . It tells the story of his nostos. the Odyssey often strikes readers as comic or surreal at times.e.c. Greece. The feudal social structure apparent in the background of the Odyssey seems more akin to 'omer0s Greece than to Odysseus0s. suggesting that 'omer didn0t simply fall back on his nati&e tongue but rather suited his poems to the dialect that would best complement his ideas. The Iliad tells the story of the Greek struggle to rescue 'elen. the poet chose the Ionic dialect because he felt it to be more appropriate for the high style and grand scope of his work. date of composition. 9ike the Iliad.$ut 'omer0s reconstruction often yields to the realities of eighth+ and se&enth+century b. and e&en tricky and is able to in&ent lies easily.o they made Odysseus0 1ourney home as hard as possible.lightly later Greek literature suggests that poets &aried the dialects of their poems according to the themes that they were treating and might write in dialects that they didn0t actually speak. Of the two epics.Overview / Summary In the Odyssey there were three main characters. or 1ourney home. In 2 . it takes place not on a field of battle but on fantastic islands and foreign lands. any other minor but ob&ious anachronisms8such as references to iron tools and to tribes that had not yet migrated to Greece by the $ron5e Age8betray the poem0s later. use forms from se&eral other dialects. one who wished to pro&ide a companion work to the Iliad but had different interests from those of the earlier epic0s author. e&en while struggling to get home. howe&er. Odysseus is the hero of the epic. . now modern Turkey. 'e is restless. are :anhellenic (encompassing all of Greece) in spirit and. the gods and goddess were mad that his plan helped the Greeks defended the Tro1ans. After the unrelenting tragedy and carnage of the Iliad. and 'omer substitutes the pantheon of deities of his own day for the related but different gods whom ycenaean Greeks worshipped. to northwest Greece during the ten+year period after the Greek &ictory o&er the Tro1ans. from her Tro1an captors. ore likely. Iron Age origins. a Greek -ueen. Others argue that someone else must ha&e composed the Odyssey. probably.ome scholars thus conclude that the poet hailed from somewhere in the eastern Greek world. the Odyssey is the later both in setting and. A tale of wandering. This -uality has led some scholars to conclude that 'omer wrote the Odyssey at a later time of his life. the Odyssey was composed primarily in the Ionic dialect of Ancient Greek. in fact. when he showed less interest in struggles at arms and was more recepti&e to a storyline that focused on the fortunes and misad&entures of a single man. the hero Odysseus. cle&er. 'e is the son of 9aertes and is the king of Ithaca and a &ery respected warrior .
irens. is that we are 3 . when they fell asleep the soldiers hiding inside the horse arose and attacked the people of Troy.irens Odysseus tried to escape his from where he was tied up because the . the Iliad or e&en much of the Old testament. <rom what was said about him when the men first encountered %irce he is &ery cautious and careful. %irce turned Odysseus0 men into pigs. The atmosphere is a cautious one and one in which all the men are worried about their and their captain0s safety. but once she found out that Odysseus wanted to get back home is let them go peacefully.irens0 singing was appealing to him. the enchantress.irens she and she also told him that many bad years come between him and his homeland. :eople think of Odysseus as a man that is cle&er and a great warrior. 9ady %irce is an enchantress. $efore they would led into the forest Odysseus made /urylochus the leader of one of the two groups of si* men. All the men were worried about the . Once Odysseus and %irce became lo&ers the men stayed on her island for se&eral years.the Odyssey.irens the crew untied Odysseus and cleared that wa* from their ears. In The . Odysseus is &ery bra&e. in The 9and of the %yclopes Odysseus makes up a plan that ends with him and his men. They belie&e this because in the Tro1an .hen Odysseus came back with the men and then said he wanted to go back to %irce. /urylochus ended up going with the rest of the men to the home of %irce. that were not eaten by the monster. The Odyssey is set in many places. so they maybe safe from the hailing call of the . Critics One of the first things that strikes me about the Odyssey. /urylochus said that it was Odysseus0 fault that the men on the 9and of the %yclopes died because of his foolishness. The found her in her -uiet house while she was singing in a low tone. and that won the war for the Greeks.ar he had an idea to present a wooden horse to the Tro1ans.hen they had rowed a safe distance from the . 'e leads the men into the forest were they were turned into animals by %irce. The men tied Odysseus up and rowed within hailing distance of the .irens Odysseus fills that ears of the crew with beeswa*. especially in contrast to. Once near the . . escaping and with him being the one that stuck the giant in the eye.irens and Odysseus escaping and trying to go to the . Odysseus called /urylochus his kinsmen but was going to kill him anyways.irens. . say.irens. %irce ad&ised Odysseus on how to get pass the . The Tro1ans brought the horse into their town. . /urylochus is one of Odysseus0 crewmen. The mood that is displayed in this book is one of terror and uneasiness. o&ercomes many superhuman forces and is cle&er.he has turned many of the men that wash up on her island into animals that are under her control. <or instance.
and the second. any of the other works on whose shoulders homer. in which different stories are going in at the same time and we are shifting back and forth between them. or will do in the future. especially to his wife and son.clearly here on the presence of a &ery sophisticated story teller who is manipulating certain con&entions of fiction in remarkable ways.hen I think of the Odyssey.hat0s remarkable about this (and also &ery frustrating) is that such an ob&iously sophisticated narrati&e skill cannot 1ust arise from nothing. This structure. the narrati&e line of the Odyssey lays down two stories initially = the first one focusing on Telemachus and :enelope and e&ents in Ithaca. and make them think twice about something they are doing. . . I after I listened to the audio carefully. not 1ust an artist educated to use con&entions in this way. O&erall. <or it presupposes. reminding me that this story is also about family and about how each principal members of that family plays and important role in the successful reunion and the restoration of a traditional ruling household. built. They can teach &ery &aluable lessons about life and many of the situations people may find themsel&es in today. . there are &ery many themes to be recogni5ed and they should be for many reasons. focusing on the 'ero Odysseus0s ad&entures. I shouldn0t note 1ust how much emphasis the structure gi&es to Odysseus0s family. we ha&e to keep close track of where we are. a work so remarkable that e&en today the Odyssey can ser&e as really useful instruction manual fro writers wishing to study the ways in which plot construction and chronological &ariety can ser&e all sorts of &ital artistic purposes. and yet we ha&e no details whatsoe&er of the tradition out of which it arose. because narrati&e lines come together when the father and son are reunited in $ook ?>I. but also a listener familiar enough with such matters to follow what is going on. in The Odyssey. . In a way. I tend to concentrate much of my focus on Odysseus himself.o we are &ery safe in assuming that the Odyssey could not ha&e been sui generic+produced in a cultural &acuum all of a sudden. It presupposes a tradition of some sort and a listener familiar enough with that tradition to follow narrati&e comple*ities. and certainly most of the really famous incidents from this poem concern the ad&entures of the main hero. 4 . They may impact people in a way that could change their outlook on life. and the two stories march together to their common conclusion. the narrati&e emphasis in the structure puts pressure on me to see in this story more than 1ust the memorable e&ents in the hero0s life.o here we ha&e what is ob&iously the product of a long tradition of story telling. where there is an apparently much simpler narrati&e line which is always dynamically thrusting ahead into new e&ents. <or instance. And yet we ha&e no trace of that tradition. whoe&er he or she say or they were. creates a &ery different effect than the narrati&e style of the Old Testament. which doesn0t begin until $ook >.
manage to bring the body back to their camp. and his presence on the battlefield helps the Achaeans push the Tro1ans away from the ships and back to the city walls. <urious at this insult. 'ector ends up with the armor.e&eral days of fierce conflict ensue. but now the Tro1ans breach the treaty and Aeus comes to their aid. and the Tro1ans break through the Achaean ramparts.hen Achilles disco&ers that 'ector has killed :atroclus. offers an enormous ransom in return for his daughter. The Tro1ans push the Achaeans back. %hryseis and $riseis. Agamemnon consults the prophet %alchas to determine the cause of the plague. toward this end. The Achaeans begin to nurture some hope for the future when a nighttime reconnaissance mission by @iomedes and Odysseus yields information about the Tro1ans0 plans. $ut the counterattack soon falters. but the Achaeans. but Agamemnon refuses to gi&e %hryseis back. %oncerned for his comrades but still too proud to help them himself. the sea+nymph Thetis. @efeat seems imminent. . the Achaeans capture a pair of beautiful maidens. . The Achaeans make no progressB e&en the heroism of the great Achaean warrior @iomedes pro&es fruitless. %hryses. . .Iliad – Overview/Summary . Agamemnon. %hryses then prays to Apollo. 'e &engefully yearns to see the Achaeans destroyed and asks his mother. and Achilles. king of the gods. he reluctantly gi&es her up but then demands $riseis from Achilles as compensation. the Achaeans0 greatest warrior. Achilles returns to his tent in the army camp and refuses to fight in the war any longer. who ser&es as a priest of the god Apollo. %hryseis0s father. but the ne*t day brings disaster. The Tro1an and Achaean sides ha&e declared a cease+fire with each other. the army will be stranded at Troy and almost certainly destroyed. a town allied with Troy. Apollo knocks :atroclus0s armor to the ground. because without the ships. the leader of the Achaean forces. @uring the battle. who sends a plague upon the Achaean camp.e&eral Achaean commanders become wounded. They ad&ance all the way up to the boundary of the Achaean camp and set fire to one of the ships. he fills 5 . claims $riseis. takes %hryseis as his pri5e. After many Achaeans die. Achilles agrees to a plan proposed by .hen he learns that %hryseis is the cause.ine years after the start of the Tro1an . forcing them to take refuge behind the ramparts that protect their ships. wearing his armor.estor that will allow his belo&ed friend :atroclus to take his place in battle. <ighting then breaks out as both sides try to lay claim to the body and armor. and 'ector slays him.ar. thanks to a courageous effort by enelaus and others. to enlist the ser&ices of Aeus. the Greek (6Achaean7) army sacks %hryse. the Achaeans suffer great losses. . including duels between :aris and enelaus and between 'ector and A1a*.ith Aeus supporting the Tro1ans and Achilles refusing to fight. :atroclus is a fine warrior.
'ector refuses to flee inside the city with them. howe&er. Ashamed at the poor ad&ice that he ga&e his comrades. not e*pecting Achilles to re1oin the battle. 9ate twentieth+ century critics ha&e continued to focus on such speciali5ed topics as 'omer's narrati&e techni-ue. the gods agree that 'ector deser&es a proper burial. Although 'omer presents an e*tremely harsh world in which human beings appear destined to suffer as the mere playthings of the gods and fate. citing e&idence that the poem is biased toward Achaean heroes. and re&ersal. he simultaneously con&eys the &alue of human ideals and the 1oy of pursuing heroic e*cellence. Achilles confronts 'ector outside the walls of Troy. has ordered his men to camp outside the walls of Troy. <inally. . Achilles drags 'ector0s body in circles around :atroclus0s funeral bier. :riam tearfully pleads with Achilles to take pity on a father bereft of his son and return 'ector0s body. who is angered that Achilles has caused so many corpses to fall into his streams. /ach day for the ne*t nine days. and finally withholds the glory due to the Tro1ans. Achilles kills 'ector. At last. Achilles chases him around the city0s periphery three times. @eeply mo&ed. Upon Achilles0 arri&al. Achilles then rides out to battle at the head of the Achaean army. use of irony and humor. In a dramatic duel. :eleus. he e&en fights the god of the ri&er ?anthus. critics ha&e tended to cite the comprehensi&e and cohesi&e &ision of life depicted in the Iliad as the poem's central unifying principle. A number of contemporary scholars ha&e e*amined the underlying comple*ities of work's narrati&e structure and thematic framework.trengthened by his rage. highlighting 'omer's use of misdirection. Achilles cuts down e&ery Tro1an he sees. but the goddess Athena finally tricks 'ector into turning around and fighting Achilles.ome interpreters ha&e suggested that 'omer's portrayal of the Tro1ans is not ade-uately balanced with that of the Greeks. O&erall.with such grief and rage that he agrees to reconcile with Agamemnon and re1oin the battle. into the Achaean camp. Achilles finally relents and returns 'ector0s corpse to the Tro1ans. Critics Although most commentators praise the narrati&e impact and brilliant imagery of the Iliad. it flees in terror back behind the city walls. . 'e then lashes the body to the back of his chariot and drags it across the battlefield to the Achaean camp. Thetis goes to ount Olympus and persuades the god 'ephaestus to forge Achilles a new suit of armor. which she presents to him the ne*t morning. 'ector. there remains a great deal of debate regarding the structural and thematic unity of the poem. eanwhile. $oth sides agree to a temporary truce. 'e in&okes the memory of Achilles0 own father. and de&elopment of indi&idual 6 . the triumphant Achaeans celebrate :atroclus0s funeral with a long series of athletic games in his honor. parallelism. and 'ector recei&es a hero0s funeral. $ut when the Tro1an army glimpses Achilles. Aeus sends the god 'ermes to escort Cing :riam. 'ector0s father and the ruler of Troy.
as much by its depiction of tragedy as by its celebration of life. aristeia. with scholars considering his descriptions of heroes as wild beasts. di&ine and human 1ustice. and the role of the citi5en and the state in society.estern literature has remained fresh and intriguing for generation after generation of scholars and readers. as well as his lyric e&ocation of human gentleness. and as much by its harsh descriptions of warfare as by its tender lyric poetry. considering the poet's treatment of the gods in relation to mortals. . It impresses as much by its thematic comple*ity as by its stylistic simplicity. and other elements of the heroic code ha&e also inspired considerable commentary. or probing such minor themes as the guilt of 'elen or :aris. scholars still grapple with his presentation of death.characters. the oldest and in some ways the most formidable work of . The concepts of aidōs. 'omer's rich use of simile continues to elicit interest. care. and nurturing in the brutal conte*t of war.ith the ongoing proliferation of critical attention to the Iliad. 7 . /*ploring 'omer's philosophical beliefs.