The Odyssey

Title: The Odyssey

Author: Homer

Genre: Poetry

Publication Date: 2003

Overview

The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems written by Homer. It is one of the oldest works of literature, composed around 700 BC. As with the Iliad, Homer’s other epic, this is also divided into twenty-four books. The epic follows Odysseus’ ten-year struggle to return home after the Trojan War. His journey lasts ten years, during which time he encounters many perils and battles mythical creatures. In his absence, Odysseus is assumed dead, and his wife Penelope and son Telemachus have to face unruly men who compete for Penelope’s hand in marriage.

The Odyssey was originally composed in Homeric Greek around the 8th or 7th century BCE, and later became part of the Greek literary canon. The epic includes 12,109 lines composed in dactylic hexameter, also called the Homeric hexameter. It opens in medias res, in the middle of the overall story, with prior events described through flashbacks. In antiquity, Homer’s authorship of the poem was not questioned; however, contemporary scholarship assumes that the Iliad and the Odyssey may have been composed by more than one author, if not different authors altogether.

Important themes in the poem include the ideas of nostos (“return”), wandering, xenia (“guest-friendship”), hubris, fate, and freewill. The first English translation of the Odyssey appeared in the 16th century.

The Odyssey Biography

The Odyssey Background

The Odyssey Characters

The Odyssey Summary and Analysis

The Odyssey Themes

The Odyssey Quotes

The Odyssey Discussion Questions

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