The Spicy Lotus

August 30, 2007

Odyssey, Homer

Filed under: Classic,Greek,Poetry — pha9 @ 4:15 am

The Odyssey (Greek Οδύσσεια (Odússeia) ) is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to the Ionian poet Homer. The poem is commonly dated circa 800 to circa 600 BC. The poem is, in part, a sequel to Homer’s Iliad and mainly centers on the Greek hero Odysseus (or Ulysses in Latin, which is what the Romans called him after they were told of his journeys) and his long journey home to Ithaca, following the fall of Troy.

It takes Odysseus eleven years to reach Ithaca after the nine-year Trojan War.[1] During this absence, his son Telemachus and wife Penelope must deal with a group of unruly suitors who have moved into Odysseus’ home to compete for Penelope’s hand in marriage, since most have assumed that Odysseus has died.

The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon and continues to be read in Homeric Greek and translations into modern languages around the world. The original poem was composed in an oral tradition by an aoidos perhaps a rhapsode. 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. Among the most impressive elements of the text are its strikingly modern non-linear plot, and the fact that events are shown to depend as much on the choices made by women and serfs as on the actions of fighting men. In the English language as well as many others, the word odyssey has come to refer to an epic voyage.

Online version of the Odyssey.

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