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Week 7 - Odyssey Books 5-12

Course Code
Timothy Perry

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Epic feb 22, 2010
The Odyssey, 5 – 12
In-Class Essay:
questions posted on Blackboard
monday march 8th everything we have done so far, up to next week!!!
1 hr → 5 topics, 3 will be on test and pick ONE to write (prepare 3 to make sure its on test)
proper essay structure → intro, conclusion, paragraphs etc
questions are two part
1- Consider the myth of Prometheus as told by Hesiod in the Theogony and W&D. Comment on the use
that Hesiod makes of this myth in the two poems and the significance of the simliarities and differences
between the two versions.
differences/similarities in content → pandora, theft of fire, sacrifice in Theo but not W&D
(why?), jar of evils emphaisesed in W&D and not mentioned in Theo (why?)
don't simply summarize → just enough to create context
theo = rise of zeus, rule, obstacles overcome, prometheus is one obstacle
W&D = misery of human condition etc, jar is pertinent
justice theme of both poems → theft of fire
2- How do the divine characters in the Iliad and the Odyssey resemble the human characters? How are
they different? What is the significance of these similarities and differences?
anthropomorphic nature of the gods
may compare with Hesiod → sometimes anthropomorphic but sometimes just representations
like earth, sky, etc
large family of gods → parallel to humans (marriage, etc)
zeus as king
more frivolous actions, no reprecussions for actions (hera and zeus, ares and aphrodite) →
gods do get some punishment but not lasting
relationship between gods & fate vs humans & fate (Iliad especially)
3- The Iliad and the Odyssey were part of an oral tradition. How did this influence the composition of
the poems? Discuss with relation to at least two features of orality found in the poems.
more technical questions, poetics
formulas, type scenes (sacrifice, feasting, arrival, arming, aristeia), similes
ring composition
lists, catalogues
focus on how they aid the poet, don't just list the aids → memorisation, allow originality
4- Consider the actions of EITHER Achilles OR Hector in the Iliad. Do the actions of this hero conform
to the heroic code? How does he succeed and/or fail as a hero?
may contrast with any other hero relevant, but focus on Achilles or Hector
define Heroic Code before explaining whether hero adheres
Achilles → argument with Agamemnon; avenging of Patroclus (go too far? Treatment of Hector

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in final books maybe dubious?)
Hector → meeting with Andromache (wife); facing Achilles in book 22
look at ambiguous nature → benefit community and harm community
5- Consider the depiction of women in the Odyssey. How do female characters serve as obstacles to
Odysseus' nostos? How do they help him to achieve it?
Calypso, Circe, Nausicaa (obstacle but also helps)
Athena, Penelope
The Odyssey
return to Odysseus in book 5
Calypso entreats Odysseus to stay, but he desires to return home
gods sent Hermes to demand Odysseus' release → he cannot escape without divine help
he builds raft to leave, sails several days and is shipwrecked and washes up on unknown shore
Odysseus meets Nausicaa:
bk 6 opens with brief description of the Phaeacians
Athena in disguise appears to Nausicaa, persuades her to do washing by the sea → marriage as
reasoning, she is old enough to be considering marriage
marriage a recurrent theme throughout Odyssey 6
girls and Nausicaa do washing, play ball game, lose ball, Odysseus wakes up
Odysseus emerging from bush with branch to cover nakedness
marked by simile: emphasise as important → pg 172
Odysseus stripped of all signs of civilization → appears wild and savage, simile epmhasies lack
of apparent civilisation; compared to wild animal
wild lion contrasted to homestead
irony: appears savage, but has just been wondering before this if they are violent, savage,
lawless → appears this way himself
complex relationship ebtween savage and civilized
but appearance belies reality
Odysseus soon shows he has not lost wits → lost appearance of civilization but...
he retains his intellect
contrast between what he looks like and reality beneath
Iliad: book 3 → standing still, would think him a great fool, but when he spoke no man alive
could rival Odysseus → difference between appearnce and reality
speaks to Nausicaa → reveals true character
flattery: wondering aloud whether this is a goddess he is adressing
marriage: mentions it twice → assumes that marriage is Nausicaa's greatest desire
women operate in domestic sphere → marriage to good husband is greatest goal
odysseus like athena is influencing Nausicaa thorugh desire for marriage
Odysseus also likely expressing own desires → trying to get home to his wife and
peaceful life
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