Myth-Folklore Unit: Homer's Odyssey

Overview. The readings for this unit come from Homer's Odyssey, as translated into English by Tony Kline. The selections come from Books 9, 10, 11, and 12 of the poem, focusing on the monsters and other dangers that Odysseus faced on his journey home from the Trojan War. Odysseus began his journey with twelve ships; as Odysseus begins his narration here, he has only one ship left, having lost his other ships and many of his companions along the way. By the end of the story, you will see that Odysseus washes up all alone on the island of Phaeacia, the only one to have survived Polyphemus the Cyclops, Circe the witch, the ghosts of the underworld, the Sirens, and the double peril of Scylla and Charybdis.

Language. This is a modern English prose translation of Homer's epic poem. That means it might pose some difficulties, but not too many, and it also should give you a sense of Homer's distinctive style as poet.

Navigation. You will find the table of contents below, and you can also use this link to see the story posts displayed on two pages total: Homer's Odyssey. Click "Older Posts" at the bottom of that page to see the second page.

Notes. This unit does not have notes on every page yet, so please feel free to ask questions if something is not clear — and your questions will help me write better notes, too! You can ask your question by leaving a comment, just like at any other blog. You can also rate each page with the star ratings checkbox at the bottom of each post. Your feedback and questions are much appreciated!

Connecting Units. The two Homeric epics — The Iliad and The Odyssey — begin the theme of epics that you can explore in other reading units this semester. If you are interested in epic and want to read both Iliad and Odyssey for Weeks 2 and 3, that's great; make sure you read the Iliad first if you want to read both (The Iliad comes first in terms of the order of events). If you want to look at epics in later weeks of this semester, keep an eye out for: Sindbad in Week 4 (not an epic, but it was influenced by The Odyssey), The Ramayana in Week 5, The Monkey King in Week 6, Hiawatha in Week 9, Beowulf in Week 11, The Faerie Queene in Week 12, Dante's Inferno in Week 13, and The Kalevala in Week 14.

Read More. In this unit, you read only a small part of Homer's Odyssey. If you want to read Tony Kline's complete translation of this epic, you can find it online at his website: Homer's Odyssey.

Additional Resources. Wikipedia has good background information about the Homeric epics in general, and about The Odyssey in particular. For learning more about the Greek gods and goddess, is an excellent resource.

  1. The Land of the Cyclopes
  2. Prisoners of the Cyclops
  3. The Cyclops Defeated
  4. Escape from the Cyclops
  5. The Curse of Polyphemus
  6. Circe's Magic
  7. The Moly Defeats Circe
  8. On Circe's Island
  9. The Death of Elpenor
  1. Ghosts of Erebus
  2. The Ghosts of Elpenor and Teiresias
  3. The Spirit of Anticleia
  4. The Ghosts of Famous Women
  5. The Ghost of Agamemnon
  6. The Spirit of Achilles
  7. The Ghost of Ajax
  8. The Sirens, Scylla, and Charybdis

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