When did the odyssey take place

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when did the odyssey take place

Odyssey I–XII by Homer

After finishing the Iliad, I wanted to jump right into the Odyssey. I had read it back in college, but that was now 15 (yipe!) years ago and I felt that I would approach it with more appreciation of the background, both in terms of the characters Id become more familiar with in the Iliad and in terms of my increased understanding of ancient Greek culture.

One thing Id forgotten was how long it takes for Odysseus to appear--not until Book 5, about one-sixth of the way into the epic. I suspect I got a lot more out of the first four books this time around, since they deal with Odysseuss son, Telemachus, visiting other Greek heroes looking for information on his dad. He first travels to Pylos to see Nestor. I may have recognized the name Nestor when I was reading in college, but only after reading the Iliad did I get to know this character, certainly one of Homers favorites. He (Nestor) is the oldest of the warriors at Troy, and frequently goes into long speeches about how things were done back in the day. He is both full of sage advice and a windbag, somewhat like Polonius in Shakespeares Hamlet. After Nestor, Telemachus journeys to Sparta to see Menelaus. I was certainly more familiar with his backstory 15 years ago, but this time I thrilled at the tale of his adventures in Egypt. Could these be distant echoes of the early Greek settlers in the Nile delta, who began trading with the Egyptians and learning of their ancient culture?

When we do catch up with Odysseus, he is pining for home while stuck on the Ogygia, the isle of Calypso. Eventually he does make his way back to civilization with the Phaeacians. Much of the rest of this first half of the poem is taken up with Odysseuss narration of his own adventures to the court of the Phaeacians. This is where most of the familiar elements of the Odyssey take place, such as the Cyclops, Circe, and the Scylla and Charybdis. The high point to me is the journey to the land of the dead in Book 11. Here Odysseus meets famous figures from the past, including Teiresias (the prophet in the Oedipus tales), Heracles, and his now-deceased former comrades like Achilles and Ajax. He also meets his mother in a very poignant scene. It gives me goosebumps thinking back on some of these encounters. For instance, when Odysseus praises Achilles for having become a sort of leader in Hadess realm, he responds (paraphrasing), Id rather be a lowly thrall on earth than a king among the dead. The concept of these scenes is so good, and the execution is perfect. They fully justify the modern use of the term epic.

A word about this edition. W.B. Stanfords notes and commentary are excellent. He gives exactly the sort of information I am curious about. For instance, he might note Sanskrit or Old Irish cognates of rare words, or summarize what is known about (e.g.) ancient Greek houses. The notes in my edition of the Iliad were sufficient, but Stanfords are so much better.

On to the second half of the poem!
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Published 12.09.2019

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The Odyssey Study Guide

Homer 's Odyssey is an epic poem written in the 8th century BCE which describes the long voyage home of the Greek hero Odysseus. The mythical king sails back to Ithaca with his men after the Trojan War but is beset by all kinds of delays and misadventures where he battles monsters and storms but also resists eventually the advances of beautiful women in the knowledge that, all the while, his faithful wife Penelope is awaiting him. For the Greeks, the story occurred sometime in the 13th century BCE during the Bronze Age , in a heroic golden era much better than today's sorry state of affairs. The reader is in equal measures thrilled and exasperated, just like Odysseus himself, with every new setback and wills the hero to finally make it home. The Odyssey is the first, and for many, still the best page-turner ever written.

It is widely recognized as one of the great stories of all time, and has been a strong influence on later European, especially Renaissance, literature. The poem focuses on the Greek hero Odysseus or Ulysses , as he was known in Roman myths and his long journey home to Ithaca following the fall of Troy. His adventure-filled ten year journey took him through the Ionian Islands and the Peloponnese and as far away as Egypt and North Africa and the western Mediteranean, as the displeased sea-god Poseidon prevented him from reaching his home. They receive him sumptuously and recount the ending of the Trojan War, including the story of the wooden horse. Menelaus tells Telemachus that he has heard that Odysseus is being held captive by the nymph Calypso. He is found by the young Nausicaa and her handmaidens and is made welcome by King Alcinous and Queen Arete of the Phaeacians, and begins to tell the amazing story of his return from Troy. Despite the help of Aeolus, King of the Winds, Odysseus and his crew were blown off course again just as home was almost in sight.

The Iliad and Odyssey: Historical Background. See our timeline.
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Definition

Odyssey , epic poem in 24 books traditionally attributed to the ancient Greek poet Homer. The poem is the story of Odysseus , king of Ithaca , who wanders for 10 years although the action of the poem covers only the final six weeks trying to get home after the Trojan War. On his return, he is recognized only by his faithful dog and a nurse. With the help of his son, Telemachus , Odysseus destroys the insistent suitors of his faithful wife, Penelope , and several of her maids who had fraternized with the suitors and reestablishes himself in his kingdom. The Odyssey does not follow a linear chronology.

I enjoyed meeting you all today and hope you look forward to getting started on the Odyssey! Below is some background information that should be especially useful to those of you who have never read the poem, but will hopefully also contain some news to those who have. The comment function has been enabled, so if you have questions or concerns, type away! Although the Odyssey is a self-contained epic poem, it is also part of a larger tapestry of stories that in ancient times would have been familiar even to small children. The subject of these stories is the Trojan War, a mythical conflict that took place in an age of legends. The Greeks firmly believed that in former times, men had been far more powerful than they are today, and that gods had mingled amongst mortals, choosing their favorites and guiding their destinies.

It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad , the other Homeric epic. The Odyssey is fundamental to the modern Western canon ; it is the second-oldest extant work of Western literature, while the Iliad is the oldest. Scholars believe the Odyssey was composed near the end of the 8th century BC, somewhere in Ionia , the Greek coastal region of Anatolia. The poem mainly focuses on the Greek hero Odysseus known as Ulysses in Roman myths , king of Ithaca , and his journey home after the fall of Troy. It takes Odysseus ten years to reach Ithaca after the ten-year Trojan War. The Odyssey continues to be read in the Homeric Greek and translated into modern languages around the world. The Odyssey was written in a poetic dialect of Greek—a literary amalgam of Aeolic Greek , Ionic Greek , and other Ancient Greek dialects —and comprises 12, lines of dactylic hexameter.

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