CL106/EN106 Week 5:

 

Homer, Odyssey books 9, 10, 12, 16, 17:

map

note: read summaries of books 8, 11, 13, 14, 15 (scroll down for book summaries)

 

1. Odysseus before Ithake:

a. How does book 9 in particular develop the character of Odysseus? What if anything, do the events in book 10 and 12 add to this picture of Odysseus?

b. In book 9, 10 and 12 we see Odysseus functioning as a leader of his band of men. How is he as a leader?

 

2. The sociology of the Kyklopes:

a. Consider the Kyklopes from a sociological perspective. How does their society compare/contrast with the ideal Greek society as the latter is understood from the rest of the poem.

b. Why does Homer include these sociological details? What do they contribute to the Odyssey as a whole?

 

3. Xenia again:

a. How do the various episodes in books 9, 10 and 12 fit into the theme of xenia ("hospitality") in the Odyssey?

 

4. Books 16 and 17:

a. What does the meeting of Odysseus and Telemakhos tell us about each?

b. Telemakhos, as we see him in the Odyssey, is at the point of transition between being a boy and being a man. How has he already progressed from being one to becoming the other? How is the Telemakhos we see here more of a man than the Telemakhos we saw in book 1? How is he still a boy?

c. What is the comparable transition in Odysseus' life that the hero is now undergoing? What has he been? What is he in the process of becoming?

d. Eumaios is obviously socially out-of-place with most of the other characters in the Odyssey. Why do you think Homer introduces such a socially inferior person? What is the significance of his "social differentness"? How does it affect the reader's/listener's view of Odysseus? of Homeric society as a whole?

e. What in particular is the role of the incident with Melanthios in book 17 in terms of the development of the Odyssey? What of the meeting with Argos?

f. Books 16 and 17 (and 19, which we will read for next class) are, in their way, a prologue to the contest which will result in the defeat and death of the suitors. What do we learn from this prologue? What do these books contribute to the development of the Odyssey as a whole?

 

5. More on the mechanics of the poem:

a. To your mind, what are the three most "visual" episodes of the Odyssey thus far? Why?