The Odyssey Introduction
by Homer

The Odyssey book cover
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So you’re going to teach Homer's Odyssey. Whether it’s your first or hundredth time, this classic text has been a mainstay of English classrooms for generations. While it has its challenges, teaching this text to your class will be rewarding for you and your students. It will give them unique insight into heroism, adventure, the role of the veteran in society, and the impact of individual free will in an uncontrollable universe. This guide highlights the text's most salient aspects to keep in mind before you begin teaching.

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Facts at a Glance

  • Publication Date: 750 BCE 
  • Recommended Grade Level: 9 and up 
  • Approximate Word Count: 117, 600 (in the 1996 English translation by Robert Fagles) 
  • Author: Homer 
  • Country of Origin: Greece 
  • Genre: Epic Poetry 
  • Literary Period: Classical 
  • Conflict: Person vs. Person, Person vs. Self, Person vs. Society, Person vs. Supernatural 
  • Narration: Third-Person Omniscient 
  • Setting: The Mediterranean Sea, 1250 BCE 
  • Dominant Literary Devices: Epic Poetry, Epithets, Refrains, Dactylic Hexameter 
  • Mood: Formal, Adventurous, Fantastical

Texts That Go Well With The Odyssey

The Hero with a Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell, provides a detailed reading of Odysseus and his journey as archetypal of the hero and the heroic quest. Originally published in 1945, Campbell’s theory has been applied to—and in some cases influenced— works of popular culture such as Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and 2001: A Space Odyssey

The Iliad is The Odyssey’s sister epic, narrating an episode of the ancient Greek conquest of Troy. The story centers around a conflict of egos between King Agamemnon and the celebrated Greek warrior Achilles. As the final days of the Trojan War unfold, Achilles confronts his grief, pride, and destiny on the battlefield of Troy. 

Mythology, by Edith Hamilton, is one of the definitive English-language reference works on Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology. First published in 1942, the book traces the origin myths of the Greek tradition, the tales of the classic Greek heroes, the Trojan War, and a sampling of the lesser-known stories. 

The Odyssey , translated by...

(The entire section is 527 words.)