The Odyssey by Homer

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Significant Myths and Structure of the Text

Significant Myths

The Trojan War: When the Trojan Prince Paris travels to Sparta, he falls in love with the queen of the island, Helen. The two leave Sparta for Troy, offending Zeus, the god of xenia, or hospitality, and Menelaus as the king of Sparta. Menelaus and his powerful brother, King Agamemnon, lead a fleet of Greek ships to Troy, where they fight for ten years before sacking the prosperous city. During those ten years, Agamemnon has a legendary feud with the Greek fighter and demigod Achilles, the details of which are recounted in Homer’s Iliad

Odysseus Reluctantly Joins the War: Initially, Odysseus avoids joining Menelaus and Agamemnon on their conquest of Troy. Having just become a father, Odysseus wants to stay at home in Ithaca. When the envoy from Agamemnon arrives to recruit him, Odysseus feigns insanity, incorrectly harnessing his plow and sowing salt in his field. When the envoy throws Telemachus, Odysseus’s son in front of the plow, Odysseus changes course, revealing his sanity. As a result, the envoy compels Odysseus to join the conquest of Troy. 

The Trojan Horse: The Trojan War rages for ten years until a clever plan from Odysseus breaks the stalemate between the Greeks and the Trojans. In accordance with his plan, the Greeks break camp so that it appears they have given up their siege and departed. In place of their camp, they leave a large wooden statue of a horse with a group of soldiers hiding inside. Mistaking the statue for a tribute to Poseidon, the...

(The entire section is 505 words.)