Epic Conventions in the Epic Odyssey

Topics: Odysseus, Odyssey, Trojan War Pages: 8 (2203 words) Published: October 11, 2012


“Tell me, O muse, of that ingenious hero who travelled far and wide”

. The Odyssey recounts the adventures of the Greek hero Odysseus during his ten-year voyage home after the Trojan War. Homer begins with a one-paragraph invocation requesting the Muses to inspire him in the telling of his tale. Such an invocation was a convention in classical literature, notably in epics, from the time of Homer onward. In the invocation, Homer alludes to the heroics of Odysseus during the Trojan War. There, Odysseus fought valiantly and conceived the idea of presenting the Trojans a gift of a great wooden horse—a gift that resulted in triumph for the Greeks and death and destruction for the Trojans. Homer then begins telling the story. 

2. Divided into THREE PARTS


The gods discuss whether or not to conclude Odysseus' punishment and allow him to return home. Zeus argues that Poseidon should be permitted to continue his vengeful punishment of Odysseus whilst Athena argues that he is only mortal and should be permitted his freedom. Zeus castigates mortals in general for their stupidity and failure to acknowledge signs from the gods. Athena counter-argues by describing Odysseus as an exception to this rule. Hermes tries to argue that Odysseus butchered the sacred cattle of the sun god Apollo, but Athena refutes him by claiming that Hermes committed a similar crime himself. She states that the gods should realise that if they fail to help humans they will be forgotten. Zeus concludes that Odysseus should be allowed to find his way back to Ithaca.


He tells his first adventure at the island of the Lotus Eaters. He and twelve of his men landed on shore after ten days lost at sea. They discovered the Lotus Eaters there. Odysseus tells his men not to eat the Lotus plant. If they do, they will never want to return home. The Lotus Eaters meant Odysseus and his men no harm. Odysseus and his crew left and later found themselves in the land of the Cyclopes. Dangerous and reckless giants. Odysseus was overwhelmed with curiosity. He took with him a crew of men and explored the land. In a cave, he found a mountain of a man. Odysseus and his crew went into his cave and found that Polyphemus was gone. They ate some of his cheese and waited. Polyphemus came back and sealed the entrance shut. They were trapped. The men hid but Polyphemus would find them soon. When he did, he ate two men from the crew of Odysseus. When he awoke in the morning, he began to think of ways to defeat the giant. Polyphemus was out with his sheep. Odysseus decided to carve an olive tree into a giant stake and drive it through Polyphemus' giant eye. Odysseus decided to get Polyphemus drunk, once he was "knocked out", he and his men would strike. Odysseus gave Polyphemus the liquor Eunthes' son Maron had given him. Polyphemus drank until he was "fuddled and flushed". Odysseus then told him his name was Nohbdy. After Polyphemus was asleep. Odysseus and his men went in for the kill. With the huge pike of olives, they blinded Polyphemus. The men escaped. The other Cyclopse asked Polyphemus who had blinded him. Polyphemus hollered "Nohbdy, Nohbdy's tricked me, Nohbdy's tricked me!" Odysseus and his men finally escaped and traveled to the islands of Aeolus, god of the winds. He gave Odysseus a bag of winds. Odysseus' men felt that he wasn't sharing the treasures they opend the bag of winds and they blew them back to Aeolus. Later on in a thick forested land, the goddess Circe turned Odysseus' men to pigs. Odysseus forced her to turn them back with a magical herb given to him by messenger god, Hermes. Odysseus was told by Tireseas, a blind prophet that he would eventually return home. He just couldn't injure Helios' cattle. He would also meet the deadly sirens and Scylla who lives above a ship wrecking whirlpool named Charybdis.


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