The Odyssey



The Iliad and its sequel, the Odyssey, were composed in Greece in the late eighth and early seventh centuries B.C.E., and are generally attributed to a blind poet named Homer. The Iliad details the Trojan War, in which a Greek army attacked the city of Troy in order to rescue the beautiful Helen, who had been kidnapped by the Trojans. The Odyssey describes the arduous ten-year journey home of one of these Greek heroes, Odysseus.

Little is known about the life of Homer, and some scholars believe that the two epic poems attributed to him may have also had other authors. Regardless of whether or not this is true, it is generally believed that the poems were heavily influenced by the Greeks’ long tradition of oral poetry, which had for many centuries passed along grand stories of gods and heroes.

Although Homer’s epic poems were likely written down sometime between 750 and 650 B.C.E., they are set in a much earlier time period. The Odyssey is set in Mycenaean Greece in the twelfth century B.C.E., during an age when the Greeks believed that gods interacted directly with mortals. It is unknown whether Homer’s Trojan War represents a real historical event and, in general, Homer’s epics are approached as written embodiments of Greek folklore. The long, narrative poems are composed in an elevated style, and the central characters are often godlike heroes.

Odysseus, the hero of the Odyssey, is a mortal man with remarkable physical and mental gifts. Although Odysseus possesses many godlike qualities, he struggles with the mortal pitfalls of temptation and has to overcome great adversity in order to return home. The Odyssey revolves around timeless themes of family, relationships, personal growth, vengeance and justice, which is why the epic poem continues to be an object of study and interest to the contemporary reader.

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Essays About The Odyssey