In our last class, we covered a lot of the Odyssey's important themes, but were able to go into detail (that is, looking at particular passages in the text and picking them apart) about only a few of them. Keep the themes we discussed in mind, as you go on reading and analyzing the Odyssey; we will be returning to them in future discussions.
Some of the things we discussed were:
--the insistence on homecoming, which appears five times on the first page. Homecoming is the chief theme, the motivation, the "Holy Grail," as it were, of the Odyssey. (You can compare Dorothy's mantra in The Wizard of Oz: "There's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's...." Incidentally, The W. of Oz is only one latter-day "Odyssey" that has enjoyed huge popularity; Alice in Wonderland is another, as is the recent Coen Brothers film, O Brother, Where Art Thou?. Can you think of others?)
--the homecoming theme itself branches out into three "sub-themes":
--each of these three themes also breaks down into sub-themes:
Other things to consider:
--Be sure to look closely at all the scenes where Odysseus must introduce himself to people who either do not know or do not recognise him. We will look at some of these in class (definitely his approach to Nausikaa in Book 6!) and try to come with a theory about them as a group of scenes.
--What other "type-scenes" do you notice in the epic?
--What do you make of Odysseus's tale of his own adventures, Books 9-12? Can you make any generalisation about his adventures (in particular, about the personages "whose cities he saw, whose mind he learned of" [I:3])? What purpose do they serve within the overarching themes of homecoming and identity?
--Track the female figures who seem to preside over each stage in Odysseus's
quest for home. What observations can you offer about them? Why are
they female? What values or dangers do they represent? What does Odysseus
learn from each? (David commented on this in the first Odyssey
discussion, but most of you probably didn't see it; click here
to go back to it, then visit the
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