The Odyssey

by: Homer

Suggested Essay Topics

1. What is the role of family in the Odyssey? What values characterize the relationship between fathers and sons? You may wish to compare and contrast some of the father and son pairs in the epic (Odysseus and Telemachus, Laertes and Odysseus, Poseidon and Polyphemus, Nestor and Pisistratus, Eupithes and Antinous). How does Homer portray the idea of continuity between generations?

2. What is the role of women in the Odyssey? Focusing especially on Penelope, Calypso, or Anticleia, discuss how women are portrayed in this epic.

3. Compare and contrast Telemachus’s journey with that of Odysseus. How does the younger man’s experience enable him to grow as a character? What role does Athena play in his success?

4. Looking at Odysseus’s narrative in Books 9 through 12, think about the techniques Homer uses to portray the magical and fantastical aspects of Odysseus’s adventures. How does he handle what we might call special effects? That is, how does he make his monsters fearsome, his goddesses stunning, the dangers frightening, etc.?