In the Western tradition, education has always been synonymous with classical education. It began with the Greeks and Romans, was preserved and expanded by Christians during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and continued unabated until well into the twentieth century. I have said many times that Latin is not dead:
It is, after all, one of the foundational works of Western literature; Goethe called it and "The Iliad" "the two most important books in the world. I discovered it as a year-old, after my teacher had us trace Flaxman's spear-carrying, helmet-and-negligee-clad Athena on to drawing paper.
Athena was the goddess of wisdom, she told us, and while "wisdom" meant nothing to me at the time, I was impressed that the goddess had popped straight out of Zeus's head, in a reversed form of the virgin birth that I had first heard about the Christmas before.
One-eyed man-eating ogres, self-navigating ships, ghosts sipping blood at the entrance to the underworld, shipwrecks, nymphs, princesses, witches, disguises, recognitions, and, to top it all off, a wholesale slaughter of bad guys at the end!
What could be more exciting? Reading "The Odyssey," we enter a world infused by the imagination. Everything becomes fresh and new; familiar objects light up with an inner radiance, as if we were seeing the sky or smelling the grass for the first time.
And we are always carried along by the steady yet constantly varying rhythms of the meter, which serves as a counterpoint to even the most horrific events, so that everything we read is lifted up into the realm of the beautiful.
No detail is too small to escape the poet's attentive gaze, no dream image too fantastic to be made humanly accessible. The six-headed, razor-toothed, tentacled monster Scylla, for example, might easily have seemed cartoonish in the hands of a lesser poet, but she is presented to us so clearly, and her murderous attack described with such elegant precision, that she bursts into existence, as appalling as we could wish: I looked up and saw their arms and legs thrashing above me, and they shouted to me and called out my name for the last time.
And as a fisherman stands on a jutting rock and casts the bait with his rod, and the bronze hook sinks into the water, sheathed in an ox-horn tube, and he catches a fish and reels it in quickly and flings it, writhing, on to the shore: They screamed and kept stretching their hands out towards me in their hideous final agony.
That was the most sickening thing I ever saw on my travels. It's a passage that shocked the sniffy classicists of later ages, who thought that doing laundry was beneath the dignity of a princess.
They came at last to the banks of a beautiful stream, where the washing basins were always filled with clear water welling up through them, to clean the dirtiest clothes. Here they unyoked the mules from the wagon and sent them along the stream to graze on the rich, sweet clover, then lifted the clothes from the wagon and carried them down into the basins, and each girl began to tread them, making a game to see who could finish first.
And when they had washed off the dirt and the clothes were spotless, they spread them neatly along the shore, where the sea lapped at the land and washed all the pebbles clean.
After a swim, they rubbed themselves with the oil and had their lunch on the bank of the eddying river and waited there for the clothing to dry in the sun.
You can find passages like these on almost every page of "The Odyssey. The goddess Calypso even promises Odysseus eternal life, if only he will stay with her on her idyllic island and submit to a life of constant sex and unalloyed sensual pleasure.
But he refuses her offer. He longs for his home and his wife more than he cares about immortality. This is not a case of nostalgia, which is a longing for a past that can never be and perhaps never has been, and therefore necessarily ends in disappointment.
He is longing not for a past but for a future, in a place that is beloved beyond all others on earth or in heaven. Penelope, his wife, was 20 when he sailed for Troy; she is 40 now, and whether or not she has kept her physical beauty is beside the point.
She is a woman, not a goddess, but she is the one he loves.Included with the Ancient History and Literature High School Package. Families with more than one 9thth grader may want to purchase additional copies of this book.
Before reading Homer's The Odyssey, students should be introduced to the concepts of epic poetry and epic heroes, as well as to the author and his preceding work, The Iliad.
An epic poem is a . Homer’s epics usually appear first in anthologies used for the general literature courses required of most college and high school students throughout the country. His influence extends beyond the confines of English and classics departments into seminars offered in comparative literature, history, philosophy, and the social sciences.
The Odyssey Summary The Odyssey Books Quiz The Odyssey Books Quiz The Odyssey Books Quiz The Odyssey Books Quiz The Odyssey Books Quiz The Odyssey Books Quiz The Odyssey Books Quiz The Odyssey Books Quiz The Odyssey Books Quiz The Odyssey Quotes The Odyssey Important Characters.
World Literature study guide (English 5 in the Excellence in Literature curriculum) Amazon affiliate link to the recommended translation will open in a new tab. E The Odyssey by Homer. The Iliad and Odyssey are the beginnings of Western literature.
The story of that war and its aftermath continues in the Aeneid, which our students read in the eighth Grade. Written by the great Roman poet Virgil, and modeled on the Iliad and the Odyssey, the Aeneid tells the story of Aeneas, who was destined to escape from the burning city of Troy and found a new city, Rome.