Epic Hero Cycle
Greek Values Chart

Odyssey Background Notes - Trojan War Origin
  • Important Wedding
  • Eris, goddess of dischord is not invited - because she creates problems.
  • Guests standing around - Eris throws to the crowd a beautiful, golden apple addressed "To The Most Beautiful Wedding Guest"
  • Three goddesses (Hera - Zeus' wife; Aphrodite - goddess of love and beauty; Athena - goddess of wisdom) claim the apple
  • A fight ensues and they ask Zeus to decide who is most beautiful
  • Zeus doesn't want to anger ANY of the goddesses, so he decides to select some poor schmuck - a shepherd - to decide.
  • That shepherd's name is Paris.
  • All goddesses bribed Paris - Hera with power, Athena with wisdom, and Aphrodite with the love of the most beautiful woman in the world.
  • Secret detail about Paris: Before he was born a prince
  • his mother foresaw the Paris would cause the downfall of Troy. So she sent him off to live with shepherds.
  • Paris selects Aphrodite, so he's supposed to be rewarded with the most beautiful woman in the world.
  • Little problem: Helen, MBWITW, is already married to King Menelaus of Sparta. She is Helen, the half-mortal daughter of Zeus.
  • Aph. sends Paris to visit Helen and King Menelaus. King welcomes Paris with open arms - follows the Greek value of hospitality to strangers.
  • While Paris visiting, King M. called off to battle. He asked Paris to watch his wife.....
  • While King gone, Paris grabbed Helen and took off toward Troy.
  • King returned, outraged......grabbed all his allies and "1000 ships" and took off to attack Troy.
  • That's why Helen is considered "the face that launched 1000 ships."
  • Trojan War Map
The Trojan War - Told in the epic poem The Iliad. (leave room - we'll add to this list)
Agamemnom (Menelaus' brother)
Hera and Athena (bear grudge against Paris for choosing Aph.)

Troy's side
Aphrodite helped to follow through with her promise to Paris

Strategies for Reading An Epic
  • Reread sections you don't understand
  • Watch for Epic Similes
  • Read not to the end of the poetic line, but from punctuation to puncuation mark.
  • Paraphrase - restate what you read - put it in your own words.
Background on Homer
Background on Odyssey
-Sparta attacked Troy because Paris took Helen there. There was a seige that lasted 10 years, until Sparta pretended to leave and leave a gift of a giant wooden horse. Trojan
  • Notes on The Hero's Journey (Rough Class Discussion Notes)
  • The Departure
1. The Call to Adventure
- Prior to Odyssey – Odysseus leaving for war.
- Within Odyssey itself, it’s O’s departure for home.
2. Refusal of the Call – arguably, O’s time with Circe and Calypso in their halls and smooth caves showed a reluctance to go home. Also apparent in his willingness to embrace adventure (i.e. The Cyclops). He's not all that anxious to get home.
3. Supernatural Aid
– Athena, Calypso – nymph, Circe – witch, Zeus.
4. Crossing of the First Threshold – Lotus Eaters – his first adventure.
5. Belly of the Whale – When trapped by the Cyclops, or when facing Scylla and Charybdis, or when O is the sole survivor and his ships are destroyed.

B. Initiation
1. The Road of Trials
· His entire journey home from war
a. Circe’s smooth caves
b. Sirens
c. Cyclops
d. Helio’s Island
e. Lotus Eaters
f. Scylla and Charybdis
g. The Land of the Dead
All his responsibility to his men – it’s not just him. Also, his battle to regain his wife's trust and his kingdom. Fighting off the suitors.

2. The Meeting with the Goddess - the best example is when Odysseus enters his house as a beggar and sees Penelope for the first time.
a. Athena many times
b. Circe (enchantress)
c. Calypso – nymph -

3. Woman as Temptress
a. Circe
b. Calypso
c. Sirens
d. Lotus flower (creative connection)
e. Cattle – type of drug/ temptation

4. Atonement (making up for a sin) with the Father
a. Suitors (not traditional choice, but they do have power in his life) – confront and defeat them.
b. Poseidon – sacrificed his men
c. Helios – sacrifice to Helios for his men having eaten the cattle.
d. Zeus – when he gets home he sacrifices to him.

5. Apotheosis – to make someone Godlike or to become god-like. – Ending scene when Odysseus takes his throne. Reclaims his kingdom, but he’s better, stronger, wiser.
6. The Ultimate Boon – He takes his throne – he had sought his wife and home – he reaches his ultimate goal.

C. Return
1. Refusal of the Return – Many times that O. showed a reluctance to go home – he embraced adventure and fighting and smooth caves.
2. The Magic Flight – arguably, the “boon” is O’s wife and throne and men. And, he receives magical help from Athena in saving them.
3. Rescue from Without – Athena, Zeus, his men, and his son and Penelope.
4. The Crossing of the Return Threshold
- He’s changed from young to old and back again. He becomes king again…you have to ask if he truly brings back wisdom – he certainly doesn’t forgive and forget; he slaughters.
5. Master of the Two Worlds – two worlds were his home and his journey – when he regains the throne and Penelope’s trust, he becomes master of both.
You could also argue the two worlds were the god world and the human world. He becomes master when he appeases the gods and is able to return home safely.
5. Freedom to Live – when Odysseus sinks into Penelope’s arms “like a spent swimmer.”

THE EPIC HERO - The hero's JourneyEpic - long, narrative poem that tells the adventures of Gods or heroes.
Epic hero - is a character who is "larger than life" -accomplishes extraordinary feats through great strength and intelligence, He often has a tragic flaw. He is the main character in an epic, and his character traits mirror what's important to the society in which the epic takes place. He is often a character from ancient history or legend.
Emory University Odyssey Background