The Odyssey: Discussion
1. Discuss the similarities between the journey of Odysseus and events that have occurred in your own life. Think about the different choices Odysseus is required to make during his journey.
2. Discuss the women in Homers work. What role do women play in the Odyssey, and how do you think they represent the women of ancient Greece?
3. Explain how the struggles of Odysseus to reach Ithaca are a contest between Poseidon and Athena as well.
4. Select an event from popular culture in which a hero or heroine is placed in a struggle. Examples from movies include Shane, Schindlers List, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Saving Private Ryan, Patch Adams, and Alien. Describe how the director or writer makes you feel toward the hero or heroine and his or her opponents. Compare and contrast this to the characters in the Odyssey.
5. The ancient Greeks truly believed in caring for strangers. Traditional voices in our culture have attempted to continue that tradition by advising all to care for strangers in need and teaching that such assistance is particularly pleasing to God. The media is quick to praise good Samaritans, and civic groups still award medals to humanitarians. But what forces in our time threaten to extinguish this tradition of kindness to and care for strangers? What can we do to care for strangers in need?
6. Revenge as a means of obtaining justice was more acceptable in Homers society than in our modern society, which has a formidable criminal justice system. Even so, Homers idea of revenge bears qualification. Define the nature of revenge in the Odyssey that suggests under what conditions it is an acceptable means of justice.
* Heroes: Why do societies
create heroes? What values do we expect our heroes to represent? What values
did the Greeks expect their heroes to represent? How does the idea of the
"tragic flaw" change the way we look at our heroes? Do we look
for tragic flaws today?
* Journeys: Almost all societies contain myths/stories of "The Journey." Why? What is the attraction we have to journeys? What are some of the American Journeys? What lessons, what themes, what values do we see played out in the stories of journeys? (Specific to 'The Odyssey: What was the difference between Odysseus' journey and Telemachus' journey?)
* Character: Whose story is this? Who is the main character, Odysseus or Telemachus? (I love this idea, because we got around the idea of which character changed over the course of the story. Is Odysseus' story really just a vehicle for showing Telemachus' coming of age?) There is so much potential for debate here. We spent a day on it, complete with a homework writing assignment, but next year, I will probably spend much more time with it.
* Gender Roles: What are the gender roles of the characters? Looking at Circe, Calypso, Nausikaa, Penelope, what are the different roles women seem to play in Greek society? What are the roles of men, especially if we are to look at the sympathetic characters of Odysseus and Telemachus?
Do you think that the
days of Odysseus as a hero are over or will they continue on Ithaca? .
How does his head help him in difficult situations?.
How are the suitors treating his memory?.
Is there anyone else in this book who could be considered a hero?.
What about Penelope or Telemachus?.
Does being a hero automatically mean that one is a good leader?
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