Background for The Odyssey

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Homer

EPIC POETRY: The Odyssey

Setting (place) · Odysseus’s wanderings cover the Aegean and surrounding seas and eventually end in Ithaca, in northwestern Greece; Telemachus travels from Ithaca to southern Greece.

Protagonist · Odysseus

Major Conflict · Odysseus must return home and vanquish the suitors who threaten his estate; Telemachus must mature and secure his own reputation in Greek society.

Rising Action · The return of Odysseus to Ithaca; the return of Telemachus to Ithaca; their entrance into the palace; the abuse Odysseus receives; the various omens; the hiding of the arms and locking of the palace doors; Penelope’s challenge to the suitors; the stringing of the bow

Climax · The beginning of Book 22, when the beggar in the palace reveals his true identity as Odysseus

Falling Action · Odysseus and Telemachus fight and kill the suitors; they put to death the suitors’ allies among the palace servants.

Themes · The power of cunning over strength; the pitfalls of temptation; the tension between goals and obstacles; the misery of separation; maturation as a journey

The Iliad

Places in The Odyssey