Homer's Odyssey

Humanities Seminars Course

Homer's Odyssey

Professor Bella Vivante Department of Classics
Past Course
TUESDAYS 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. January 24 - April 4, 2017. No class on March 14.
Dorothy Rubel Room



In this course we’ll explore Homer’s brilliant storytelling in The Odyssey: his tales of Odysseus’s struggles to return home after the Trojan War. While the poem highlights the hero’s fantastic adventures, the underlying meanings reflect profound social concerns: female and male identities, and their respective realms and relationships; revisiting The Iliad’s military-centered notions of heroism from social-oriented perspectives; the roles of gods; storytelling traditions, and more. The class looks at how these diverse tales interweave to create Odysseus’s story, his journey, and the challenges he must face to become the worthy husband, father, son, and man of society praised by the poem. Appreciating ancient Greek views on these perennially important themes provides valuable insights into our own ideas about these complex social issues, and why this engaging ancient poem continues to influence our contemporary thinking and creativity





Required Reading: 

Homer. The Odyssey. Trans. Charles Stein. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 2008. ISBN-13: 978-1556437281.

BELLA VIVANTE is Professor Emerita in the Department of Classics. She has often taught ancient Greek poetry, drama, and especially Homer’s epic poems. Her scholarly works reveal antiquity’s dynamism: Women, Marriage and the Family in Ancient Greece; Daughters of Gaia: Women in the Ancient Mediterranean; and translation of Euripides’s Helen in Women on the Edge: Four Plays by Euripides.



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