English 287: Great Books
Links relating to Homer and The Odyssey
Helpful contexts: maps, timelines, photos
- Mainland Greece & the Pelopponesos
- The Aegean Islands (in the Aegean Sea, bordered by Greece on the West and Asia Minor on the East)
- The Near East and the Aegean Sea in the 13th Century BCE
- Large map of ancient Greece
- Slides of the ruins of Troy
|There is a Study Guide to Homer's Odyssey composed specifically for our course. You will definitely want to consult it. Unlike the ones listed below, it consists of a series of questions designed to prompt you to notice on your own certain important features of the work.|
In addition, there is a variety of useful study guides available on-line. My advice would be to browse among some of these, then pick one and use it to review your first reading of each Book. In subsequent readings, you could use it, or another one, as a preliminary overview. But I would discourage you from doing this with your initial reading.
SparkNotes Guide to The Odyssey offers a plot overview and more detailed summaries of the action in successive books, as well as brief descriptions of characters and deeper analysis of selected main characters, and discussion of some major themes.
BookRags Book Notes to The Odyssey offers detailed summaries of the action in each book.
Pink Monkey Literature Notes on The Odyssey offers summaries and discussions of key literary elements.
Barron's Booknotes on The Odyssey offers summaries and discussion of key literary elements.
Finally, there are many study guides with special features that may be of interest. Here are a couple of places through which you can find your way to these.
Study guides for Homer's Iliad and Odyssey is a set of links compiled by The History Net. Many are fairly rudimentary, but have their uses.
Jorn Barger's Homer's Odyssey Resources on the Web is, among other things, a detailed guide to various commentaries and summaries, arranged by episodes.
On the "Homeric Question"
Who, if anyone, was Homer? When did he live? How did The Iliad and The Odyssey come to be?
John Wright, About Homer. (This handy essay is also available -- curiously, without attribution -- at www.hellenism.net under the title Greek Mythology - Ancient greek myths, Homer. And here is another at www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/)
Also convenient is BookRags Book Notes' biographical entry on Homer.
I. Koulchine's The Homeric Problem Page is a pretty impressive summary done by a 9th-grader as a class project.
More comprehensive discussions
Gregory Nagy, Homeric Questions. This link here is to an abstract of this Harvard scholar's book, ©1966 by the University of Texas Press, which then provides a link to an on-line version of the complete text).
[An excellent treatment of this complex of problems -- not on the web -- is provided by Bernard Knox in the Preface to our edition (the Fagles translation; Penquin). See his sections on "The Odyssey," "The Language of Homer," and "The Odyssey and The Iliad" -- pp. 3-24.]
N.S. Gill, "Homeric Questions: The Great Homer Nodding". Since some of the links on this page seem to be fouled up, I'll provide them here:
Richard Janko's "The Performance of Homeric Epic: Thunder but no Clouds: the Genesis of the Homeric Text"
J.V. Luce, "Homeric Poetry and Its Significance for the Modern World".
Barry B. Powell, "Did Homer Sing at Lefkandi?"
John Porter, "The Iliad as Oral Formulaic Poetry"
Erika Klarreich, Did Homer Have Help? (posted 25.iii.02). Summarizes a new book that, on the basis of statistical evidence about the rhythmic features of the verse of the two epics, concludes that the two were composed by authors (and that The Odyssey may have been assembled from the work of several distinct individuals). Concludes with a comment by scholar skeptical of this view.
On the Trojan War
Homer Home Page is a straightforward summary of some basic background to The Iliad and The Odyssey.
Harry Thurston Peck's article on the Trojan War for the Harper's Dictionary of Classical Antiquities (1898) is on-line at the Purseus Project, with more annotation than you will want to allow yourself to get distracted into exploring much of.
Ian Johnston (Malaspina University College, 1996), "The Legend of the Trojan War" (or at this site).
History of the Trojan War (Stanford University).
Bulfinch's Mythology, The Age of Fable - Chapter 27, Part 1: The Trojan War: a classic summary, with lots of annotation via links.
The Trojan War - A companion with associated images. Click on the picture on the opening page, and you're off and running.
Royalty.nu - The Trojan War - History, Myth and Homer - Schliemann
K. Krist Hurst's "Homeric Questions, Part I: The Discovery of Troy" is a summary of David Traill's 1995 biography Schliemann of Troy: Treasure and Deceit, which takes a debunking view of Schliemann's claims.
On the relation of Homer's world to what we think is "actual history"
More on Ancient Greece, from Washington State University's World Cultures site
Archaeology and Homer
Thematic dimensions of The Odyssey
Homeric Odyssey and the Cultivation of Justice is an online lecture series organized and led by Harvard Professor Gregory Nagy. It is an exploration of the Homeric Odyssey, with a particular emphasis on the heroic search for the goal of social justice.
The Perseus Digital Library (the central administration of which resides at Tufts University) is a monumental project with a vast Classics Section.
Jack Lynch's page on Literary Resources -- Classical and Biblical is a great place to start. Some of the items on the page you are reading were pointed to by it.
The Homer Directory at the AllLearn is a useful starting place. (AllLearn is short for Alliance for Lifelong Learning, a project of Oxford, Stanford, and Yale Universities.
Suggestions are welcome. Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Contents copyright © 2005 by Lyman A. Baker.
Permission is granted for non-commercial educational use; all other rights reserved.
This page last updated 08 February 2005.