The Aeneid and The Odysse

How does Virgil’s Aeneid compare to Homer’s Odyssey? How is it different?

 

Virgil took a minor character from Homer’s Iliad, Aeneas, and crafted his whole epic poem detailing the founding of Rome around him in the Aeneid. Virgil was writing six- or seven-hundred years later, and for the Romans instead of the Greeks, so of course his story is going to be different. One of the most striking differences to me was how he dealt with fate. Fate is a major element of the Iliad, but in the Odyssey, Homer evolves human interaction with this mysterious force and favors fortune over fate. In a way, Virgil turns the clock back and makes fate a major thing again. This time, however, fate is an even bigger deal, as the gods are even subject to its power.

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The Aeneid and The Odysse

The Odyssey

The Odyssey of Homer is the first great piece of narrative literature of the Western World. What is the relevance of The Odyssey and its influence on the rest of world literature, including the epic, pastoral literature, and lyric and dramatic poetry?

Remember to quote from the readings to illustrate and prove your points, followed by MLA citation, both in-text and on a Works Cited page.

 

Homer’s literature, probably being written around 800 BCE, is classified as Preclassical. Well, we call it Homer’s literature, but it is most likely he was not the original author—he is just the one who gets the credit:

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The Odyssey

The Odyssey’s Cyclops, Polyphemus

The Odyssey is full of fabulous creatures. Choose any one of them and indicate how such an image might have come into being. What is its relevance to the story and to the world? What does Odysseus’ interaction with the creature, even if it is a demigod, say about the place of human beings in the world of the ancient Greeks? What powers does the creature have that humans do not possess? How does Odysseus overcome that limitation?

 

The fabulous creature from The Odyssey I would like to examine is one of the earliest, strangest direct encounters Odysseus has with supernatural obstacles he has to use his cunning and guile to overcome: that is the cyclops, Polyphemus.

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The Odyssey’s Cyclops, Polyphemus

The Oresteia Trilogy and the Curse on the House of Atreus

The events of The Oresteia Trilogy are the result of a curse on the House of Atreus. Research the Internet and recount the earlier events resulting from the curse. What do these events have to say about the importance of Fate in ancient Greek civilization? Where have we encountered the idea of Fate before?

Remember to quote from the readings to illustrate and prove your points, followed by MLA citation, both in-text and on a Works Cited page.

 

The curse of the House of Atreus plagued five generations of the family before Orestes finally put an end to it in the final play, The Eumenides, of Aeschylus’s Oresteia Trilogy. The importance of Orestes ending the curse is underscored by the fact that we refer to the trilogy of plays by his name, even though he is not in the first play, which is all about his father, Agamemnon.

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The Oresteia Trilogy and the Curse on the House of Atreus

Aristotle’s Poetics and Sophocles’s Oedipus

Find the short volume of Aristotle’s Poetics on the Internet and read about the importance of the “reversal” and “recognition” in ancient Greek tragedy. And instead of a “tragic flaw,” think about the central characters “error in judgment” (a better translation of Aristotle’s idea). In Sophocles’ Oedipus, identify the central character, his or her error in judgment, and the reversal and recognition he or she endures. Do the reversal and recognition occur at the same time? What advantages accrue from the reversal and recognition occurring at the same time? What are the disadvantages?

Aristotle calls this the perfect tragedy. Do you agree?

 

Aristotle’s “reversal,” called the “Peripeteia” in Greek, is defined as the turning point of a story. In Poetics, Aristotle writes, “Reversal of the Situation is a change by which the action veers round to its opposite, subject always to our rule of probability or necessity. Thus in the Oedipus, the messenger comes to cheer Oedipus and free him from his alarms about his mother, but by revealing who he is, he produces the opposite effect.”

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Aristotle’s Poetics and Sophocles’s Oedipus

Plato, “The Allegory,” and Ideal Forms

Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” is my favorite allegory. I love how it can be interpreted for political means, as Plato himself does later in Book VII of The Republic, or for more metaphysical means, as Plato does with his Theory of Forms. All of my favorite stories (e.g., The Matrix or Ender’s Game) and favorite people (e.g., Alex Jones and David Icke) use the “Allegory of the Cave” to some extent. I like how this week’s Announcement from the professor says “we are all struggling to make our way to enlightenment and truth”. In my opinion, realizing that nothing is as it seems and thinking about these abstract concepts are the key.

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Plato, “The Allegory,” and Ideal Forms

The Odyssean Gods

odysseus

Homer’s portrayal of the gods and goddesses in The Odyssey is completely different from the majority of literatures’ handling of the Greek Gods, and even differs from Homer’s previous work, The Iliad. In most of literature dealing with these Greek Gods, including The Iliad, they are seen as true deities: omniscient and omnipresent, blamed or thanked for every bad or good thing that ever happens. However, with The Odyssey, we have a divergence from this literary theme. While the gods and goddesses are still there in The Odyssey, they are not omnipresent. While they are still all-knowing, they are often seen as more aloof than accepting of blame. In fact, while the gods are acknowledged by all of the characters in The Odyssey, they are more background characters, while the focus is on the human star of the epic, Odysseus. Indeed, most of the gods’ and goddesses’ roles in The Odyssey have them interacting with Odysseus.

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The Odyssean Gods