The Odyssey e-text contains the full text of The Odyssey by Homer.

The men are bathed by Circe's maids and given a dinner. Circe invites Odysseus to stay with her on her island. The men end up staying for a year in the paradise until they finally remind Odysseus of their mission. Odysseus asks Circe to help them sail home, but she says he must go to Hades, the land of Death, and speak to the blind seer Tiresias. She gives the dejected Odysseus detailed instructions for sailing to Hades and preparing rites to summon Tiresias. Odysseus tells his crew it is time to leave, but the youngest, Elpenor, having drunkenly slept on the roof, falls and kills himself.

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Some of the epithets include "brilliant," "god-like," or "swift-footed" Achilles; Trojans, "breakers of horses"; "glorious" Hector, "Hector of the shining helm"; "resourceful" or "brilliant" Odysseus; "Zeus of the counsels" or "Zeus of the wide brows." These epithets are generally used to fit the meter rather than the mood of the moment. Achilles may be "swift-footed" even while he is sitting and doing nothing; "laughing" might be furious. While the epithets fit the characters and places in general and sometimes fit the moment beautifully, it is important to remember that meter is often the first consideration for these phrases when it comes to specific moments. If the reader attempts to close-read Homer, he must beware of being misled by set phrases chosen to fit the meter. A good example of a potential misread is when Menelaus and Paris prepare to duel over Helen, and the winner will have the faithless Helen as his "beloved" wife. Irony is probably not intended, because "beloved" goes with "wife" (Lattimore 40). Still, at other times the epithets can and do fit the things they describe quite well. While reading, listen for these patterns and set phrases. These epithets and repetitions create a beautiful rhythm that is part of the pleasure of reading Homer.


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One of the key features of Homer's language is the use of ornamental epithets, labels that accompany the names of heroes, gods, or objects. The epithets are made to fill in the line in a way that fits the poetic meter, dactyllic hexameter, easing the job of the poet by giving him a list of ready-made phrases that can be used according to how many syllables are left on the line. The epithets, some have argued, indicate that Greek oral poetry may have included strong elements of improvisation. A poet would have a wide range of set passages, short phrases and whole mini-narratives, to draw from as he improvised an epic on the spot right in front of an audience. Alternately, the epithets might have made a rehearsed epic easier to remember. Many of these epithets were probably handed down to Homer; it is his skill in using and arranging them, rather than sheer inventiveness, that marks him as a great poet. There are also set phrases, such as "and do battle." For a modern reader, Homer can seem extremely repetitive at times, but repetition here is part of his art. A character might say that he is going to go fight and do battle, even though the statement is repetitive, because the set phrase neatly completes the line. Also, there is a sense in Homer that a good passage can and should be repeated almost in its entirety. When Achiles tells Thetis about what Agamemnon has done to him, he repeats whole passages verbatim.


The Odyssey - Homer - Ancient Greece - Classical …

Outside Circe's house lie subdued and spellbound wolves and mountain lions. Inside, Circe sings while weaving on her loom. All the men - except for Eurylokhos, who suspects deceit - are reassured by this gentle behavior and enter. Circe fixes them a feast and adds something to their drinks; once they drink it, they are turned into pigs. She shuts them in a pigsty while Eurylokhos runs back to alert the crew.

Odysseus’s Scar | The Hebrew Bible

Interestingly, Circe is first paired up with another woman in the poem - . She is first shown weaving at her loom, the activity Penelope uses to ward off her suitors. Since Circe is another of the poem's examples of a symbolically castrating woman, and since Penelope has raised some doubts about the sincerity of her fidelity, further parallels are drawn with Penelope emerging as the lesser woman. Penelope, too, has a household of men who have turned her place into a sty, but she is not strong enough to shoo them away as Circe can do.

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Perhaps it is Circe's strength, not to mention her divine beauty, which attracts Odysseus. As with Calypso, he does not seem to have any misgivings about committing an act of infidelity with her. Rather than think guiltily about his wife at home, he instead worries about the well-being of his shipmates.

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The gods return to Olympus and Thetis clasps Zeus' knees‹the position of a supplicant‹and asks that the Trojan win victory after victory as long as her son does not fight. Zeus is anxious because his wife, Hera, queen of the gods, despises the Trojans and will be furious with him. But he agrees. When he returns to his house, where all the gods are assembled, Hera is waiting in anger for him. She knows that he has seen Thetis, and fears the disasters that might be brought down on the Achaeans if Zeus decides to help bring Achilles honor. The two argue bitterly, until Zeus threatens to harm her, and she takes her place quietly. , god of the forge and child of Zeus and Hera, urges his parents not to fight over the fate of mortals. He wants Hera to obey Zeus because he does not wish to see his mother harmed. He serves the gods sweet nectar to drink, beginning with his mother, and the gods feast and listen to song. As night falls, they return to their beds and sleep, Hera by Zeus's side.