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The Odyssey is in many ways a relief to the catalogue of violent deaths in the Iliad. It too contains many images of violence but it is often of a different type. There are certainly moments of extreme violence as, for example, Circe turns Odysseus’s unsuspecting men into swine or Polyphemus, the Cyclops, sees through Odysseus’s lie and eats his comrades, two at each meal. But from a contemporary perspective at least, these episodes are easy to dismiss as fantastic, almost of a comic book sensibility, and are much different in kind from images of extreme violence directed by one human being at the other.

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Back in Ithaka, Odysseus' wife Penelope is getting swarmed by a horde of unwanted suitors. Odysseus and Penelope's son, Telemachos, now a typically moody teenager, gets a visit from the goddess Athene (who was always with Odysseus). She tells him to go looking for news of his missing father, so he heads to Pylos to visit King Nestor. Nestor takes him in, gives him a dinner—and then tells him to go see King Menelaos in Sparta. Once again, he does as he's told.


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The Odyssey is about a man. It says so right at the beginning — in Robert Fagles’s 1996 translation, for example, the poem opens with the line, “Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns.”


Odysseus spares only the bard and the herald Medon.

(2) Next, they met two horrible monsters (curiously, also female) named Skylla and Charybdis. As predicted by Circe, Skylla (who has six heads) ate six Ithakans; the rest barely escaped Charybdis (a giant vortex who sucks up the sea and vomits it back out again).

The Odyssey 2010: Is the Slaughter Justified?

As a woman, Wilson believes she comes to the Odyssey with a different perspective than translators who have gone before her. “Female translators often stand at a critical distance when approaching authors who are not only male, but also deeply embedded in a canon that has for many centuries been imagined as belonging to men,” she wrote in a recent essay at . She called translating Homer as a woman an experience of “intimate alienation.”

He aides Odysseus in the infamous suitor slaughter.

(1) When they passed by the Sirens, monstrous women with beautiful voices who try to lure sailors to their deaths, Odysseus made his men plug their ears and tie him to the mast so he could listen to the song without chasing after it. He became the only man to hear the Sirens' song and survive.

What are Odysseus' reasons for slaying the suitors in …

If one purpose of a simile is to compare one image or idea to a separate image or idea and thus create new meaning, Homer’s simile stops the action in the heat of battle and asks us to consider how the death of a blameless young person is like a poppy in a Spring rain. Homer creates a striking visual image that is contrary to the chaos of the battlefield and that, as the Classicist Ralph Johnson has put it, aestheticizes death. What does it mean that Homer makes violent death a part of the cycle of nature? What does it mean that Homer makes this destruction of young life beautiful?