ABSTRACT

Published in 1970, this important work interprets the poem with a focus on the idiosyncrasies of its originally oral composition.

In part I, the main themes of the Odyssey such as ‘guest-friendship’ and ‘testing’ are investigated. The incorporation of these and other themes, such as ‘omens’ and the ‘homecomings of the Achaeans’, into the dramatic construction of the whole epic is also examined. In Part II, the main characters of the Odyssey are described: the Suitors, Telemachus, Odysseus and Penelope. So too are Theoclymenus and Laertes, whom traditional criticism has maligned or disregarded. The analysis of the characters tries to illumine features which are challenging for the contemporary reader. In the conclusion, the ‘plan’ of the Odyssey is reconstructed. The author argues that it would probably have been performed over the course of three days: two sessions each day, with each recitation maintaining its own artistic unity.

chapter I|15 pages

The Homecomings of the Achaeans

chapter II|22 pages

The Wanderings of Odysseus

chapter III|9 pages

Guest-Friendship

chapter IV|5 pages

Testing

chapter V|6 pages

Omens

chapter VI|5 pages

Theoclymenus

chapter VII|5 pages

The Suitors

chapter VIII|10 pages

Telemachus

chapter IX|15 pages

Odysseus

chapter X|22 pages

Penelope

chapter XI|5 pages

Laertes