WORLD LITERATURE I (ENG 251)

Homer Study Guide

Dr. Diane Thompson, NVCC, ELI

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The Table of Contents above will guide you to useful background information about Homer, Troy, the Troy Cycle, Epic poetry, and the Iliad as well as the Odyssey. I encourage you to read through all of this material before you begin to read the Odyssey. The information on the Troy Cycle will give you a context for the Odyssey--it was only one of several epics about the Trojan War.

I suggest reading through the lists of characters in advance to get your bearings before plunging into the text. You can return to these lists as you read Homer. Because the story of the Iliad (a battle at Troy) precedes that of the Odyssey (a Greek veteran of the Trojan War wandering home), it really helps to get some familiarity with the Iliad before reading the Odyssey.

In the first yellow box below, I have links to several different summaries of the Iliad. In order to appreciate the long tradition of Troy stories to follow, it is very important to have a firm grasp of who is doing what to whom and why in the Iliad.

I have included a list of summaries of the Odyssey in the second yellow box below. I suggest selecting and reading a summary first and then reading Homer. 

  Summaries of the Iliad:

ClassicNote on the Iliad a long, detailed summary of each book, with analysis; a few annoying ads, but pretty good overall
A Humanities Course from Reed College a great deal of useful information on the Iliad, including a thorough summary of the events of each book.
Homer, Iliad, Plot Summary and Discussion Issues A clear, fairly concise, nicely done summary and discussion.

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  Summaries of the Odyssey

ClassicNote on the Odyssey a long, detailed summary of each book, with analysis; a few annoying ads, but pretty good overall
Odysseus a cute retelling of the Odyssey from Mythweb; Illustrated by Mark Fiore; Text by Joel Skidmore; includes a short version as well as a more detailed version that also includes some informative hyperlinks

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© Diane Thompson: 8/13/1998; last updated: 7/29/2017