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Publisher's Summary

What is it in Homer's Odyssey that has so enthralled readers from around the world for thousands of years? By joining Professor Vandiver for these 12 lectures on the Odyssey, you'll find out why.
This literary exploration centers on a single provocative question about the epic poem's protagonist, Odysseus: Why does he long so powerfully to go home? To probe the depths of this question, you'll embark on meticulous, insightful examinations of the most important episodes in the Odyssey. In doing so, you'll understand the cultural assumptions that lie behind Homer's lines and the critical and interpretive issues involved in truly unpacking this ancient masterpiece.
Among the range of episodes, themes, and topics you'll explore are: Odysseus's superb skills as a rhetorician; the abrupt break in the text at the end of the "Great Wanderings" episode, when the poem briefly returns to the third-person narrative; Penelope's knowledge and motives as they relate to the inevitability of her suitors' doom; the effectiveness (or possible lack thereof) in the poem's ending; the historical basis for the Trojan War from which Odysseus returns; and more.
For anyone who's loved the stories of Odysseus's encounters with witches, monsters, and vengeful gods; for anyone who's longed to truly grasp the intricate nature of Homer's epic; or for anyone who has been looking for ways to approach a work that can often be intimidating to first-time readers, these lectures are an invaluable resource and a helpful introduction to the grandest adventure story in Western literature.
©1999 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)1999 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By SAMA on 01-14-14

Another Great Course of a Greak Greek Classic

What did you like best about this story?

The tragic adventures of Odysseus after the Trojan War takes him all over the place, and includes flashbacks for the parts of the Trojan War that happened after the Iliad, as well as his encounters with a Cyclops, a sorceress and divinities all over the place.

What about Professor Elizabeth Vandiver’s performance did you like?

Professor Elizabeth Vandiver is quickly becoming one of my favorite professors available through the Great Courses. She knows how to provide the structure the material deserves, while keeping it accessible.

Any additional comments?

If you decide to listen to this course, be sure to listen to the Iliad (same Professor) first to get the best experience. In a way, it could be considered a prerequisite.

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful


By Tommy D'Angelo on 08-09-15

Overall engaging course but ending felt off

Would you consider the audio edition of The Odyssey of Homer to be better than the print version?

Pluses:<br/>• A great book-by-book summary of the events of the Odyssey<br/>• Frequent citing of examples of two common themes: 1- The definition of good and bad hospitality; 2- Odysseus’s craftiness at being able to read people and tailoring his message or approach based on the situation<br/>• The professor was easy to listen to (almost every sentence was easy to understand and there is an avoidance of flowery language that makes understanding difficult)<br/><br/>Minuses:<br/>• The professor tended to explain the same point multiple times and seemed to repeat sentences (the point could’ve been made in less sentences)<br/>The ending of the course felt off for two reasons: 1- The last lecture seems somewhat out of place and probably would fit better in the Iliad course; 2- The course seemed to be missing concluding thoughts/final analysis of the work or its literary themes <br/>

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Mark Belisarius on 10-23-17

Excellent Synopsis and Background

Places The Odyssey in context. Summarises the plot and explains historic importance of this work. Knowledgable lecturer.

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