The Odyssey of Homer : The Great Courses: Western Literature

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Elizabeth Vandiver
  • Series: The Great Courses: Western Literature
  • 6 hrs and 5 mins
  • Lecture

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.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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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- Deep Reader


I really enjoyed both this and The Iliad. The professor is knowledgeable and fleshed out the story. But she retained the sense of wonder at the enormous achievement So much of Homeric studies have lost the amazement at wonder at an amazing work of literature by focusing too much on the mechanics of who and how.

But it is very obvious that this and The Iliad were one course. She references back to things form the previous course and does not include the introductory lectures on Homer, which are necessary. And she refers to it as a Homer course. I did listen to The Iliad first so this was no loss for me but if you don't then you are losing something. More importantly a very obvious way to scam credits off of people by Audible.
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- Betsy

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-08-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses