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In this course, we discuss four key themes in Homer's Odyssey. In the first module, we concentrate on the concept of oral poetry - the idea that the Odyssey was not originally written down, but passed orally from generation to generation - and the impact the poem's unique origin on its final, written form. In the second module, we explore the theme of the Homeric hero, arguing that Odysseus represents a totally different kind of hero to that seen in the Iliad. In the third module, we turn our attention to the concept of 'hospitality' or 'guest-friendship' - the Greek concept of 'xenia', while in the fourth and final module, we explore the theme of 'homecoming' in the poem.
In this module, we explore the status of the Odyssey as an 'oral poem' - a poem was originally transmitted by word-of-mouth rather than being written down in a book. In particular, we discuss the figure of Homer (who may or may not have actually existed), the limitations of the original (oral) poets and the impact this has had on the final form of the poem, and the possible original performance contexts of the epic.