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Homer: The Iliad – The Odyssey

homer

Homer

Greek history has seen many men of learning create masterpiece’s, which are read by many to this day.  The poet Homer born between the 12th and 8th century BC, on the coast of Asia Minor, according to historical evidence.

With no factual evidence on his early life, Homer this Greek poet, would be considered a man of mystery, for little is known of him, other than he has been credited with writing two epic works.

“The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” both written in the dialect of Asiatic Greek, give credence to his place of birth.

The Iliad by Homer (Summary)

The Iliad tells us of the siege of Troy, during the Trojan War by the Greek Achaean Army who took prisoner the maidens; Chryseis and Briseis.

Agamemnon takes Chryseis as his prize whilst Achilles claims Briseis.  Chryses father of Chryseis, priest to the God Apollo offers a ransom for her return … it is refused.  Chryses prays to his God Apollo, who sends a plague to bear down upon the Achaean Camp.

Agamemnon consults the prophet Calchas to determine the cause of the plague, which was killing many of his warriors.  His prize, Chryseis was behind the plague, and reluctantly returns her to her father.

He then demands Briseis from Achilles, the Achaean’s greatest warrior who feels insulted by the demand, and refuses to take no further action in the war.  Achilles was that warrior who gave much confidence in battle to many of his warriors.

Achilles calls upon the sea-nymph Thetis to enlist Zeus, in the destruction of the Achaean’s.

A cease fire is declared between the Trojan’s and the Achaean’s, and Zeus supports the Trojans in their time of need.  The Trojan army push back their invaders to their ships and set one on fire.  Without ships the Achaean army would be stranded on Troy.

Achilles concerned for his men, agrees with Patroclus, in letting his loyal friend take his place in battle wearing the armour of Achilles. Hector, warrior for Troy, slays Patroclus.  Achilles filled with rage, rejoins the war and attacks Troy.

Thetis requests the God Hephaestus to forge a suit of armour for Achilles … and he rides out at the head of the Achaean army, early the next morning.

When the Trojan army observe the Achaean’s with Achilles at the front, they flee into the city, seeking the cover of the city walls.  Achilles cuts down every Trojan who crosses his path, until he finally meets his prey; Hector.  In a dramatic fight Hector is slain and Achilles lashes his body to the rear of a chariot, and drags it across the battlefield for all to see.

Both sides agree to a truce, and the Trojans mourn their hero, and give him a funeral deserved for that of a hero.

The Odyssey by Homer (Summary)

Ten years have passed by since the fall of Troy, and Odysseus has not returned to Ithaca; his lands lay in ruins, his palace plagued with suitors, seeking the hand of his wife Penelope, all believing he must surely be dead.

Prince Telemachus son of Odysseus has not the experience in battle to evict them.  Antinous, desires to rid himself of the young prince and obtain dominion over the palace and Penelope.

Odysseus lives; imprisoned on the island of Ogygia by Calypso, who possesses love for him.  The God’s of Mount Olympus hold his life and future in their hands.  Athena goes to the aid of Telemachus who travels to Pylos and Sparta where upon he learns that Odysseus still lives, but remains a prisoner of Calypso.

Telemachus returns home, unaware that Antinous is plotting to kill him when he reaches port.

Zeus sends Hermes to rescue Odysseus from Calypso, who persuades Calypso to let Odysseus build a ship and return home.

On his return trip, Poseidon “God of the Sea sends a storm which wrecks Odysseus’s ship, for Poseidon blames Odysseus for the blinding of his son.

Athena steps in, saving Odysseus from the full wrath of Poseidon and the lands of Scheria home of the Phaeacians.

Odysseus receives a welcome by Nausicaa of the Phaeacians, who ask to hear of his adventures and in return grant him safe passage to Ithaca.  With their assistance he returns to Ithaca disguised as a beggar.  He encounters his son Telemachus who had outwitted the suitors ambush.

Odysseus and Telemachus devise a way of ridding his lands, his palace of these suitors, believing that Odysseus has been killed.  Arriving at the palace, only to be scorned by possible suitors, dressed in the clothes of a beggar.

Penelope found the beggar interesting, yet something very familiar … could it be her husband in disguise she thought?

She organises an archery tournament; who can string Odysseus’s great bow and fire an arrow through twelve axes … I will marry.

Not a single suitor could complete the task, but the beggar did it with ease.  He then turns the bow on the suitors, and with help from his son and servants kills’ every last suitor.

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