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Odyssey

ancient Greek epic poem, Peloponnesus, king of Ithaca, Greek hero, Trojan War

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Odyssey, ancient Greek epic poem in 24 books attributed to the poet Homer. It was probably composed in the 8th century bc. The Odyssey relates in 12,110 lines the perilous adventures of Odysseus (called Ulysses in Latin), a Greek hero and king of Ithaca in western Greece. After the fall of Troy at the end of the Trojan War, Odysseus is forced to wander for ten years before returning home to his wife Penelope in Ithaca.

The epic poem the Iliad, also attributed to Homer, describes events of the Trojan War. In contrast with the Iliad, which is mainly located in Troy and is recounted in a straightforward narrative, the Odyssey has many changes of scene and a complex plot. Its scenes range from Troy to Egypt, North Africa, the Peloponnesus, Ithaca, and the western Mediterranean. The narrative begins near what is chronologically the end of the story, and earlier incidents are unfolded later in the poem (as in the modern flashback technique).

Homerís Odyssey is one of the great stories of all time. It has had a strong influence on later European literature, especially on epics of the Renaissance (14th century through 16th century). From Homerís plan of the Odyssey, a standard practice developed of beginning an epic with an incident from the middle or the end of the story. Earlier events are then related at a convenient point later in the story. The outstanding 20th-century example of the Odysseus, or Ulysses, theme is the novel Ulysses, by Irish author James Joyce.



Article key phrases:

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