A Companion To Homer's Odyssey / Edition 1

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Odysseus lost his way, but students shouldn't have to. This delightful companion, written in a lively narrative style and full of fresh insights and interpretations, offers teachers a wealth of ideas for making Homer's timeless epic come alive for students. Introductory chapters provide the historical and mythological background necessary to fully appreciate the events in the Odyssey. A fascinating essay acquaints students with Homeric values and another examines the Odyssey as literature, offering expert discussion of the work's structure and poetic features and situating it in the oral tradition it exemplifies. Maps, charts, tables, and photographs help readers further appreciate the story and its historical context. At the core of this resource are units on each of the 24 books of the Odyssey; each is attractively presented with an illustration, plot synopsis, and discussion of theme and character development.

Well-placed sidebars offer supplemental information on various facets of classical antiquity, such as the position of women in Ancient Greece, the role of competitive sports, and interesting etymological aspects of the Greek language. At the back of the book is a listing of main characters, along with a handy pronunciation guide. Additional appendices explore the enduring influence of the Odyssey in literature, the arts, and even popular culture, with a separate section examining Odyssean themes in movies. Useful ideas for activities and classroom projects are offered, as are suggestions for further reading and online research.

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Editorial Reviews

These two volumes by Claudia and Vernon Johnson and by James Morrison exhibit different approaches to studying the Odyssey. The Morrison book, which is a stand-alone title, begins with three essays discussing the Odyssey as literature, Homeric values, and Homer and history. Later chapters discuss each book of the Odyssey, dealing with plot, characterization, and other literary features as well as the main themes. Many quotations and references to other works such as the Iliad are used. Offset boxes act like sidebars with detailed information about Greek language, geography, and interesting facts about life in ancient Greece. The book finishes with several appendixes, including a character index and pronunciation guide, activities and classroom projects, Odyssean themes and the movies, and Web sites devoted to Homer. The author explains literary technique quite clearly through his readable prose. This book will be a good reference for students just beginning to study the Odyssey, or for students or teachers who want to understand it better. The activities listed in the appendix cover all levels from elementary through college. The Johnsons' book is a work of scholarly argument about the many issues surrounding Homer and the Odyssey for older students interested in serious research. It is a part of the Literature in Context series. Each chapter deals with a particular aspect of Homer and the Odyssey, such as geography, archaeological excavations, history, the Trojan War, revenge, athletes, heroes, and the contemporary relevance of the themes. Chapters begin with an introduction to the topic and contain quotes relevant to the context from ancient to modern writers. Useful questions for oraland written discussion and suggestions for further reading are included at the end of each chapter. Teachers could find this book helpful for understanding different aspects of the book before teaching it. Both volumes would be quite useful to anyone trying to teach or understand the Odyssey. Morrison's contribution is more accessible to younger high school students and is more of a direct aid to reading the book, whereas the Johnsons' book deals more with analysis. Depending on a library's need, both books could easily be useful. 2003, Greenwood, 224p.; Glossary. Index. Illus. Photos. Maps. Further Reading., PLB Ages 15 to Adult.
—Cindy Faughnan
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up-Complementary aids to one of the West's foundational works. After an analysis of central themes, the Johnsons devote six chapters to context (mythology, geography, archaeology, history, the Trojan War, and the social structures of the Achaeans). They close by examining contemporary echoes of the issues of revenge, athletics, and the heroic ideal. Each chapter also includes relevant documents, projects or questions for exploration, and a bibliography. Little attention is paid to the Internet, and there are two abominable maps, but this is an intelligent and well-conceived book. Morrison takes readers book-by-book through the epic. Opening chapters discuss structure, the oral tradition, Homeric values, and history. The author's style is enthusiastic and takes a personal tone. The informative text and sidebars provide a wealth of information on literary form, themes, techniques, background, context, linguistic insights, and later influence. A few black-and-white pictures show Greek artworks or artifacts, and the three small maps are useful. Brief appendixes cover pronunciation, the literary legacy, further reading, online connections, and more. Although accessible and engaging rather than scholarly and exhaustive, Companion does go beyond the guides available online. Neither book ties itself to a single translation; both open the epic to first-time readers. If your budget will stretch to only one title, the Johnsons' volume is the one of choice. It will save students and teachers many hours because it gathers together excerpts from ancient and modern writers to expand the points at which readers might connect to this immortal epic.-Patricia D. Lothrop, St. George's School, Newport, RI Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780313318542
  • Publisher: ABC-Clio, LLC
  • Publication date: 6/1/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,341,827
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

JAMES V. MORRISON is Associate Professor of Classical Studies and NEH Professor of the Humanities at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. He is author of Homeric Misdirection: False Predictions in the Iliad and numerous articles on classical literature, mythology, and history.

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Table of Contents

A Note on Translations
The Odyssey as Literature 1
Homeric Values 21
Homer and History 27
Homer's Odyssey
App. 1 Who's Who? Character Index with Pronunciation 185
App. 2 Odysseus and the Odyssey after Homer: The European and American Tradition 189
App. 3 Activities, Classroom Projects, and More 195
App. 4 Further Reading 199
App. 5 The Odyssey and Odyssean Themes at the Movies 203
App. 6 Homer On-Line 205
Index 207
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