Homer's Odyssey: More than Men, Monsters, Witches and Gods

117 TUTOR: Susan Brockman (PhD)

The Odysseyis a work of Western literature that almost everyone knows something about, but few have actually read. Odysseus' escape from the Cyclops, his surviving the deadly call of the Sirens and Penelope's tricking of the suitors have become part of our common culture. The Odyssey is a foundational work, yet, what does it have to say to the modern reader? In your odyssey through The Odyssey, you will study the complexity of its characters, their self-awareness and their joy in blurring the lines of truth and fiction. Powerful men, women and gods weave tales and cloth, webs of identity and mystery and re-knit the fabric of their world.


2 AM
AM course

Course Notes

Students will receive a copy of the poem and some hand-outs and plot synopses. It is not expected that anyone has read the whole poem-or even parts of it-in advance. We'll read selected passages aloud together, in keeping with the expectation that the poem would be recited, not read silently, and I'll do my best to fill in the gaps. What follows is a basic (and hopefully intriguing) outline of our time together, subject to adjustment in real-time.

Day 1: Introduction: The World of Odysseus and the Odyssey

Books 1-4: A Fatherless boy, an unravelled world and the search for a missing story


Day 2: Books 5-8: We find the hero but he must find himself

Books 9-10: Telling his own tales - Adventures in Wonderland


Day 3: Books 11-13: To Death and back and finally home alone but where and what is home?

Books 14-16 A Kingly swineherd and lying tales truer than truth


Day 4: Books 17-18: The beggar at the palace gate - Nobody for sure this time

Books 19-20: Wooing your wife, dreams and questions, recognition deflected; plans made


Day 5: Books 21-14: Becoming Odysseus: The Contest of the Bow, the secret of the Marriage Bed, a day of human and divine reckoning, reweaving the fabric of Ithaca


Last thoughts: Why was Homer such a bad novelist? A problematic ending? No ending? The odysseys continue.


Course Tutor

Susan Brockman


About Susan

With a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, Susan has taught at the City University of New York and at Stuyvesant High School for 35 years. She likes to say that she's taught "many things to many people" but mostly Classical Literature in translation, Latin and Greek, and Linguistics. She delights in helping students find how completely alive the Classical world is today. No need to make it relevant; it requires only some keys to the workings of ancient minds and being human. She hopes to enlighten and entertain, and welcomes moments of awe whenever she and her students can find them.

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All courses run for 5 days

WK 1 8 Jul - 12 Jul

WK 2 15 Jul - 19 Jul

WK 3 22 Jul - 26 Jul

WK 4 29 Jul - 2 Aug

Morning Courses

9.15AM to 12.15PM

Afternoon Courses

1.45PM to 4.30PM

All Day Courses

9.15AM to 4.30PM