Homer’s Odyssey (Spring)

ICCS-Catania, Spring 2009


Nigel Nicholson



Build on the linguistic skills developed last semester by reading and also internalizing a good quantity of Homer’s Odyssey<, specifically books IX and VI, as well as a third book read in class; develop your skills of reading and interpretation by writing a research paper and reading a selection of established scholarly articles on such themes as oral poetics, epic ideology, and colonization narratives.


Translation (written up whenever translation is due on Monday); secondary reading; class discussions; a research paper, together with a statement of topic and a short, annotated bibliography; two midterms and a final examination.


Cunliffe’s Lexicon of Homeric Dialect< and M. M. Willcock’s commentary to the first 12 books of the Odyssey<. I am assuming that you possess a good grammar, as well as a literal translation of the Iliad. < <


Due to the nature of the class, late work cannot be accepted. Absences are sometimes unavoidable (illness, etc), but (a) tell me beforehand, and (b) catch up on what you miss (you will need it later).


(Provisional) Course Outline

***When translation is due on Monday, you should provide a written copy for me of the first 20 lines***


Week I (2/2)



Week II (2/9)


Wednesday   Songs of Homer< (Cambridge, 1962), 55-101, 159-210 [Oral Poetics]

Week III (2/16)


Wednesday   Early Greece< (Harvard, 1993), 35-68 [Context]

Week IV (2/23)

Monday   <Midterm, Od<. IX.1-180

Wednesday   Man <21.1 (1986): 1-17< [Exchange]

Week V (3/2)


Wednesday   Best of the Achaeans< (Johns Hopkins, 1979), 26-41 [Od & Heroism]

Week VI (3/9)


Wednesday   Man in the Middle Voice< (Princeton, 1990), selections [Od & Heroism]

Week VII (3/16)


Wednesday   Dialogic Imagination<, (Texas, 1981), 3-40 [Epic form]


Week IX (3/30)


Wednesday   , Sons of the Gods <(Cornell, 1992), selections [Ideology]

Week X (3/31)

Monday   <Midterm, Od. <IX.1.-566

Wednesday   The Raft of Odysseus< (Oxford, 2001), 102-42 [Colonization]

Week XI (4/6)   <[Field Trip]


Week XII (4/13)


Wednesday   Paper Topic Statement due (1 or 2 paragraphs)

Week XIII (4/20)


Wednesday   <Annotated Bibliography due (4 or 5 articles / chapters)

Week XIV (4/27)

Monday   <Oral presentation of your paper project

Wednesday   <Research Paper due (7-10 pages)

Exam period, Week XV (5/4)

Monday   <Final exam, Od. <

Course Requirements in Detail


The goal is to cover all of books IX and VI through prepared readings, though some may need to be read in class. With additional class time we will read other parts of books I-XII, perhaps focusing on a single book with a Magna Grecia bent. For every Monday class when new translation is due, a translation  together with your vocabulary list; for other classes, you should be ready to offer a (meaningful) translation when asked, or, failing that, be able to parse the various words in the sentence, and analyze some options. You should keep a running vocabulary list of words you do not know, including principal parts, genitives etc of each word.

Midterms and Final:

Midterms will be translation only; the final will be translation and commentary. For your commentary, you should:

    <li “”> Indicate where in the narrative the passage comes, what facts are needed to understand it and what is coming next.< <li “”> Comment on two or three significant aspects or issues raised by the passage -perhaps ideology, narrative, character development (or non-development).< <li “”> Refer in as much detail as possible to other critics, and to other parts of the text.< <li “”> Provide concluding short summary of your points.<

Class Discussions:

There will be supplementary reading on the Iliad< (its meter, poetics, structure, ideology, and narrative form). Be ready to discuss these readings when they are due, and thereafter.

Research Paper:

You are required to write a research paper, that is a paper on some aspect of the Iliad< raised particularly by the books we are reading that is informed by current research, as well as the readings assigned this semester. The process will be broken down into pieces:

    <li “”> First, a short topic statement will be due, declaring what subject you intend to write about, and what if any of the readings we have so far read will be used;< <li “”> Second, you should search out additional bibliography via JSTOR (4 or 5 articles), read and digest them, take notes on them, and produce short paragraph summaries of each (ie an Annotated Bib)< <li “”> Third, you should be ready to talk through the project to the class;< <li “”> Finally, the project must be written up as a formal paper.

Ideally, we will have short conferences on these papers in exam week so I can give you good feedback.

Course Bibliography

Mikhail Bakhtin, Dialogic Imagination<, (Texas, 1981), 3-40 [Epic form]

Carol Dougherty, The Raft of Odysseus< (Oxford, 2001), 102-42 [Colonization]

G. S. Kirk, Songs of Homer< (Cambridge, 1962), 55-101, 159-210 [Oral Poetics]

Ian Morris, “Gift and Commodity in Archaic Greece,” Man <21.1 (1986): 1-17<

Oswyn Murray, Early Greece< (Harvard, 1993), 35-68 [Context]

Gregory Nagy, Best of the Achaeans< (Johns Hopkins, 1979), 26-41 [Od & Heroism]

John Peradotto, Man in the Middle Voice< (Princeton, 1990), selections [Od & Heroism]

Peter Rose, Sons of the Gods <(Cornell, 1992), selections [Ideology]

M. M. Willcock, Odyssey Iliad I-XII< (Bristol),, lxxxii-lxxxvi [Meter]