Lesson 15: Introducing the Odyssey

This term, we have started looking at Homer’s other great epic, the Odyssey.

We started by looking at some of the main human characters and discussing them. Odysseus’ most frequent epithet is “wily”, and we talked about how he is often playing tricks on people or performing cunning plans. We will be looking at some of his schemes in the next few lessons. One of them is shown in the image below – what is happening in this famous picture by J.W. Waterhouse (1891)? We will discuss next lesson!


Penelope, his wife, has tricks of her own, such as the unpicking of the shawl each night (although some of you thought this was more a testament to the stupidity of the suitors than the cleverness of Penelope!). Finally, we looked at Telemachus, his son, who was just a baby when he left for the Trojan War, and at the start of the Odyssey, is just learning that he is now a man and starting to want to find out who his father is.


I gave each pair of group of three a set of playing cards which contained the key events of the story, and asked each group to put these into chronological order. You all did a good job of guessing some of these, and we then talked through the story in brief and went through the actual order. We saw how many of the very magical stories are told by Odysseus himself – was he exaggerating?

We also looked at whether he had been careless in losing all his men, or whether his men were actually responsible for their own destruction!


Finally, we finished the story of Phaethon in our Latin text books, and saw how he plunged to earth, after being struck by a thunderbolt, but not before having scorched much of the earth!

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