On our very first day of class, I mentioned that for many people, when they hear the term “myth” they immediately think about Greek myths, and the gods and goddesses of Athens. They may not immediately think of Homer’s ‘Odyssey,’ but without a doubt, it is one of the most important, most influential mythological works ever written. Though it is understood as a sweeping myth, Homer’s masterpiece is also fascinating as a kind of political document, a manifesto about war and peace, imperialism, violence, hatred, and so on. And that fact has inspired the prompt for your third Blogpost of the semester. This will be a two-part response, as articulated below:
1) The infamous “clash of the titans” is one of the earliest stories that we have from the world of Greek myth. Thinking back to our class from last Wednesday, I want you to explore a specific story from early Greek myth as a kind of political document, a creative act that negotiates the day’s crises of power and authority. How is war and violence manifest in this story, and what does it teach us about such violence, the people who enact violence, and, perhaps, about the Greek culture itself?
2) In the second part, I want you to build on this thinking by examining something related to war and peace as depicted by Homer in the ‘Odyssey.’ Homer himself apparently endured considerable civil strife and warfare in his lifetime, and it is only natural that he uses the words of his characters to comment on the violence and power-struggles that surrounded him. Hence, in this section I want you to address a particular war-oriented theme – such as violence, hatred, justice, mercy, authority, surrender, and negotiation – and examine that theme as presented in a particular passage from the ‘Odyssey.’ Pick a quotation or two from the text and then discuss it in terms of its political content. In your discussion you should identify the central issue of your chosen lines, and detail the challenges, views, and logic of characters concerning the subject; then, you must offer some thoughts on what YOU think about the topic within the context of the story (if not the culture of Greece more generally).