The Complete Homer – A Deep Read of the Iliad and Odyssey
About the course
The Complete Homer is an in-depth survey of the two great Homeric epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey. We will focus on four things in this class.
First, the TEXT: the students will read through the entirety of both epics, with regular reading aloud by turns in class; we will take a look at the original Greek in many selected passages (though no prior knowledge of Greek is assumed or required for the class) and compare it with our English translations; and we will compare different translations in selected passages and discuss translation issues and the significant of those issues for other literature, especially the Bible.
Second, CULTURE: we’ll discuss the relationship of the poems and their world to the surrounding Ancient Near East cultures, including ancient Israel. We will also look at Homer’s influence on Old Western Culture from his day up to our own.
Third, LITERATURE: we will study the structure of the poems and the storytelling techniques Homer uses and how they have influenced poetry and stories ever since.
And fourth: CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVES: we will discuss the attitude of the Christian world, especially the early Christian writers, to Homer’s poems and to pre-Christian (pagan) Greek literature and philosophy in general, and the value of these epics for a well-educated Christian person in the modern world.
The student will
- Learn and be able to retell the stories of the Iliad and Odyssey in their broad outlines, including the main characters and their roles.
- Think more clearly about textual and translation issues in literature, especially the Bible.
- Gain an understanding of and appreciation for the foundational role these poems had in ancient Greek culture and in later Old Western Culture.
- Understand and defend the importance of these literary works for a thoughtful, literate Christian.
- The Iliad and the Odyssey, trans. Wesley Callihan (Roman Roads Press, available summer 2022)
- One other modern translation of each: for the Iliad must be Lattimore, Green, or Alexander; for the Odyssey must be Lattimore, Lombardo, or Fitzgerald.
- A list of optional, recommended books will be given to the students in the first session.