by Emma Franco – 11 Jul 2004
“So – does everyone know what the Odyssey is about?”Ms. Eliot asked us on the first day of our Odyssey seminar.
Some answers were drastically off, others accurate but inaudible, and I blurted out: ì Isnít it about Odysseus?î
In a more descriptive way, the Odyssey is about the adventures Odysseus has on his long journey home to Ithaka, where his wife, Penelope, and his now grown son wait for him.
This journey he takes is no mere long journey; this is the mother of all long journeys. Twenty-one years Odysseus sailed around, meeting up with cannibals, shades, Cyclopes and the occasional goddess. Yet his faithful wife, who is being hounded by suitors, waits, never giving up hope, while her husband is off having a 7-year rendezvous with an immortal nymph.
Finally Odysseus makes it home and goes on a bloody and exciting killing rampage before finally revealing himself to the ever patient Penelope.
Through the entire 21 years, Athena, who has a soft spot for resourceful, strong, handsome men, guides Odysseus, disguised as a mortal, to help him reach home. And yet, although there are several gods who help Odysseus, there are also some gods who fight him, making it as difficult as they can for him.
We were thrown into a mythical world, created by Homer, of gods and goddesses, underworlds, storm-ridden seas, strange creatures, returning warriors haggard from the battle of Troy, and beautiful nymphs.
This captivating tale inspired us, and Ms. Eliot brought to life a world that has been dead for thousands of years, a world as magical as the legends that surround it, an entire civilization that we discovered and understood through this magnificent epic.
The best part of this block was writing my report for the course. In a Ms. Eliot block you have more creative freedom than usual. You are encouraged to stray from the usual report format and make it into something more fun and original.
One student ended up writing 20 pages instead of 3-5. Iím sure you will see our beautiful maps hanging up around the school.
And always remember: ìDonít kill the man, donít touch his wife, or face a reckoning with Orestes.îñ Homer