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Homer's Odyssey Lesson for Kids: Summary & Myth

Instructor: Jenny Homer

Jenny has masters' degrees in public health and public administration.

Have you ever gone on a very long trip that did not turn out as planned? Find out about one of the most famous journeys, full of unexpected events, taken by a man named Odysseus in Homer's epic poem, The Odyssey.

The Odyssey

What do you think of when you hear the word odyssey? The definition, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is 'a long journey full of adventures.' But the word actually comes from one of the most famous poems called The Odyssey by Homer, who lived in ancient Greece.

Plot and Summary

As we said, an odyssey is a journey with many adventures, and that's exactly what the main character of The Odyssey experiences. His name is Odysseus, and he is the king of Ithaca. Odysseus is smart, brave, clever, and a good fighter. He needs to be these things to survive his odyssey.

Odysseus on his journey
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In the story, Odysseus has been away from Ithaca for 20 years. During this time, Odysseus's wife, Penelope, has been waiting for him with his son, Telemachus. Over 100 men have tried to get her to marry them and have taken over her home, causing trouble.

Odysseus first fought in the Trojan War, which lasted ten years. During the war, Odysseus helps the Greeks win by sneaking soldiers into Troy in a wooden horse that looks like a gift. He heads back home, but this trip takes another ten years. Along the way, he has some incredible adventures and meets many unusual characters. He and his men travel through bad storms, get ship-wrecked, fight a giant with one eye named Cyclops, and must get past the Sirens, creatures who have beautiful voices and kill sailors.

Picture of Trojan horse
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Greek gods and goddesses cause trouble or help Odysseus through his travels. He is the only one to survive after his last ship is destroyed by one of the gods.

In the second half of The Odyssey, Odysseus finally gets back to Ithaca. The only two people who recognize him are his dog and an old nurse. Odysseus proves who he is to Penelope by being the only one able to shoot his old bow and passing a test about how he built their bed. Now, Odysseus and Telemachus fight the suitors to win back his rightful position as king.

Role in Greek Mythology

Homer's work is not just any poem, but an epic poem, a long poem that tells a story about a hero and other happenings. There are 24 books in The Odyssey, and each line is written in a certain rhythm.

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