Allusions in the Odyssey - What makes a hero a hero?

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Allusions in the Odyssey
“Why cover the same ground again? ... It goes against my
grain to repeat a tale told once, and told so clearly.”
-Homer, The Odyssey
What is an allusion?
 An allusion is a reference
 within a literary work,
 to another work of fiction,
 a film,
 a piece of art,
 or even a real event.
Why do writers use allusions?
 serves as a kind of shorthand,
 provide greater context or meaning to the situation
 Gives a richer understanding of the work
 a kind of hypertext

links the reader to another tradition or literary history
being written about.
 sampling other works, the way DJs sample other songs.
 Shows appreciation for the other work
How effective are a
allusions?
 If the reader, viewer, listener understands the reference,
the allusion can be very effective, kind of like an inside
joke.
 If the reader, viewer or listener doesn’t understand the
allusion, it may be confusing or lost on
How do you increase your
understanding of allusions
 Read
 Watch smart television and movies
 Listen to intelligent conversation
Most students are aware of the
allusions in the Percy Jackson
books and movies
•In The Battle of the Labyrinth, a girl in trapped
on an island just as Odysseus is trapped on
Calypso’s island
But there are many other allusions to the
Odyssey in popular fiction
•Atlas and Calypso also appear in Tad
William’s Otherworld Series
In popular literature
Discworld Novels
An inept wizard named Rincewind bumps into an ancient ancestor who has ended a
siege with the help of a large wooden horse. The ancestor is a bit worried about
getting home after the war has ended. "Oh you get home all right," says Rincewind
airily, "there are whole stories about you getting home." Rincewind meets his
deceased ancestor in Hell.
The Starcrossed Novels
A trilogy that starts with a modern-day version of the
relationship that started the Trojan War (a beautiful girls
swept away by someone) A teenaged girl is
in the role of Helen of Troy
Raised by Wolves
A werewolf series that contains many
allusions to events from the Odyssey
including the Trojan Horse
Other literature

James Joyce's Ulysses (1922)

Some of the tales of Sinbad the Sailor from One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights)

Nikos Kazantzakis’s The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel, a 33,333 line epic poem which continues Odysseus's journeys
past the point of his arrival in Ithaca.

Charles Frazier’s 1997 novel Cold Mountain about a confederate war deserter returning home

Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad retells the story from Penelope’s point of view

A part of Thomas Wolfe's novel Of Time and the River is entitled Telemachus

R L Fanthorpe's novel Negative Minus contains the names of the Odyssey’s characters spelled backwards (for
example "Suessydo", "Ecric" and "Acahti").

Dan Simmons’ Ilium and Olympos are science fiction adaptations of the Iliad and Odyssey with robots and
posthumans.
* Dr. Jonathan Shay's Odysseus in America: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming" (2002) uses Odysseus as
metaphor to focus on the veteran’s experience upon returning from war

There are many other pieces of literature including plays and poems that reference The Odyssey
Allusions to the Odyssey in
modern as well as classical music
Allusions to the Odyssey in
Popular Music

The American metal band Symphony X made a 24 minute long musical version of the poem titles “The Odyssey”

To the one that I love, my journey has begun
When our eyes meet once more there will be peace
The taste of your lips the warmth of your touch
again, forever, two souls as one
Seems like forever that my eyes have been denied
Home - I'm dreaming of the home
I've been twenty years away from all I ever knew
to return would make my dream come true
Seasons of sorrow have stolen all my years
I miss the rolling hills of Ithaca
I've been through battles and cried a sea of tears
but the tide is changing, and with it all my fears
Seems like forever that my eyes have been denied
Home - I'm dreaming of the home
I've been twenty years away from all I ever knew
to return would make my dream come true
Behold the sea and winds of Jove
We set sail guided by the stars above
The ports of Troy escape our view
a cold and stormy fate awaits our rendezvous
Onward we ride, into the raging fury
Setting our course by the moon and sun
We forge ahead seeking glory
Yet the journey has just begun
.

The Steely Dan Song “Home at Last” on the Aia album features an unnamed Odysseus as narrator
.
The Steely Dan Song “Home at Last” on the Aia album features an
unnamed Odysseus as narrator

I know this super highway
This bright familiar sun
I guess that I'm the lucky one
Who wrote that tired sea song
Set on this peaceful shore
You think you've heard this one before
Well the danger on the rocks is surely past
Still I remain tied to the mast
Could it be that I have found my home at last
Home at last
She serves the smooth retsina
She keeps me safe and warm
It's just the calm before the storm
Call in my reservation
So long hey thanks my friend
I guess I'll try my luck again
Well the danger on the rocks is surely past
Still I remain tied to the mast
Could it be that I have found my home at last
Home at last
Other Songs
 John Denver’s “Calypso” about a ship named Calypso
 Suzanne Vega’s “Calypso” about a woman forced to let a
man she loves go
 Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds “More News from
Nowhere” summarizing the story of Odysseus and
Calypso
Movies and Television
Fire and Ice – Vol. VI of The Game of Thrones
Contains a character named Cerci Frey, who is as much a temptress as Circe is
to Odysseus
Other Allusions to the Odyssey
In Books and Films
John Irving’s Cider House Rules
The main character, Homer, returns home to the orphanage where
he grew up to a doctor who waits for his return.
There are many references to the
Odyssey In Movies
 In Pirates of the Carribean, the goddess Calypso, once in
love with Davy Jones, becomes trapped in human form
and assumes the name Tia Dalma
Oh Brother, Where Art Thou
 The beginning of the film, "O Muse! Sing in me, and through me tell
the story…..
 characters in the film share names with similar characters in the
Odyssey:

Ulysses, the Latin form of the Greek name Odysseus, is the first name of the film's
protagonist, Ulysses Everett McGill.

Menelaus 'Pappy' O'Daniel, who pardons the Soggy Bottom Boys at the end of the film,
shares his first name with the King of Sparta who fought alongside Odysseus at Troy.

Homer Stokes, who shares his first name with the author of the classical text.

Everett’s wife is named Penny, a shortened version of Penelope, is the name of Everett’s
wife.

Washer women try to seduce the hero like The Sirens try to seduce the Heros

A character named Vernon tries to marry Penny just as the suitors wait to marry Penelope.

A blind railroad hobo parallels Tiresius, the blind ghost prophet.
The Odyssey is even alluded to in
video games
 In the Twisted Metal games, the name Calypso is given to
a male character who grants one wish which often
backfires to other characters
 “2001: a Space Odyssey,” with the nominal hero
surviving by himself after several trials, including the
outer space equivalent of a shipwreck.
Allusions Can Be Funny!
 http://www.mediaite.com/tv/snls-sexy-sirens-seduceancient-greek-heroes-with-bland-90s-girl-rock/
Saturday Night Live re-imagined the Sirens using the exact
opposite of seductive music used to lure Odysseus and his heroic
crew: bland ’90s chick rock.
So ….
 Allusions increase our enjoyment of many art forms, but
you can only enjoy literary allusions
IF
You are familiar with….
LITERATURE!

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