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The Iliad and the Odyssey Analysis
The epic poems attributed to the Greek author Homer are important literary sources
to study. They can tell us a number of things about Greek history, culture, and
society. In this assignment I would like you to read the following passages of the
Iliad and the Odyssey, keeping in mind the underlying meaning of the written words.
The primary purpose of this assignment is to understand what characteristics were
important in Greek society at the time of Homers writing of the Iliad and Odyssey.
This will allow us to draw conclusions about the type of society that the Greek
people valued and strove to achieve.
Read the passages below and write down what characteristic is being
portrayed in the dialogue. Then explain why you believe this is the
characteristic being portrayed and why you think this would be important
in Greek society.
The Iliad
(Achilles speaking)
1. Mother tells me,
the immortal goddess Thetis with her glistening feet,
that two fates bear me on to the day of death.
If I hold out here and I lay siege to Troy,
my journey home is gone, but my glory never dies.
If I voyage back to the fatherland I love,
my pride, my glory dies . . .
true, but the life thats left me will be long,
the stroke of death will not come on me quickly.
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2. But one thing more. A last requestgrant it, please.
Never bury my bones apart from yours, Achilles,
let them lie together
just as we grew up together in your house.
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The Odyssey
1. So then,
royal son of Laertes, Odysseus, man of exploits,
still eager to leave at once and hurry back
to your own home, your beloved native land?
Good luck to you, even so. Farewell!
But if you only knew, down deep, what pains
are fated to fill your cup before you reach that shore,
youd stay right here, preside in our house with me
and be immortal. Much as you long to see your wife,
the one you pine for all your days . . .
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Odysseus speaking with Achilles in the Underworld
2. But you, Achilles,
theres not a man in the world more blest than you
there never has been, never will be one.
Time was, when you were alive, we Argives
honored you as a god, and now down here, I see,
you lord it over the dead in all your power.
So grieve no more at dying, great Achilles.
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3. Of all that breathes and crawls across the earth,
our mother earth breeds nothing feebler than a man.
So long as the gods grant him power, spring in his knees,
he thinks he will never suffer affliction down the years.
But then, when the happy gods bring on the long hard times,
bear them he must, against his will, and steel his heart.
Our lives, our mood and mind as we pass across the earth,
turn as the days turn . . .

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