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HOMERIC EPITHETS

IN “THE ODYSSEY”
PINKY MARIEL G. MANGAYA
Discussant
Homer's ''Iliad'' and
''Odyssey'' have shaped
the literary imagination
of generations.
Throughout these vast
works, people, places,
and things are
characterized with
distinctive compound
adjectives, known as
Homeric epithets.
The epic poems of Homer were first sung, even before they were
written down two millennia ago. The fact that they were meant to be
experienced through hearing meant that repeated words, or combinations of
words, were a way of holding listeners' attention and creating consistent
characterization. Epithets are simply words characteristically attached to
people (or things!) as descriptors. Homeric epithets are used strategically.
The naming of important people, places, and things in the poems thus
becomes a motif, providing familiarity for listeners and readers
experiencing a vast poetic narrative.
Homer wrote the Odyssey in a
poetical meter called dactylic
hexameter. This means that there
are six metrical units, or feet, in
each line. Homer uses the various
colorful epithets to fit in with the
meter's rhythm. So, for example,
when he refers to Odyssey as "a
man of many schemes" or "much
enduring," he isn't simply making
reference to Odysseus's character;
he's also paying close attention to
how the lines of the epic poems
should be read.
ATHENA grey-
eyed goddess;
daughter of Zeus;
sprang from Zeus'
head fully grown
and wearing armor;
goddess of warfare
CHARYBDIS
dangerous
whirlpool over
which
Odysseus must
navigate
CIRCE goddess;
daughter of Helios
the sun-god; turns
half of Odysseus'
companions into
swine; Odysseus
spends one year with
her
HELEN daughter
of Zeus and Leda;
sister of
Clytemnestra;
wife of Menelaus;
most beautiful
woman in the
world; kidnapped
by Paris causes the
Trojan War
CALYPSO nymph;
keeps Odysseus on her
island for 7 years;
wants him to be her
immortal husband;
orders delivered by
Hermes from Zeus to
release Odysseus
CASSANDRA given
the gift of prophecy;
cursed by Apollo for
not returning his love;
raped by Ajax while
praying to Athena at a
temple
EUMAOIS
Odysseus' loyal
swineherd;
Odysseus visits
the swineherd's
hut and receives
xenia from him;
Odysseus blesses
him
EURYKLEIA
Odysseus' nurse from
his childhood; she
recognizes the boar
wound on Odysseus'
thigh; will identify the
disloyal maids whom
Telemachus will hang
CALLIOPE muse of
epic poetry
MENELAUS red-
haired king; brother
of Agamemnon;
husband of Helen;
visits Proteus to
learn news of
Odysseus; shows
xenia to Telemachus
NAUSIKAA girl of
the pretty braids;
daughter of King
Alcinous and Queen
Arete; welcomes
Odysseus to the island
of the Phaiechaians;
shows xenia
NESTOR lives on
Pylos; friend of
Odysseus; welcomes
Telemachus; sends
Telemachus with
Nestor's son
Peisistratus to visit
Menelaus on Sparta
ODYSSEUS man
skilled in all ways
contending; master of
land ways and sea
ways; patient hero;
husband of Penelope;
father of Telemachus;
polymetis
PENELOPE wife of
Odysseus; mother of
Telemachus; skilled in
weaving; suggests the
axe contest with
Eurytos' bow as a
means of choosing a
husband
POSEIDON brother
of Zeus; angered by
Odysseus' poking out
the eye of Poseidon's
son Polyphemus;
turns the Phaiechian
ship to stone when
Odysseus arrives on
Ithaca
SCYLLA six-
headed, human-
devouring monster;
Odysseus sacrifices
men to her on his
way to Helios'
island
TEIRESIAS in
the nekuia, the
The ban prophet
that Odysseus
consults about
his future
TELEMACHUS
son of Odysseus and
Penelope; travels to
visit Nestor and
Menelaus; forgets to
lock the storeroom
with the suitors'
weapons
ZEUS ruler of the
Olympian gods; father
of Athena; patron of
justice, suppliants, and
xenia; King of the gods
who prefers to remain
neutral in the war but
intervenes after a plea
for help.
PHILOTIOS
Odysseus' cowherd,
who is loyal to his
master; fights with
Odysseus and
Telemachus to defeat
the suitors
HERMES Is the
messenger of the gods.
He gave Odysseus a
magical herb Moly to
protect him from
Circe’s witchery and he
convinced Calypso to
let him off from her
island
HELIOS God
of the sun.
Odysseus’ men
upset him when
they eat his
cattle on his
island
References:

Hamilton, E.(2001). Mythology Timeless Tales of Gods and


Heroes. New York
https://study.com/academy/lesson/greek-mythology-litera
ture-books-characteristics.html
www.warnerbooks.com
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