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The Odyssey of Homer Lecture

The Odyssey of Homer

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Publisher's Summary

What is it in Homer's Odyssey that has so enthralled readers from around the world for thousands of years? By joining Professor Vandiver for these 12 lectures on the Odyssey, you'll find out why.

This literary exploration centers on a single provocative question about the epic poem's protagonist, Odysseus: Why does he long so powerfully to go home? To probe the depths of this question, you'll embark on meticulous, insightful examinations of the most important episodes in the Odyssey. In doing so, you'll understand the cultural assumptions that lie behind Homer's lines and the critical and interpretive issues involved in truly unpacking this ancient masterpiece.

Among the range of episodes, themes, and topics you'll explore are: Odysseus's superb skills as a rhetorician; the abrupt break in the text at the end of the "Great Wanderings" episode, when the poem briefly returns to the third-person narrative; Penelope's knowledge and motives as they relate to the inevitability of her suitors' doom; the effectiveness (or possible lack thereof) in the poem's ending; the historical basis for the Trojan War from which Odysseus returns; and more.

For anyone who's loved the stories of Odysseus's encounters with witches, monsters, and vengeful gods; for anyone who's longed to truly grasp the intricate nature of Homer's epic; or for anyone who has been looking for ways to approach a work that can often be intimidating to first-time readers, these lectures are an invaluable resource and a helpful introduction to the grandest adventure story in Western literature.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©1999 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)1999 The Great Courses

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Betsy Everett, MA, United States 10-20-13
    Betsy Everett, MA, United States 10-20-13 Member Since 2016
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    "Enjoyable"

    I really enjoyed both this and The Iliad. The professor is knowledgeable and fleshed out the story. But she retained the sense of wonder at the enormous achievement So much of Homeric studies have lost the amazement at wonder at an amazing work of literature by focusing too much on the mechanics of who and how.

    But it is very obvious that this and The Iliad were one course. She references back to things form the previous course and does not include the introductory lectures on Homer, which are necessary. And she refers to it as a Homer course. I did listen to The Iliad first so this was no loss for me but if you don't then you are losing something. More importantly a very obvious way to scam credits off of people by Audible.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deep Reader 01-14-14
    Deep Reader 01-14-14

    Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Another Great Course of a Greak Greek Classic"
    What did you like best about this story?

    The tragic adventures of Odysseus after the Trojan War takes him all over the place, and includes flashbacks for the parts of the Trojan War that happened after the Iliad, as well as his encounters with a Cyclops, a sorceress and divinities all over the place.


    What about Professor Elizabeth Vandiver’s performance did you like?

    Professor Elizabeth Vandiver is quickly becoming one of my favorite professors available through the Great Courses. She knows how to provide the structure the material deserves, while keeping it accessible.


    Any additional comments?

    If you decide to listen to this course, be sure to listen to the Iliad (same Professor) first to get the best experience. In a way, it could be considered a prerequisite.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tommy D'Angelo North Providence, RI United States 08-09-15
    Tommy D'Angelo North Providence, RI United States 08-09-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Overall engaging course but ending felt off"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Odyssey of Homer to be better than the print version?

    Pluses:
    • A great book-by-book summary of the events of the Odyssey
    • Frequent citing of examples of two common themes: 1- The definition of good and bad hospitality; 2- Odysseus’s craftiness at being able to read people and tailoring his message or approach based on the situation
    • The professor was easy to listen to (almost every sentence was easy to understand and there is an avoidance of flowery language that makes understanding difficult)

    Minuses:
    • The professor tended to explain the same point multiple times and seemed to repeat sentences (the point could’ve been made in less sentences)
    The ending of the course felt off for two reasons: 1- The last lecture seems somewhat out of place and probably would fit better in the Iliad course; 2- The course seemed to be missing concluding thoughts/final analysis of the work or its literary themes


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David I. Williams Keithville, LA, United States 05-06-15
    David I. Williams Keithville, LA, United States 05-06-15 Member Since 2007
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    "Wonderful overview"

    Dr. Vandiver gives an excellent overview of the story of the Odyssey and the world of Homer. I highly recommend this for anyone who is interested in the subject. I've studied Homer at the undergraduate and the graduate level and still found wonderful insights.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen M Boston, MA 11-04-14
    Karen M Boston, MA 11-04-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Excellent course"
    What did you love best about The Odyssey of Homer?

    As usual, Vandiver rocked it. I cannot imagine reading such great works as the Iliad and the Odyssey without her courses. Her lecture on the Odyssey once again gave vital context to the epic story, helping me to have a deeper, richer experience with it. The Odyssey is an amazing story, and understanding its underpinnings with the help of a Classics scholar is a true gift. Any writer craves, even at a deep unconscious level, to crawl back to the origins of story...the glorious archetypes that are the deeply buried skeletons beneath the flesh of our own ideas...to understand them and let their power awaken in us. Vandiver peels back every layer and helps us to see every shimmering dimension.


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stef 02-28-16
    Stef 02-28-16
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    "Very informative"

    Helpful, broad, descriptive. Gives a in-depth explanation of the odyssey with out dumbing it down or just one narrow perspective.
    Great listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Raymond 03-27-15
    Raymond 03-27-15
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    "OohRah Dr. Vandiver! You ROCK!"

    If ancient or classical studies get better than this Lady I'll buy it in a heartbeat. This is my 4th of her courses and reading the Iliad or Odyssey without Dr. Vandiver's insights is like going out naked and unarmed. Buy it, use the credit. Chapter 12 alone is worth the entire price.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. J. Christensen Tucson, AZ. 02-17-16
    M. J. Christensen Tucson, AZ. 02-17-16 Member Since 2011
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    "Understanding The Odyssey"

    Professor Vandiver gives another great series of lectures that enhanced my understanding and appreciation of the Odyssey. Her enthusiasm and love of classic literature is catching, and after listening to these twelve lectures, I wanted to reread both The Iliad and The Odyssey. In the last lecture, she tells of the archaeologists' search for Troy. The only thing I wish she had talked about was the many different translations and their differences. I would have liked her expert opinion as to which translation she thinks is the best. But this was a credit well worth spending and something I will listen to again.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Audible Fan Manhattan, KS 11-29-15
    Audible Fan Manhattan, KS 11-29-15 Member Since 2014

    Teacher, Learner, Parent, Spouse

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    "Very Useful!"

    I really enjoyed listening to both The Illiad and The Odyssey of Homer. It is very obvious that Professor Vandiver knows a lot about these pieces of work. She starts the series off with background information about Homer. After that, each lecture focuses on 1-2 "books" of the epics. Each book is well-analyzed and connects seamlessly with the next lecture. I am a teacher and I used a lot of the information presented in my classes and the students have all responded positively to the information.

    I listen to audiobooks on my commute to and from work. At first, I thought it was a little hard to follow along with the lecture because Professor Vandiver speaks really fast (I'm also a fast talker), but I quickly grew accustomed to her speed and cadence. I ended up enjoying each lecture very much and can still hear her voice in my head as I think back on the information.

    Overall, I definitely recommend this audiobook, along with The Illiad.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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