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Answer the call of the Sirens and discover the adventure and intelligence that has made Homer's Odyssey one of the foundations of Western storytelling.
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Encountering Homer’s Odyssey
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Mar. 17-May 25, 2003

10 Weeks
Tuition: $249.00
Materials $39.95
Course Author: Richard Martin, Antony and Isabelle Raubitschek Professor of Classics, Stanford University Profile >

Online Instructor: Jack Mitchell Profile >
Course Description
Take a Tour This course explores the timeless values of heroism, magnanimity, and love that are at the core of Homer’s Odyssey. Students will discover The Odyssey’s context within ancient Greek culture, its medium—that of oral-traditional poetic performance—and its messages for a modern listener. Homer’s Odyssey is more than a mere primitive fantasy. This highly literary masterpiece forces the reader to wrestle with profound personal, social and political issues: identity, ethical behavior, justice, the importance of home and family, the relationship of survival to self-defense and aggression, the proper use of language, and the role of the divine in human life. Like a friend, the voice behind the poem gently moves readers to pay attention to their own circumstances, which turn out to be not so distant from those in the archaic world.
Course Activities
Readings and lectures.
During this ten-week-long course, students view CD-ROM–based presentations of portions of The Odyssey and experience Homer as the people of ancient Greece did in their time-as a spoken phenomenon. Students will also read from the assigned text and watch inaugural and concluding lectures by Professor Martin online. Each week, students will be asked to consider a series of questions or exercises designed to stimulate online discussion.
Online discussion.
Students are encouraged to participate in an ongoing online discussion using the course discussion board. In this discussion forum, participants can offer thoughtful responses to readings, debate with one another over the meaning of the texts, and receive guidance and feedback from the online instructor. Students participate by posting and reading comments at any time during the week.
Live chat.
Live chat is the natural complement to course discussions. Hosted by the online instructor, these regularly held, hour-long online sessions bring the class together in a lively and informal setting, in real time. Chats take place at varying times to accommodate different time zones and schedules. As a result, students may not be able to attend all the chats; however, transcripts of each session will be posted for later review.
Time commitment.
Students may expect to spend 4 to 6 hours per week on course-related activities: 2 hours completing the reading assignments (50 pp.) and exercises, 1 to 2 hours viewing the video lectures and CD-ROM–based presentations, and 1 to 2 hours participating in online discussion and live chat.
Course Outline

Week 1: Orientation and Introduction
Week 2: Homer’s Odyssey and the Oral Tradition
Week 3: Song: The Kikones and the Lotos Eaters
Week 4: Justice: The Cyclops’ Cave
Week 5: Clothing: Aiolos and the Laestrygonians
Week 6: Cunning Intelligence: Circe’s Island
Week 7: Hospitality: Descent to the Underworld
Week 8: Strong Women: The Sirens and Scylla and Charybdis
Week 9: Divine Intervention: The Island of Helios
Week 10: Homecoming: Calypso’s Island
Course Materials
The following materials will be sent to all enrolled students:
Homer. The Odyssey. Translated by Stanley Lombardo. Indianapolis: Hackett, 2000.
CD-ROM of complete seminar program and resources.
Course guidebook with background, key points, and weekly assignments.
The following materials will be available online:
Streaming video of inaugural and concluding on-campus lectures.
Technical Requirements
A DSL, cable modem, or similar high-speed connection is recommended for some of the material used in this course. While many of the course activities are available to users on dial-up connections, viewing some of the rich media elements of the course will be most rewarding over a higher speed connection.
Course Author Profile
Richard P. Martin holds the Antony and Isabelle Raubitschek Chair of Classics at Stanford University. A native of Boston, he earned his degrees at Harvard University (A.B. 1976, classics and Celtic languages; Ph.D. 1981, classical philology). From 1981 until 1999 he taught classics at Princeton University as assistant, associate, and full professor. He began teaching at Stanford in January 2000. Professor Martin specializes in Greek poetry of the archaic and classical periods (800-400 B.C.E.), with an emphasis on Homeric epic. He is the author of Healing, Sacrifice and Battle: Amjchania and Related Concepts in Early Greek Poetry (Innsbruck 1983) and of The Language of Heroes: Speech and Performance in the Iliad (Cornell Univ. Press 1989). Among his other publications are a revised and annotated edition of Bulfinch's Mythology (HarperCollins, 1991) and a number of articles on Greek literature, myth, and religion. His retelling and explication of Greek myths, Word from the Muse, is due out in August 2002 from Penguin Books. He is currently at work on a book about the Odyssey (The Last Hero Song) and a screenplay of the Iliad.

Online Instructor Profile
Day-to-day and week-by-week course activities will be facilitated by Jack Mitchell. He will maintain discussion boards and coordinate the overall course experience.

Jack Mitchell (B.A., McGill University) is a student of Homeric poetry at Stanford University, where he is currently in the graduate program in Classics. He is the author of "Theoclymenus and the Poetics of Disbelief: Prophecy and Its Audience in the Odyssey" (in Homer In and Out, forthcoming from Lexington Books). As the composer and performer of a modern epic poem about Canadian history entitled The Plains of Abraham, he has appeared on CBC Radio's *As It Happens* and been featured in The Financial Post.


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