Homer on Marriage and the Ideal Society | Newberry

Homer on Marriage and the Ideal Society

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

9:30 am to 12:30 pm

Dr. Tyson Hausdoerffer, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
Wait list only
Newberry Teachers' Consortium

The Odyssey is popularly thought of as one of the world’s greatest adventure stories, thanks to Odysseus’ famous encounters with the Lotus-Eaters, the cyclops, Circe, the Sirens, and others. Yet these encounters do not actually take place in the narrative present of the poem, and they only occupy four of The Odyssey’s twenty-four books. This would suggest that these folkloric, probably very traditional, adventures were not Homer’s primary interest. As happy as Homer must have been to include such entertaining elements in his monumental poem, his chief concern seems to have been to question contemporary assumptions about marriage and kingship and to offer a provocative vision of what constitutes the ideal society. In this seminar, we will explore that possibility by considering Homer’s portrayal of four societies and the couples who rule them: Pylos, ruled by Nestor and Eurydice; Sparta, ruled by Menelaus and Helen; Scheria, ruled by Alcinous and Arete; and of course Ithaca, ruled by Odysseus and Penelope. By redirecting our attention in this way, we can better understand the place of the famous adventures in the grand scheme of the poem and thus better appreciate the compelling unity of The Odyssey.

Cost and Registration Information 

Registration for all Newberry Teachers’ Consortium seminars opens September 4, 2014.

For NTC registration information, please contact Charlotte Ross at rossc@newberry.org.