A Complicated Man: Charismatic Odysseus

"You too have been spellbound by magical voices, sweet voices with strange melodies. . . . You have angered people you should not have."

Thus Bob Dylan explains (in his 2016 Nobel Prize Lecture) how the Homeric Odyssey inspires his own bardic compositions. In this seminar, we will consider what the Odyssey enacts and what it teaches us about the spellbinding power of a well-told tale. We will pay particular attention to Odysseus' own storytelling in Books 9-12, which contains perhaps the most famous - and most unbelievable - of Odysseus' adventures. In this portion of the epic, Odysseus recounts his own fantastic exploits to the Phaiakians, a people renowned for their hostility to strangers. Odysseus cannot reach home without their help. His tales are the only payment he can offer for his safe passage back to Ithaka - and the singular means of persuasion to effect his homecoming.