Radcliffe G. Edmonds III

Office: Thomas 245

Office Phone: 526-5046

Carpenter 13

MWF 1:00-2:00

Office Hours: MWF 2:30-3:30

or by appointment


Required Texts:

Homer, Odyssey I-XII — Edition and Commentary by W. B. Stanford

Homer, Odyssey I, VI, IX — Bryn Mawr Commentary by Beth Severy

Homer, The Odyssey — translated by Robert Fagles

Course Description:

Greek 104 is designed to introduce the student to the epic poetry attributed to Homer, the greatest poet of ancient Greece, through selections from the Odyssey. Since Homer's poetic form is so important to the shape and texture of the Odyssey, we will examine the mechanics of Homeric poetry, both the intricacies of dactylic hexameter and the patterns of oral formulaic composition. We will practice scansion of the Homeric line as well as keep watch for the use and manipulation of traditional formulae. We will also spend time discussing the characters and ideas that animate this text, since the value of Homer lies not merely in his incomparable mastery of his poetic form, but in the values and patterns of behavior in his story, patterns which remained remarkably influential in the Greek world for centuries. Within the poem, we will explore the parts played by gods and mortals, men and women, adults and children, heroes and ordinary folk, reflecting on how these roles help to illustrate the poet's world.

The power and influence of Homeric poetry were felt throughout Greek civilization and beyond. Plato tells us that there were "encomiasts of Homer who tell us that this poet has been the educator of Hellas, and that for the conduct and refinement of human life he is worthy of our study and devotion, and that we should order our entire lives by the guidance of this poet," and, although he concedes that Homer is the most poetic of poets, he finds his poetry so bewitching and influential that it must be banned. Countless others for millennia have fallen under the spell of Homer's poetry, and many a reader who has come to Homer for the first time has, like Keats, "felt like some watcher of the skies|When a new planet swims into his ken;|Or like stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes|He stared at the Pacific–and all his men|Looked at each other with a wild surmise–|Silent, upon a peak in Darien."

Course Requirements:

Class participation:

Participation, of course, includes attendance, since you cannot participate if you are not in class. If, for some reason, you cannot attend class, please inform me in advance. In each class session, we will translate aloud from the portions of the text assigned for the week. Please be prepared to translate or scan any of the readings specified in the previous class session. If, for some reason, you cannot prepare for class, please attend anyway - you will be better prepared for the next class.


There will be a short (10 minute) quiz every Monday on the material covered in the previous week. One quiz may be missed without penalty, but there are no make-up quizzes. If no quiz is missed, the lowest quiz grade may be dropped. The quizzes are intended to ensure that you keep up with the readings and give you further practice to build your Greek syntax and vocabulary.


There will be a mid-term and a final for this class on all the materials covered to that date in class. The Midterm will be in class on the Monday before the Spring break. The Final Exam will be self-scheduled during Exam Week. Both the Midterm and the Final will include short essays dealing with the themes discussed in the works as well as passages for translation and scansion.

Grade Distribution:


Week I — 1/22 — 26

Week II — 1/29 — 2/2

Week III — 2/5 — 9

Week IV — 2/12 — 16

Week V — 2/19 — 23

Week VI — 2/26 — 3/2

Week VII — 3/5 — 9

Week VIII — 3/12 — 16 Spring Break

Week IX — 3/19 — 23

Week X — 3/26 — 3/30

Week XI — 4/2 — 6

Week XII — 4/9 —13

Week XIII — 4/16 — 20

Week XIV — 4/23 — 27

Week XV — 4/30 — 5/4

Exam Week — 5/7 — 18

This syllabus is accessible online at:

Updates and revisions of the syllabus will be posted online.