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Recorded HS
The Odyssey by Homer

Register today to learn why Prof. Joseph Pearce says that Homer is at the foundation of Western Civilization. Homer is arguably, with the possible exception of Dante and Shakespeare, the greatest writer that Western Civilization has produced.

Total Classes: 6

Duration per class: 55 minutes

Prerequisite: The ability to understand and enjoy the book

Suggested Grade Level: 9th to 12th grade

Suggested Credit: 1/2 semester Literature or English. Add a writing course for a full semester of English.


Homer is at the foundation of Western Civilization and is arguably, with the possible exception of Dante and Shakespeare, the greatest writer that Western Civilization has produced. Professor Pearce will guide us through Homer’s classic work, examining the ways in which its moral vision harmonizes with that of Christianity, offering timeless insights into the human condition.


Week One: Books I-IV: Recklessness and self-destruction; the will of Zeus; Penelope besieged; the impotence of Telemachos; the metaphor of the burial shroud; the unworthy suitors; Agamemnon’s death; the pious wisdom of Menelaos; Helen and the madness of Aphrodite; Menelaos the prophet; the pride of Aias punished; Agamemnon’s murder as metaphor; the piety of Penelope.

Week Two: Books V-VIII: The will of Zeus; Odysseus rejects immortality; Odysseus’ naked trust in the gods; naked innocence, piety and prayer; the wisdom of Alkinoös; Homer’s self-portrait?; a theology of grace; Odysseus’ martial prowess; a parable on adultery; forgiveness and reconciliation; a chaste love; Odysseus weeps for Troy;

Week Three: Books IX-XII: Back to the Beginning; Odysseus the pirate; the Lotus-Eaters; the Cyclopes; Nobody wins but Somebody loses; the curse of Polyphemos; ruined by their own folly; Circe and more ruinous folly; voyage to the land of the Dead; Teiresias the prophet; Antikleia dies of a broken heart; the Dead as Shadows; the sins and virtues of women; the judgment of the dead; Sirens; Skylla and Charybdis; the cattle of Helios; arrives at Ogygia.

Week Four: Books XIII-XVI: A prayer for families; home alone; enduring grief in silence; xenia and loyalty; Helen’s prophecy; the humility of Odysseus; Odysseus’ Passion.

Week Five: Books XVII-XX: Odysseus the beggar in his own house; refusing the beggar his own food; Penelope’s prayer for the beggar; the piety of Odysseus; Penelope’s modesty; Penelope’s beguiling enchantment; Penelope and Odysseus; the contest of the bow proposed; Penelope’s profound love for Odysseus.

Week Six: Books XXI-XXIV: Penelope announces the contest of the bow; Telemachos comes of age; Penelope rebukes the suitors; Penelope sent away; Odysseus strings and shoots the bow; Homer spares himself; suitors killed “by their own recklessness”; immoral women punished; Penelope and Odysseus speak as one; Penelope as anti-Helen; marriage “till death do us part”; Penelope as anti-Helen reiterated; Odysseus reunited with his father; the gods as the bringers of peace.

Materials and Homework

Course MaterialsThe Odyssey by Homer. Make sure to obtain the Richmond Lattimore translation, Harper Perennial edition, ISBN #0-06-093195-7, https://amzn.to/3mwnCQG

Homework: Homework entails daily reading and weekly quizzes (90 minutes)

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