The Odyssey -- Gathering Background Information

Research Process


Look for your assigned topic below and begin your research!

(By all means, you do not need to use every source I have listed. I have often listed multiple sources for the same topic because you might find that one is better than another or that they each have some facts that another did not, but don't overwhelm yourself trying to read everything!)

TAKE NOTES on what you learn from this research. Resist the temptation to copy anything down word for word or print anything out. When you teach this to your group-mates, you need to explain everything in your own words. Do not just read them what you found online or they might as well have just looked it up on their own!

When you are finished with your own research and notes, use the handout attached below (in .doc or .pdf format) to take notes when your group-mates present their topics.


Guiding Questions:
  • What is an epic?
  • How did epics reflect cultural values?
  • How were epics told?
  • What was it like to hear a live performance?
  • Why was repetition important?
  • What is a Homeric or Epic Simile and why were these used?
  • Describe some epic conventions

Homer, The Iliad, & The Odyssey

Guiding Questions:
  • Who was Homer?
  • What is The Iliad about? (summarize the story)
  • What is The Odyssey about? (summary)
  • How are The Iliad & The Odyssey similar and different?
  • What is the history behind the Trojan War? (mythological & archeological)




Trojan War:

Greek Mythology

Guiding Questions:
  • How did Greek Myths start?/Why were they created?
  • How did the Greeks worship?
  • Who are the Titans?
  • Who are the Olympians?
  • How did the Olympians overthrow the Titans?
  • Explain the roles of Zeus, Athena, Poseidon, Hermes
  • What are nymphs? Sirens? Cyclopes?
  • What is the Underworld?


Olympian Gods

Olympian Goddesses

Greek Heroes & Odysseus

Guiding Questions:
  • In Greek mythology, what attributes made someone a hero?
  • Who is Odysseus?
  • How was Odysseus different from other Heroes?
  • Before the Trojan War, what did he do to try to avoid going to war, and how did he end up going to war anyway?

Ancient Greek Culture
REMEMBER: THE ODYSSEY IS SET IN A TIME PERIOD LONG BEFORE HOMER AND THE TIME WHEN THE STORIES WERE WRITTEN DOWN. In your research on ancient Greece, try to focus as much as possible on the time period that The Odyssey was set in, not confusing it with other periods. However, you may also include some information on Homer's time period. For a timeline of the different periods, see the bottom of this page.
  • Describe the importance of travel and trade in ancient Greece.
  • Explain about ancient Greek colonies.
  • What kind of government did Greece have in the time that The Odyssey  is set in?
  • What was the social structure like in the time of The Odyssey?
  • What kind of weapons, clothing, and musical instruments did ancient Greeks use?
  • How did the culture of Odysseusís time period (Bronze or Dark age) differ from the culture of Homerís time period (Archaic period) or the Classical period?
Culture in General:

Travel & Trade:


Government & Social Structure:

For a timeline of the different periods: http://academic.reed.edu/humanities/110tech/iliad.html

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