The Odyssey Lesson Plans

The Odyssey by Homer is an epic poem that has survived thousands of years! It is the story of Odysseus, the crafty king of Ithaca, whose idea for the Trojan Horse helped win the war with Troy. Following his victory in Troy, he encounters many trials that delay him from reaching his home, Ithaca, and his queen, Penelope. Odysseus' Hero's Journey is a long and arduous adventure filled with peril, temptation, and wits.

Student Activities for The Odyssey

Essential Questions for The Odyssey

  1. What makes a hero?
  2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of immortality?
  3. How has the concept of a hero changed over decades? Over centuries?
  4. How does an epic differ from other works of literature?

The Odyssey Summary

Homer's Odyssey is one of the oldest and best-known works of literature. Taking place after the fall of Troy, the hero, Odysseus, is shipwrecked at sea with the gods against him. As he struggles to return home to Ithaca, he makes his journeys through many lands and overcomes many obstacles. Aided by Athena, Odysseus is guided through the lotus eaters, and Circe’s island, past Polyphemus the Cyclops, through the land of the dead, off the Sun god's island, and back to Ithaca.

His homecoming is not easy. In his absence, his home was overtaken by suitors who ravage his home, land, and compete for his wife’s hand in marriage. Believing that Odysseus is dead, the suitors force his wife, Penelope, to choose one of them to marry. She devises a plan to stall them while her son is out in search of her husband. She promises to choose a suitor once she finishes weaving a tapestry in her husband's honor, but, unbeknownst to the suitors, she pulls the weaving apart each night so she never makes progress.

When Odysseus arrives home, Athena disguises him as an old beggar so he may enter his home undetected. With the help of his son, Telemachus, and a faithful swineherd, they devise a plan to take his home back. Through a series of tests, Odysseus proves his strength and defeats the suitors.

Where would heroic tales be if it weren't for the Greeks' epic poetry? The word epic, is even derived from the Greek word for poetry: epikos. Homer, the author of The Odyssey, pioneered Greek epics. The poem itself, a story of love, adventure, war, and gods, is a classic that paved the way for all adventure writing to come.

Other Activity Ideas for The Odyssey

  1. Tell the story from Telemachus or Penelope's point of view.
  2. Create an alternate ending to the epic with a storyboard.
  3. Show steps or mistakes that led our hero further from home.
  4. Make a storyboard depicting some crazy and epic epithets!

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