Odysseus Hero's Journey in Homer's Odyssey

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The Odyssey Heroic Journey

Example



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Activity Overview




Related to both plot diagram and types of literary conflict, the "Hero’s Journey" is a recurring pattern of stages many heroes undergo over the course of their stories. Joseph Campbell, an American mythologist, writer, and lecturer, articulated this cycle after researching and reviewing numerous myths and stories from a variety of time periods and regions of the world. He found that they all share fundamental principles. This spawned the Hero’s Journey, also known as the Monomyth. The most fundamental version has 12 steps, while more detailed versions can have up to 17.

Odysseus Hero's Journey Example

Stage Summary
Ordinary world King Odysseus is at home, in Ithaca, with his wife, Penelope, and newborn son, Telemachus.
Call to Adventure He sets out for a battle at Troy
Refusal He does not want to leave his family and sail to Troy; he knows it will be a long trip.
Mentor/Helper Athena, the goddess of wisdom, crafts, and war, is his guide. She wants to help Odysseus, though she has been instructed not to. She takes pity on him while other gods forsake the hero, continually saves him from death, and gives him guidance.
Cross the Threshold After the war, the gods become angry with the Greeks for their prideful ways. A great storm emerges and throws them off course.
Test/Allies/Enemies Odysseus is thwarted with many tests as he travels back to Ithaca:
  • Polyphemus
  • Circones
  • Lotus Eaters
  • Lastrygonians
  • Sirens
  • Scylla & Charybdis
  • Cattle of the Sun God
Approach Odysseus nearly makes it home, but his crew opens a bag, given to him by Aeolus, god of the winds When the bag is opened, it releases a wind that blows them far away from Ithaca.
Ordeal He travels to the underworld seeking information to guide him home. This quest brings him to the verge of death.
Reward The King of Phaeacia gives Odysseus passage home.
Road back Unlike other heroes, Odysseus was not in search of treasure. Instead, he was desperately trying to reach his home. Once he returns, he finds out that his house has been overrun with suitors attempting to steal his wife and palace.
Atonement Instead of rushing in and killing the suitors, Odysseus is patient. He wishes to learn if his wife has been faithful. With the help of his son and a loyal swineherd, he devises a plan. Athena disguises him as an old beggar so that he can enter his house undetected. Telemachus steals all the suitors’ weapons, and a final test is proposed. Penelope will marry the man who strings Odysseus' bow and shoots an arrow through a line of small circles; a seemingly impossible task.
Return Odysseus, still dressed as a beggar, completes the task and is restored to his original state. He and his son expel the suitors from their home by force. Penelope, seeing how her husband has changed, tests him to make sure it is actually him. She tells him she moved their bed. He replies, correctly, that this would have been impossible, and all is returned to normal.

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Student Instructions

Use the story of The Odyssey and map it to the narrative structure of the Hero's Journey.


  1. Depict and describe how the chosen character's story fits (or does not fit ) into each of the stages of the Hero's Journey.
  2. Finalize images, edit, and proofread your work.

TEMPLATE - HERO'S JOURNEY

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