CNES 1913: Homer's Odyssey and Politics

Homer's Odyssey is the story of a man who returns from war to find a world much different from the one he left ten years earlier - and one that seems to have no place for him. On his way home, he lies to some, robs and murders others and, arguably through his own negligence, loses all his men. Once back on his native island of Ithaca, he re-establishes his authority as local strong-man through a mass killing of rivals. He is nonetheless emphatically a "hero" and the moral and political center of the story: what Odysseus does is (in the storyteller's eyes, and those of most readers ever since) right and just. This seminar will use a close reading of the Odyssey, a study of Season One of the Netflix series House of Cards and of selections from Robert Caro's biography of Lyndon Johnson, and extensive discussion of contemporary political and social events, to ask what sort of political and social world Homer's poem imagines; how it formulates and discusses power and justice; how it encourages its audience to accept judgments about human behavior and "what is right" that may, upon reflection, seem horrifying; and what we are to make of this today.

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B Average (3.153)Most Common: B+ (21%)

This total also includes data from semesters with unknown instructors.

78 students
NWFDCBA
  • 4.19

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    Recommend
  • 4.14

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    Effort
  • 4.46

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    Understanding
  • 4.26

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    Interesting
  • 4.14

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