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Homer: Odyssey

1. The Man of Many Turns

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In this module, we think about the figure of Odysseus himself, focusing in particular on his status as a man 'of many turns' (Greek: polutropos), his various roles in the poem, and his different transformations – including his transformation into 'nobody' on the island of the Cyclopes.


In this course, Professor Barbara Graziosi (University of Durham) explores Homer's Odyssey. We begin by thinking about the figure of Odysseus himself, focusing in particular on his status as a man 'of many turns' (Greek: polutropos). After that, we provide a brief summary of the plot and structure of the poem, before turning in the third module to the workings of divine justice in the poem. In the fourth module, we think about Odysseus relationship with various women in the poem, focusing in particular on the importance of clothing, as well as the potential dangers of women – especially non-mortal women such as Circe or the Sirens. Finally, in the fifth module, we think about Odysseus' descent into the Underworld, thinking in particular about other literary journeys to the Underworld (Gilgamesh, Aeneas, Dante, etc.).


Barbara Graziosi is Professor in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at Durham University. Her primary interest is ancient Greek literature, and the way in which readers make it their own - 'the balance between the classical and the familiar', as Cesare Pavese put it. In her first book, Inventing Homer (Cambridge 2002), she argued that early stories about Homer tell us something important about the way archaic and classical audiences imagined the poet and understood his poetry. Her second book, written together with Johannes Haubold, explores the relationship between Homeric epic and wider Greek views about the cosmos and its history. After Homer: The Resonance of Epic (London 2005), she wrote a commentary on Iliad 6 for the Cambridge 'Green and Yellow' series, again with Johannes Haubold: Iliad 6: A Commentary (Cambridge 2010). She has also edited two volumes: Homer in the 20th Century: Between World Literature and the Western Canon (Oxford 2007), with Emily Greenwood, explores the place of Homer in the literary landscape of the twentieth century; The Oxford Handbook of Hellenic Studies, edited with George Boys-Stones and Phiroze Vasunia (Oxford 2009), was her attempt at getting a panoramic view of the field of Hellenic Studies.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Graziosi, B. (2018, August 15). Homer: Odyssey - The Man of Many Turns [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Graziosi, B. "Homer: Odyssey – The Man of Many Turns." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,

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