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Homer: Odyssey

4. Nostos

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About this Lecture


In this lecture, we explore the concept of 'nostos' in the Odyssey, the Greek term which means 'return' or 'homecoming'. The concept of 'nostos' appears in various forms in the poem: first, there is the physical nostos, most notably that of Odysseus himself, but also of various other characters in the poem; second, there is the use of 'nostos' in similes, especially at moment of recognitiion; and thirdly, there is the use of 'nostos' as a metaphor for one's journey through life.


In this course, we discuss four key themes in Homer's Odyssey. In the first module, we concentrate on the concept of oral poetry - the idea that the Odyssey was not originally written down, but passed orally from generation to generation - and the impact the poem's unique origin on its final, written form. In the second module, we explore the theme of the Homeric hero, arguing that Odysseus represents a totally different kind of hero to that seen in the Iliad. In the third module, we turn our attention to the concept of 'hospitality' or 'guest-friendship' - the Greek concept of 'xenia', while in the fourth and final module, we explore the theme of 'homecoming' in the poem.


Edith Hall is Professor in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at Durham University. Her research focuses on ancient Greek literature and cultural history. Some of her major publications include Inventing the Barbarian: Greek Self-Definition through Tragedy (OUP, 1989), Greek Tragedy: Suffering Under the Sun (OUP, 2010), Introducing the Ancient Greeks: From Bronze Age Seafarers to Navigators of the Western Mind (Norton, 2014), and Aristotle's Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life (Penguin, 2020).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Hall, E. (2018, August 15). Homer: Odyssey - Nostos [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Hall, E. "Homer: Odyssey – Nostos." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,