The Odyssey (Greek: Ὀδύσσεια, Odýsseia) is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second oldest extant work of Western literature, the Iliad being the oldest. It is believed to have been composed near the end of the 8th century BC, somewhere in Ionia, the Greek coastal region of Anatolia.
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The poem mainly centers on the Greek hero Odysseus (known as Ulysses in Roman myths) and his journey home after the fall of Troy. It takes Odysseus ten years to reach Ithaca after the ten-year Trojan War. In his absence, it is assumed he has died, and his wife Penelope and son Telemachus must deal with a group of unruly suitors, the Mnesteres (Greek: Μνηστῆρες) or Proci, who compete for Penelope's hand in marriage.
It continues to be read in the Homeric Greek and translated into modern languages around the world. Many scholars believe that the original poem was composed in an oral tradition by an aoidos (epic poet/singer), perhaps a rhapsode (professional performer), and was more likely intended to be heard than read. The details of the ancient oral performance, and the story's conversion to a written work inspire continual debate among scholars. The Odyssey was written in a poetic dialect of Greek—a literary amalgam of Aeolic Greek, Ionic Greek, and other Ancient Greek dialects—and comprises 12,110 lines of dactylic hexameter. Among the most noteworthy elements of the text are its non-linear plot, and the influence on events of choices made by women and serfs, besides the actions of fighting men. In the English language as well as many others, the word odyssey has come to refer to an epic voyage.
The Odyssey has a lost sequel, the Telegony, which was not written by Homer. It was usually attributed in Antiquity to Cinaethon of Sparta, but in one source was said to have been stolen from Musaeus by Eugamon or Eugammon of Cyrene.
Cyclops by Euripides, the only extant satyr play, retells the respective episode with a humorous twist.
True Story, written by Lucian of Samosata in the 2nd century AD, mentions the Odysseus of the Odyssey as the first to make up fantastical tales.
Some of the tales of Sinbad the Sailor from The Book of One Thousand and One Nights were taken from the Odyssey.
Merugud Uilix maicc Leirtis ("On the Wandering of Ulysses, son of Laertes") is an eccentric Old Irish version of the material; the work exists in a 12th-century AD manuscript that linguists believe is based on an 8th-century original.
Dante Alighieri has Odysseus append a new ending to the Odyssey in canto XXVI of the Inferno.
Il ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria, first performed in 1640, is an opera by Monteverdi based on the second half of Homer's Odyssey.
Every episode of James Joyce's modernist novel Ulysses (1922) has an assigned theme, technique and correspondences between its characters and those of Homer's Odyssey.
The first canto of Ezra Pound's The Cantos (1922) is both a translation and a retelling of Odysseus' journey to the underworld.
Nikos Kazantzakis aspires to continue the poem and explore more modern concerns in The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel (1938).
The 1954 Broadway musical The Golden Apple by librettist John Treville Latouche and composer Jerome Moross is freely adapted from the Iliad and the Odyssey, re-setting the action to the American state of Washington in the years after the Spanish-American War, with events inspired by the Iliad in Act One and events inspired by the Odyssey in Act Two.
In Jean-Luc Godard's film Le Mépris (1963), German film director Fritz Lang plays himself attempting to direct a film adaptation of the Odyssey.
The Japanese-French anime Ulysses 31 (1981) updates the ancient setting into a 31st-century space opera.
Omeros (1991), an epic poem by Derek Walcott, is in part a retelling of the Odyssey, set on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia.