The Great Wanderings

The Great Wanderings are the adventures that Odysseus recounts in Books 9-12 of The Odyssey. They include the following episodes:

  1. The Cicones (begins on p. 212)
  2. The Lotus Eaters (p. 214)
  3. Polyphemus the Cyclops (p.214)
  4. Aeolus, King of the Winds (p. 230)
  5. The Laestrygonians, Giants (p. 233)
  6. Circe (p. 234)
  7. (The Cimmerians and then) the Land of the Dead (p. 249)
  8. Back to Circe to bury Elpenor (p. 271)
  9. The Sirens (p. 276)
  10. Scylla and Charybdis (p. 273)
  11. Thrinacia and The Cattle of the Sun (p. 279)
  12. Back to Charybdis (p. 284)


Select one of the above episodes (BUT NOT THE CYCLOPS EPISODE) and write a 3–5 page essay organized according to the general outline below. Using details from the text,  carefully fashion and support an argument that addresses the following questions:

  • Intro and Thesis Statement: What is the most important lesson or item of information learned in this episode? (This could be something Odysseus learns, or it could be something you and other careful readers will learn.)
  • Paragraph or Part 1: What obstacles does Odysseus face in this episode? What challenges must he overcome? What is lost and what is gained in this episode?
  • Paragraph or Part 2: What virtues or heroic characteristics are valued in this episode? How is their value revealed? What is the most important lesson or item of information learned in this episode? What details from the text support your argument?
  • Paragraph or Part 3: How does the style of the passage support your argument? For example, are there epic similes, metaphors, patterns of expression, or curious phrases that illuminate the text and support your interpretation?
  • Paragraph or Part 4: How does this episode enhance the meaning or significance of other parts of The Odyssey? What themes does this episode uncover or enhance? What would be lost from The Odyssey if this episode were removed?
  • Conclusion
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