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edX MOOC: Masterpieces of World Literature – III Homer and The Odyssey

Notes for Masterpieces of World Literature (or Ancient Masterpieces of World Literature and Modern Masterpieces of World Literature) by David Damrosch and Martin Puchner from HarvardX: HUM12x on edX.

Duration: 13 weeks

Course Outline

  1. Goethe and the Birth of World Literature
  2. The Birth of Literature: The Epic of Gilgamesh
  3. Homer and the Archeology of the Classical Past: The Odyssey
  4. West-Eastern Conversations: The Thousand and One Nights
  5. The Floating World: The Tale of Genji
  6. The First National Epic: The Lusiads
  7. Enlightenment in the Colonies: Candide
  8. China and Its Neighbors: Lu Xun and Eileen Chang, selected stories (A Madman’s Diary and Sealed Off)
  9. Inventing Latin America: Jorge Luis Borges, Ficciones
  10. From Empire to Globe: Wole Soyinka, Death and the King’s Horseman
  11. East-West Encounters: Salman Rushdie, East, West; Jhumpa Lahiri, The Interpreter of Maladies
  12. Istanbul in – or as – the World: Orhan Pamuk, My Name Is Red
  13. World Literature Today



Homer and the Archeology of the Classical Past: The Odyssey

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  • Characters in the Odyssey (Wikipedia)
  • Ὀδυσσεύς
  • Τηλέμαχος
  • Πηνελόπη
  • Ναυσικάα – She is the daughter of King Αλκίνοος and Queen Arete of Phaeacia. Her name, in Greek, means “burner of ships” (ναῦς: ship; κάω: to burn). The first person in literature to be described playing with a ball.
  • Καλυψώ
    The story of Odysseus and Calypso has some close resemblances to the interactions between Gilgamesh and Siduri in the Epic of Gilgamesh in that “the lone female plies the inconsolable hero-wanderer with drink and sends him off to a place beyond the sea reserved for a special class of honoured people” and “to prepare for the voyage he has to cut down and trim timbers.
  • Κίρκη
  • Πολύφημος


You will find the scene of Odysseus’s wanderings when you find the cobbler who sewed up the bag of winds. (Strabo 1.2.15, quoted by Moses I. Finley, The World of Odysseus)







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