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The Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is one of the oldest extant works of literature still widely read by modern audiences. As with the Iliad, the poem is divided into 24 books. It follows the Greek hero Odysseus, king of Ithaca, and his journey home after the Trojan War. After the war itself, which lasted ten years, his journey lasted for ten additional years, during which time he encountered many perils and all his crew mates were killed. In his absence, Odysseus was assumed dead, and his wife Penelope and son Telemachus had to contend with a group of unruly suitors who were competing for Penelope’s hand in marriage.
The Odyssey was originally composed in Homeric Greek in around the 8th or 7th century BCE and, by the mid-6th century BCE, had become part of the Greek literary canon. In antiquity, Homer’s authorship of the poem was not questioned, but contemporary scholarship predominantly assumes that the Iliad and the Odyssey were composed independently, and the stories themselves formed as part of a long oral tradition. Given widespread illiteracy, the poem was performed by an aoidos or rhapsode, and more likely to be heard than read.

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