Elements of an epic

By: Anna Gautney

Plot centers around a Hero of Unbelievable Stature.

Odysseus is the Hero of this story. He goes through many trials on his way home. He saves his wife from the suitors.

Involves deeds of superhuman strength and valor.

Odysseus is seen as having superhuman strength and valor because he killed 100 men in the palace.

Vast Setting.

Odysseus traveled to lots of places on his journey back home. He traveled the oceans and seas. He and his men explored many different places.

Involves supernatural and/or otherworldly forces.

Odysseus encountered many gods all through his trip back home. He encountered Athena and Circe.

Sustained elevation of style.

Throughout The Odyssey, Homer has maintained a certain level of style. There are many Homeric similes all throughout the story. Homer uses Homeric similes to give great discription to something that would otherwise be seen as "unimportant". An example of a Homeric simile from the Odyssey:

I drew it from the coals and my four fellows

330 gave me a hand, lugging it near the Cyclops

as more than natural force nerved them; straight

forward they sprinted, lifted it, and rammed it

deep in his crater eye, and leaned on it

turning it as a shipwright turns a drill

335 in planking, having men below to swing

the two-handled strap that spins it in the groove.

So with our brand we bored (31) that great eye socket

while blood ran out around the red-hot bar.

Eyelid and lash were seared; the pierced ball

340 hissed broiling, and the roots popped.

Poet remains objective and omniscient.

The narrator displays the character quality of knowing everything throughout the story. Odysseus acts like he knows everything, costing him some of his men's lives. This was the case when Odysseus and his strongest men went to the cave of the cyclopes. He was very rude to the cyclopes, so the cyclopes ate most of his men.

The Hero's Journey


The Call to Adventure

Odysseus's call to adventure was the Trojan War. He had to leave his homeland to fight.

Refusal to the Call

Odysseus might have refused to go to fight in troy because his first born son had just been born.

Supernatural Aid

Many of the gods played roles in The Odyssey. The Gods were mad at Odysseus and led him astray for ten years. Athena played the largest role among the rest of the gods. Athena helped Odysseus get home.

The Crossing of the First Threshold

The Crossing of the First Threshold was the Trojan War. The Trojan War was the first event to happen in the story.

The Belly of the Whale

Odysseus was blown off coarse by a big storm, forcing him to be lost at sea.


The Road of Trials

Odysseus faced many trials throughout his trip back home. He faced the Cyclopes and the Sirens. He faced the Lotus Eaters and many more challenges.

The Meeting with the Goddess

The goddesses that Odysseus encountered were Circe and Athena. Circe and Athena helped Odysseus and his crew on their way back home.

Woman as Temptress

Calypso can be seen as Odysseus's temptress. Calypso keeps Odysseus and his men on her island, although Odysseus never is never truly swayed by her.

Atonement with the Father

Odysseus has plenty of time to think about all his past actions while on Calypso's island. He thinks about his past mistakes and the gods forgive him and help him home.


Odysseus's apotheosis was with the Phaeacians. He had plenty of time to rest while with them.

The Ultimate Boon

All Odysseus wants is to get home. The Ultimate Boon in this story is Odysseus's arrival home.

The Return

Refusal of the Return

Refusal of the Return is one of the very few parts of the hero's journey that does not fit The Odyssey very well. All Odysseus longs for is to get home. Odysseus's men, however, want to stay on the island with the lotus eaters.

The Magical Flight

The Magical Flight is another example of a part that does not exactly fit into The Odyssey. The Magical flight leans towards escaping with the boon, but since the boon was a place instead of a person or thing, it was not possible.

Rescue from Without

Athena gave Odysseus some special help in getting back home and keeping him out harm. She disguised him as a beggar so no one would recognize him until the moment was right.

The Crossing of the Return Threshold

The Crossing of the Return Threshold step is defined as the hero returning with the wisdom that he gained on his quest and putting it to good use. Odysseus puts his new knowledge to good use. Instead of raiding the palace and killing all the suitors as soon as he gets there, like he really wants to, he is patient and waits until the time is right.

Master of Two Worlds

This step is usually represented by a transcendental hero like Jesus or Buddha. In The Odyssey, Odysseys is the master of two worlds. He is the king of Ithaca and has gained the trust of the gods.

Freedom to Live

Now that Odysseus is home and at peace with the gods and his family, he is free to live his life, but with a few changes. He now knows that he shouldn't boast and that he should give more credit to the gods.


"Six Elements Of The Epic." Six Elements Of The Epic. N.p,n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2015.

"Writeworld." WRITEWORLD. Web. 11 Dec. 2015.

Homer. "The Odyssey." Prentice Hall Literature. Upper Saddle River: Pearson, 2013. 1089- 1114.