Home » Greek and Roman Mythology » Greek and Roman Mythology – Writing Assignment One.

Greek and Roman Mythology – Writing Assignment One.


Writing Assignments: Instructions:

1.) A short essay of 350-500 words.

2.) Peer grading of 5 other students’ essays.

There were four essay titles. This is the one I chose:

Some scholars have claimed that book 24 is a late addition to the Odyssey by a later editor and was never intended by Homer to be part of the epic. Using only Homer’s poetry as evidence, they wonder how well (or not well) it serves as a conclusion to the story and whether book 23 could serve as a better one. Weigh in yourself on this question. Would the Odyssey make more sense as a story if it ended with book 23? Why or why not? Justify your position using specific evidence from the epic. Analyze the main themes of book 23 and book 24 and evaluate how they relate or do not relate to the main themes of the story as a whole. Then construct a case either that 23 or 24 makes a better conclusion.

I found it very difficult to do within the word count. Here is my essay. I will post the grade and comments when I receive them

Would The Odyssey make more sense as a story if it ended with book 23?

I will argue the point that book 24 makes more sense as a final chapter. At the end of book 23 the restitution of Laertes to his former self and his reunion with his son haven’t happened. A battle is pending and Odysseus’s rule has not been restored.

A prominent theme in the final chapters is the importance and nature of the relationship between fathers and sons. Odysseus had his reunion with Telemachus but not with his own father. Throughout the Odyssey Odysseus is referred to and refers to himself as the son of Laertes, the name and bond are very strong.  At the end of 23 Odysseus announces his intentions “But now I must be off …., to see my father “(P392[1])

Before the reunion, in 24, Odysseus is saddened to see his father so depleted. In order to restore some of his previous pride and dignity he taunts him “look how squalid you are, those shabby rags …whose slave are you?” (P400).  By the end of the book Laertes has battled alongside his son and grandson and regained self-respect. With Athena’s help he cast the spear that killed Eupithes (p409). This is a perfect ‘bookend’ for the opening pathetic descriptions of him on P8.

Eupithes is another father, that of one of the slain suitors. We know from the story of Orestes, Agamemnon’s son (P12) that the fathers and brothers of the suitors will wish to avenge their deaths. It is in the social code. Odysseus knows this. At the end of 23 he prepared and “roused Telemachus, the cowherd and the swineherd, and told them to take up weapons honed for battle”(P392), the battle that took place in 24.

One of the major themes of the Odyssey is that of telling and retelling the story to keep it alive. Each time people meet they are asked to tell their story. Athena as Mentes tells a story (P8), Nestor tells the story of Troy(P35), the story of Agamemnon’s murder is told several times including in the end by Agamemnon. There are numerous stories told including of course Odysseus’s stories told by him in the court of Alcinous and later to Penelope in 23.

Important stories in book 24 are those of the suitors and Achilles deaths. The suitors’ story hasn’t yet been told apart from by the master narrator. The story told here by Amphimedon (P397) emphasises; the nature of the suitors, even in death they don’t take responsibility for their own actions and  blame Penelope; the importance of being buried (the suitors bodies still in the palace), we have already seen the importance of this for the dead from Elpenor (P175); the fidelity of Penelope compared to Clytemnestra “Happy Odysseus —what a fine, faithful wife you won! (P399). The story of Achilles, told by Agamemnon (P393) contrast a Hero’s death with that of the suitors. Achilles had gained kleos in death the story of what happened to his body shows the respect given to him in stark contrast to the suitors.

Unfortunately I have no words left to go into the importance of the gods bringing peace to Ithaca in the final book.  This and the finished stories above convince me that book 24 is a better ending.

[1] All page references are from the online Fagles translation at Scribid.com http://fr.scribd.com/doc/52280051/Homer-The-Odyssey-Fagles

I scored 8/10 on peer review for this essay. Here are the comments:-

peer 1 → Your argument that Book 24 is a necessary completion to the story of Odysseus is convincing, as is your observation about the telling and retelling of stories as an important motif in the epic. You could, however, have dealt more fully with the themes of the two books. Your discussion of the killing of Eupithes is a bit confusing, given your observation regarding Odysseus’ recognition of the need for a father to avenge the death of his son. If this is the case, why should he be killed?
peer 2 → It seems that the Author had no enough place to the conclusion.
peer 4 → This essay was very well written and actually made me reconsider my original position on this question. Well done
peer 5 → This student ran out of permitted words which is a great shame, if they had of been able to distill their thoughts they would have had the extra words to complete their essay which ended abruptly. But, saying that it was a very well constructed and nicely argued.
I agree with the criticisms that I didn’t develop the arguments. I might have been able to be more concise.
Peer one found my discussion of the killing of Eupithes confusing. I thought it obvious that as he would want to avenge the death of his son Odysseus needed to prepare for an attack from him. However I can see that I should have said this just to make it abundantly clear. This would not have taken many words.


  1. Rejana Raj says:

    That’s one great essay you got there, Louise !
    I love your blog and it is great site for those who want to have notes on the Greek and Roman Mythology MOOC.
    Keep it up !

    {P.S. In my opinion, it’s a 10/10 essay}

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