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Episode Info:

Mythology expert Richard Martin joins us to discuss why the Odyssey has been considered great story-telling by audiences across millennia.

As we talked about in episode 2 (on the Iliad), the Homeric epics came out of a long tradition of oral storytelling that stretched back hundreds of years into the Bronze Age. If there was a Homer, he did not just make up all these monsters and adventures up the top of his head. He inherited most of the individual episodes from the oral tradition. If we want to understand what makes the Odyssey great story-telling, we should look not for originality in the story per se, but at how the author weaves all the episodes together, puts them in a certain order to achieve maximum effect, and plays around with different tropes and formulas in order to tell a familiar type of narrative in an exciting way.

To find out more about the Odyssey (including our recommended translations) and about Richard Martin's books on mythology, visit the webpage for this episode at You can also use this link to post, tweet, or share this episode with friends. 

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