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The Odyssey

The Odyssey
This guide contains a breakdown of the structure of and analysis in the body paragraphs of your essay on the Odyssey. Below, you will find the following:
1) Outline of body paragraphs for Essay 1
2) Sample outline of Odysseus’ speech to Laertes (Book XXIV, Lines 330-355)
3) Complete analysis of Odysseus’ speech to Laertes (two body paragraphs)
4) How to title your essay
5) How to properly cite quotes from the Odyssey
Part 1 – Outline for Body Paragraphs
You will be analyzing three speeches from the Odyssey, and you’ll need two body paragraphs to analyze each speech.
Body Paragraph 1
• Background of scene (What is going in the scene? Who is speaking to whom?)
• Argument speaker is making
• First supporting claim
o Evidence for claim
• Strategy used to present claim
• Context (audience OR biographical)
Body Paragraph 2
• Transition to next paragraph
• Second claim
o Evidence for claim
• Strategy used to present claim
• Context (whichever one you didn’t use in the previous paragraph – audience or biographical)
Part 2 – Sample Outline for Odysseus’ Speech to Laertes
Please note: The outline has been color-coded (as has the sample body paragraphs later on in this guide) so you can see where/how each part of the outline is used in the sample body paragraph analyses.
Body Paragraph 1
• Background of scene – Odysseus speaking to Laertes (his father) after killing suitors
• Argument speaker is making – Odysseus is, actually, really Odysseus
• First supporting claim – scar on leg
o Evidence for claim – boar attacked him on the way to Parnassos
• Strategy used to present claim – pathos/word choice, ethos (devoted son)
• Context (audience OR biographical) – biographical (story from his youth)
Body Paragraph 2
• Transition to next paragraph
• Second claim – knows of Laertes’ orchard
o Evidence for claim – names and numbers of each tree and plant
• Strategy used to present claim – logos (statistics)
• Context (whichever one you didn’t use in the previous paragraph – audience or biographical) – audience (Laertes is the caretaker of the orchard, and therefore knows all about it)
Part 3 – Sample Body Paragraph Analysis
After a long twenty years, Odysseus returns home from his absence and is reunited with his beloved family. His father, Laertes, has aged quickly as time passed due to his sorrow. His inability to recognize Odysseus as his son offers Odysseus the opportunity to use his craftiness to eventually prove his identity to his father. After Odysseus first presents himself as a foreigner, he is moved by his father’s sorrow to tell the truth and argue that he is the one and true Odysseus. In order to support his argument, he tells the story of a scar on his foot, claiming, “First, then, look with your eyes upon this scar and know it. The wild boar inflicted it with his white tusk on Parnassos when I went there for you and my queenly mother” to deliver gifts to his grandfather (24.331-3). Odysseus proclaims his admiration for his “queenly mother” and his “mother’s dear father.” Through this emotional word choice, Odysseus reaffirms his character as a dutiful son to Laertes and Antikleia to strengthen his case that he is their child. He makes connections to his own past – specifically, the incident with the boar – in order to reintegrate himself into his family and present undeniable proof of who he really is.
Upon giving physical evidence to his father regarding his scar, Odysseus then proves that he has knowledge of Laertes and his duties on the farm. Odysseus recalls a memory from his childhood of when Laertes brought him to the orchard, naming and numbering every tree in the garden. He asserts, “I asked you of each one when I was a child following you through the garden. We went among the trees and you named them all and told me what each one was” (24.337-9). While Laertes was walking Odysseus through this orchard, Odysseus reminisces, “you gave me thirteen pear trees and ten apple trees and forty fig trees; and so also you named the fifty vines you would give” (24.340-2). Because Laertes would know most about the orchard, Odysseus reinforces his childhood memories by offering concrete facts in the form of numerical data to his audience. This conversation also serves as the “most unmistakable sign” that Laertes asks of him, giving credibility to Odysseus’ identity as his son (34.329).
*Please note: it’s perfectly fine to have some overlap between your analysis of strategy and context. For instance, the second paragraph above alternates between the two (blue and green highlighted sections).
Part 4 – Title of Essay
The title of your paper is the first thing your reader will see – it is essentially what makes the first impression of your paper. Therefore, using something as basic as “Essay 1” or “The Odyssey Essay” can have a weak effect on your reader, implying that you didn’t put much thought into your first impression. (Imagine going into a job interview in casual clothing – you could be well-qualified, but the first impression your clothes give won’t be a good one). So, your title should strive for two things:
• Creativity (but not dramatic)
• A clear indication of what the paper will be about.
The format recommended for this essay title is as follows:
“Quote from the Odyssey”: Topic of Essay
We already know that the topic (or focus) of your essay is a rhetorical analysis of the Odyssey. The quote you select should reflect that – it should have some sort of indication of the power of rhetoric/speech in the text. So, for instance, look at the effect Odysseus’ speech has on Laertes (24.345): “Laertes’ knees and the heart within him went slack” from shock once he discovers Odysseus really has returned. We can use this for a potential title:
“The heart within him went slack”: The Power of Rhetoric in the Odyssey
This will be a much stronger format for your title than a “throwaway” title like “Essay 1.”
Part 5 – How to Cite from the Odyssey
The format for citing – in general – from the Odyssey is as follows:
For example, if you are citing line 320 from Book IV, your citation will be:
If you’re citing multiple lines, provide the range. For instance, say you were citing line 5 up to line 15 in Book VII:
However, if you are citing lines that have the same numbers in the tens or hundreds place, the citation will be a bit different. For example, if you are citing line 23 to line 28 of Book IV, the citation would be:
(4.23-8) [NOT (4.23-28)]
Notice how line 23 and 28 both have the same number in the tens place (a “2”) – you don’t need to put the “2” in for line 28. Another example: citing lines 342 to 349 of Book IV:
(4.342-9) [NOT (4.342-349)
Because 342 and 349 have the same numbers for the tens place and the hundreds place (“4” and “3” respectively), you don’t need to include them when citing the final line.
Project 1: The Odyssey
Considered one of the greatest epics ever produced, The Odyssey follows the journey of Odysseus as he attempts to return to his home of Ithaca after a twenty-year absence. Throughout the story, many of the characters find themselves in complicated situations in which they must use rhetoric to survive or demonstrate their power. For this project, you will develop an account of The Odyssey, and pay special attention to the multiple rhetorical forces at play. A successful essay will include:
• Analysis of three speech acts involving any three characters in The Odyssey (or three different speech acts of one character)
• Identification of the characters’ arguments, supporting claims (minimum of two), and rhetorical strategies (minimum of two) employed in each speech act
• Discussion of the broader conversation that the argument is placed in and how such context affects the creation and delivery of the argument, namely by discussing the biographical and audience contexts for each speech
• A thesis statement guiding the reader through your essay
• Smooth transitioning and a strong structure connecting all of your ideas throughout the entire paper
Rhetorical Requirements:
Just as you are evaluating the rhetorical strategies the author is using, you will be employing rhetorical strategies of your own to convince your reader that your essay is well-supported. To this end, please consider the following:
• Audience: Write the paper as if addressing an educated reader unfamiliar with the text.
• Evidence: Present and analyze specific examples from the text as evidence for your claims. Quotations and references from any text must be properly integrated and cited.
• Structure: Have a clear thesis that signals your argument to the reader, and topic sentences that map out your organizational scheme. Use an effective structure that carefully guides the reader from one idea to the next. Pay careful attention to transitions between ideas and paragraphs.
• Presentation: Edit your paper thoroughly so that sentences are readable and appropriate for an academic audience. Use proper MLA format for your essay

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