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Allusion in The Odyssey

Homer alludes multiple times to characters and events from his other epic, The Iliad. Chronologically, The Odyssey takes place after The Iliad since Odysseus is on his return trip from the Trojan War. Allusions are made to connect the two epics together.

Allusion Examples in The Odyssey:

Book IV


"and mimicked all our wives..."   (Book IV)

Menelaus attempts to explain away this act of treachery as the gods' will, but Helen's measured and deliberate actions in this scene seem to suggest that she's trying to lead the Trojans to their hiding place. An alternate reading would be that she's trying to draw the Greeks out to ambush the Trojans, but this seems unlikely.

"that valiant warrior Achilles..."   (Book IV)

In The Iliad, Achilles was killed by Paris, Prince of Troy, who shot an arrow at Achilles' heel. According to legend, Achilles' heel was said to be his only weakness, the one part of his body that wasn't dipped into the River Styx, whose waters made him invulnerable. Homer alludes to Achilles' death to establish the timeline of events leading to this marriage.

"olive-wood handle..."   (Book V)

Homer’s specific mention of olive wood is an allusion, or reference, to the myth of Hermes’ slaying of Argus, who was protecting the heifer lo while she was chained to an olive tree. Homer’s consistent mention of olive wood is a symbol of hope and salvation throughout Odysseus’s journey.

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