Lesson 1: How to Read Homer by Eva Brann

In this lesson, Eva Brann, PhD, suggests a number of helpful ways of reading Homer. Ms. Brann is the author of Homeric Moments: Clues to Delight in Reading the Odyssey and the Iliad and has been a tutor at St. John’s College for 60 years.

Outline of Session
Recommended Reading
Discussion Questions
  • Which of Eva Brann’s suggestions for reading Homer do you find particularly insightful and why?
  • Eva Brann recommends recognizing that you’re missing a lot as you read Homer’s poems. How can you recognize what you can’t see? What are some ways you can train yourself to be alert to Homer’s artistry?
  • Is it easier for you to see what Homer doesn’t describe in detail, or hear what he doesn’t say? What textual cues can you watch out for to help you get better at both? If possible, give specific examples of when the group members were able to identify that something more was going on beneath the surface in one of Homer’s epics.
  • Why do you think Homer demands double visualization with his similes? Does the poem itself provide the answer to which image or interpretation should be definitive?
  • Which of Eva Brann’s tips do you personally find most insightful, and why? Do you have a tip of your own to add for others when they read Homer?
PDF of Lecture
Assignments and Action Steps

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