Odyssey opening lines

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The opening lines of Homer’s epic poem, the Odyssey, are some of the most famous and enduring in all of literature. They immediately plunge the reader into the world of ancient Greece and the epic struggles of its heroes. As the story unfolds, we are transported through time and space, encountering gods, monsters, and mortals, all of whom are struggling to find their place in a world that is both beautiful and dangerous. With its vivid imagery, powerful storytelling, and timeless themes, the Odyssey has captivated readers for centuries, and its opening lines are just the beginning of a journey that is sure to leave a lasting impression on anyone who embarks on it. So if you’re looking for an epic adventure that will transport you to another world, look no further than the Odyssey.


The Odyssey is one of the most well-known epic poems in the world. Written by the ancient Greek poet Homer, it tells the story of the hero Odysseus and his ten-year journey home after fighting in the Trojan War. One of the most famous aspects of the poem is its opening lines, which set the tone for the entire story. In this article, we’ll explore the opening lines of the Odyssey and their significance to the poem as a whole.

The Opening Lines

The opening lines of the Odyssey are as follows:

“Tell me, Muse, of the man of many devices, who wandered full many ways after he had sacked the sacred citadel of Troy. Many were the men whose cities he saw and whose minds he learned, aye, and many the woes he suffered in his heart upon the sea, seeking to win his own life and the return of his comrades.”

These lines are spoken by the narrator, who is invoking the Muse to help him tell the story. The Muse is a goddess in Greek mythology who inspires artists and writers. By invoking her, the narrator is asking for her help in telling the story of Odysseus.

The Significance of the Muse

The Muse is an important figure in the Odyssey, as well as in Greek mythology as a whole. In ancient Greece, poets believed that their inspiration came from the Muses, who were the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne. There were nine Muses in total, each one responsible for a different form of art or knowledge.

By invoking the Muse at the beginning of the Odyssey, the narrator is acknowledging the importance of inspiration and creativity in the telling of the story. He is also acknowledging the role of the gods in human affairs, as the Muses were considered divine beings.

The Man of Many Devices

The opening lines of the Odyssey also introduce us to the hero of the story, Odysseus. He is referred to as “the man of many devices,” which is a fitting description for a character who is known for his cunning and ingenuity.

The phrase “man of many devices” also suggests that Odysseus is not a straightforward character. He is not simply a warrior or a hero, but rather a complex individual with many facets to his personality. This sets him apart from other heroes in Greek mythology, who are often portrayed as one-dimensional figures.

The Wandering Hero

The opening lines of the Odyssey also establish the theme of wandering, which is a central motif in the poem. Odysseus is described as having “wandered full many ways” after leaving Troy, and the narrator goes on to describe the many places he visited and the many people he met.

This theme of wandering reflects the larger theme of the Odyssey, which is the journey of self-discovery. Odysseus’ journey is not just a physical one, but a spiritual and emotional one as well. By wandering and experiencing new things, he learns more about himself and his place in the world.


The opening lines of the Odyssey are rich with meaning and significance. They introduce us to the narrator, the Muse, and the hero of the story, while also establishing important themes and motifs. By setting the tone for the rest of the poem, these lines invite the reader to embark on a journey of self-discovery alongside Odysseus.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the opening lines of The Odyssey?

The opening lines of The Odyssey are:

Tell me, Muse, of the man of many ways, who was driven far journeys, after he had sacked Troy’s sacred citadel.

Many were they whose cities he saw, whose minds he learned of, many the pains he suffered in his spirit on the wide sea, struggling for his own life and the homecoming of his companions.

Why are the opening lines of The Odyssey significant?

The opening lines of The Odyssey are significant because they set the tone and introduce the main character, Odysseus, as a man who has been on many adventures and has faced many challenges. The use of the Muse also suggests that this is a story of great importance and heroism. Additionally, the mention of Troy’s sacred citadel immediately ties the story to the events of the Trojan War, which is a key part of the background for the events of The Odyssey.

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