I love many of the classic myths and poems of ancient Greece. My favorite, though, is The Odyssey. While on the surface it seems to just be another epic adventure story, if you dig deeper, The Odyssey can give you insights on fatherhood, marriage, and surviving in a world that’s in constant flux.
My guest today recently published a book exploring these themes in The Odyssey, particularly the theme of fathers and sons searching for each other. His name is Daniel Mendelsohn, and he's a classicist, essayist, and book critic. In his latest book, "An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic," Daniel shares the experience of having his 81-year-old father enroll as a student in the undergrad seminar he taught on The Odyssey and the insights he gleaned about his relationship with his dad by looking at the father-son relationships explored in the epic poem. We begin our conversation with a big picture overview of The Odyssey and why Daniel’s dad decided to take his seminar on it. Daniel and I then discuss what we can learn about the relationship between sons and fathers from Odysseus' relationships both with his son Telemachus, and with his father Laertes. We then shift to what we can learn from Odysseus and his wife Penelope on forming a strong marriage, how travel can change us, and why The Odyssey becomes more relevant to men when they have families of their own.
This is a fun podcast filled with amazing insights about one of the greatest stories ever told. After you listen to it, you’ll want to dust off your copy of The Odyssey itself so you can read it with fresh eyes.