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Although set within the circumstances of the Trojan War, Homer's Odyssey is a far different book. With his Iliad, from the book itself as well as the archaeological excavations that support it, it is reasonable to infer a real historical event as background. With the Odyssey, such an assumption is impossible. The book is a tale of adventure at sea and of homecoming after a long absence. These two themes have pervaded Western literature ever since the Homeric epic was written, and the story may well have proved a popular one well before Greek history began. The story could just as well have stood on its own without any relation to the conflict of the Greeks with Troy. The vividly fictional characteristics of the story have not prevented critics, past and present, from seeking to place it in a specific geographic context. Hesiod, who wrote later than Homer, believed that Odysseus and his ships sailed around in the general area of Italy and Sicily, to the west of Ithaca. Later analysts tried to set the wanderings within the Mediterranean Sea generally, while others suggested the Atlantic Ocean as more likely. The ancient astronomer Eratosthenes, who lived in the 2nd century BC, regarded all such speculations as foolish. For him, the world of Odysseus was a completely imaginary one. Indications of this are found within the text itself. Some of the hero's wanderings could well have been based on the even older story of Jason and his Argonauts, who sailed east in search of the golden fleece. To sum up, in the case of the book Odyssey, it is quite likely that several ancient legends were woven into one continuous epic.

According to the author of the passage, it is true to say of the Odyssey that ------ .

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