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Study Questions

Canto I Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.
  1. Why do you think Ezra Pound decided to write "Canto I" as a straight-up translation from Homer's Odyssey? Why do you think he chose the specific stuff he translated?
  2. How do you identify with Odysseus, the speaker of "Canto I"? What general aspects of his struggles feel familiar to you (i.e., his search for home, conflict between self-interest and loyalty, etc.)?
  3. Why do you think Pound suddenly breaks from his translation in line 68 of "Canto I"? What connection do you think there is between The Odyssey and this Andreas Divus guy Pound is talking about?
  4. In your mind, what should come after the final words "So that:" at the end of "Canto I." And no, you can't just opt out of answering by saying, "Canto II, of course." If you read "Canto I" to someone, and she said "So what?", how would you answer her? What makes you pick that ending?
  5. If the choice were yours, would you backtrack hundreds of miles and face tons of danger for the sake of burying your dead friend (who, let's face it, died because he got drunk and fell off a roof)? What is the limit of your loyalty to friends? Do you have a limit? How would Odysseus answer this question, based on "Canto I"?
  6. Basically, what does Tiresias say to Odysseus when the two of them finally meet up? Is it good or bad advice? Is it advice at all? What parts of the poem support your answer?
  7. Why do you think Odysseus and his crew have bodies that are "[h]eavy with weeping" (5) at the beginning of this poem? What are they sailing away from? What are they sailing toward?
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