Study Guide

All Quiet on the Western Front The Odyssey

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The Odyssey

Odd Odyssey

If Kantorek's case of crazy eye didn't distract you too much, you might have noticed the writing on the blackboard behind him.

The phrase he's scrawled there is the first line of Homer's The Odyssey. For those of us who don't speak Greek, the line roughly translates to:

Tell me, oh Muse, of that ingenious hero who traveled far and wide. (Source)

(The remainder of the epic poem's opening line—"after he sacked the famous town of Troy"—is notably absent from Kantorek's blackboard.)

This line supports Kantorek's worldview and provides us an insight into his militaristic fervor. Having been raised on the classics like The Iliad and The Odyssey, Kantorek sees war as something glorious, an event where nations invest young men and get worldly, ingenious heroes.

And Kantorek's own words follow a similar ideal:

KANTOREK: Here is a glorious beginning for your lives. The field of honor calls you.

Of course he believes that. His experience of war comes from the ancient Greeks, who didn't exactly like to write epic poems about losers or dead men. Odysseus went to war and then had an epic poem written about him—the man was trending millennia before trending was even a thing.

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