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Homeric Simile Examples

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Examples of Similes From The Odyssey

Homeric Similes, also known as Epic Similes, are elaborate comparisons between two different objects using like or as.  We often use short similes in every day speech, like the example, “She’s tough as nails.” In fact, we use them so often that they can become idioms. A Homeric Simile, however, is used to redirect the reader’s attention in unexpected, humorous, gruesome or heroic ways. And they’re also a lot longer. Here are some Homeric Similes examples from one of Homer’s best known works: The Odyssey.

  • “I drove my weight on it from above and bored it home like a shipwright bores his beam with a shipwright’s drill that men below, whipping the strap back and forth, whirl and the drill keeps twisting, never stopping –So we seized our stake with it fiery tip and bored it round and round in the giant’s eye.”
  • “It’s crackling roots blazed and hissed – as a blacksmith plunges a glowing ax or adze in an ice-cold bath and the metal screeches steam and its temper hardens – that’s the iron’s strength – so the eye of Cyclops sizzled round that stake.”
  • “Her mind in torment, wheeling like some lion at bay, dreading the gangs of hunters closing their cunning ring around him for the finish.”
What might Homer be trying to say with these similes? How do these similes differ from the ones you might find in every day speech? Reply below!

If you’d like to look for more examples, they’re everywhere throughout The Odyssey. You can find the full text of The Odyssey here, or check out some more specific homeric simile examples. And if you’d like to review the story a little more quickly, watch our free Odyssey rap video!

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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Homer was a master storyteller. His profession was entertainment. The choice of comparisons used in his similes add vivid images to the already gory details, thus increasing dramatically the effect on the listener.
    Homer had neither camera crew nor actor; his voice alone had to convey the images.
    Yet the images reveal a truth about humanity: our taste for gore and horror has changed little over the centuries. Compare the recent film re-make of the Odyssey story, and the current Transformers movie. Action, danger, drama, and death continue to provide key ingredients in big box office success.

  2. Very cool post. Informative and interesting.

    I agree with Fred above, the most powerful, impactful, shareable classics are powerful universal truths, wrapped up in eye-catching, digestible entertainment 🙂

    Homer takes his similes to “another level”.

    Excellent rappers are also able to land Homerific similies (Eminem comes to mind, or perhaps Nicki Minaj.)

  3. The Odyssey “Rap” posted above is very entertaining and creative. It is an excellent introduction and even college students having read the epic before would enjoy it. However, it is NOT complete; I’m not talking detail. It leaves out Penelope’s second test of Odysseus: the story of the bed.

  4. The Odyssey rap is absolutely fantastic. I do agree with Andrea’s comment in January of 2012 about the test of the bed being left out of the rap.

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