What Is the Invocation of "The Odyssey"?

The invocation is the first paragraph of "The Odyssey," where Homer is pleading with a Muse to help guide his words to tell the tale of Odysseus, the last Greek survivor of the Trojan War that has not made his way home or died trying. The invocation serves to give the reader some background on the story and the main character while also introducing the plot of the manuscript.

The invocation opens the manuscript and is followed by an introduction in the second paragraph that further reveals elements of the story. The two pieces work together to draw the reader into the story and summarize the tale. The invocation and introduction also introduce themes that are central to the narrative of the story including power, revenge, hospitality and reputation.

When the story opens, Odysseus has failed to help his friends and fellow soldiers to return safely home after the Trojan War. He has angered the sea god, Poseidon, and is being held prisoner on the island Ogygia by the nymph Calypso, who wants to make him her husband. In addition, Odysseus's wife is back home in Ithaca, waiting on her husband to return, and being chased by suitors in the meantime.