Friday, September 14, 2012

The Iliad vs. The Odyssey vs. National Lampoon's Vacation

The Iliad vs. The Odyssey vs. Vacation

I just finished teaching the Odyssey for the first time, and I began ruminating on the fact that, as far as Homeric epics go, I prefer the Iliad.  But I also like National Lampoon's Vacation, so I thought I would make a chart about it.

One thing that I learned from teaching the Odyssey this year is that people generally prefer it to the Iliad.  It sounds like a generalization to say that, but my textbook came right out and stated it in the introduction to the poem.  I started discussing the matter with my students and colleagues and found it to be true.  One of the teachers said, "Life is a journey, not a destination, and that is why the Odyssey is better than the Iliad."

That was an interesting perspective on the subject, but it didn't make me feel any more settled.  I prefer the Iliad.  So I thought I'd come home and write about the comparison between the two epics, but then I realized that that was a terrible, boring idea for a blog, and no one would ever want to read that.

But then I got to thinking about that other epic, National Lampoon's Vacation, and imagined a world where all three could come together in harmony.  That's when I made the Venn diagram above.  I am totally ready to write a five-paragraph essay now.


  1. Love this. I once did something similar with Pee Wee's Big Adventure.

    1. Pee Wee's Big Adventure is a classic heroic journey, isn't it? So is Pinocchio and Field of Dreams.

      Vacation is also a perfect twin with As I Lay Dying. The year I taught that book, I had 80 or so students, not a single one of whom had ever seen the movie. Such a pity...