Teaching “The Odyssey” with Greek Hospitality

Originally published on The Farmhouse Hostess

Emma Bireline

My English 9 class recently finished Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey. Students read Gareth Hind’s graphic novel as well as one book from the Fitzgerald translation. A lot (and I mean A LOT) happens in this epic poem, but one thing really interested me: As the epic hero Odysseus makes his tumultuous journey back to Ithaca, he attends several legendary feasts. Guests always received a warm welcome, a bomb meal, and quality entertainment.

A teacher I really admire (Lisa Hill of Colo-Nesco) does a Viking feast with her class after they read Beowulf. I just had to copy her! I reached out, and she graciously sent me a writeup of what her students have done throughout the years. I will briefly outline how I organized the process.

Step 1: Research

Each student chose an element of Ancient Greek feasts to research. They researched one of the below topics and worked for several days on a google doc. They practiced discovering quality/reliable information and citing their sources.

  • Food & Beverages
  • Decor
  • Music
  • Fashion
  • Entertainment

Step 2: Plan & Execute

Once the research was completed, students met in teams to plan their contribution to the feast. I continually used the word “contribution” because I wanted everybody to bring something to the table. They had five school days to plan and work. While we did have two whole-class meetings, and I met with individual students, I was pretty hands-off. I wanted it to be STUDENT-LED. Sink or swim, baby!

Step 3: The Feast

We had our feast during my two back-to-back English 9 class periods. It was so rewarding to see some of the incredible projects my students completed. Please check out some their great work below:

The Menu

A group of girls from 4th period collaborated with the chefs to make this menu on Canva.

The Decor

The “Chefs”

The Food

Guests were served buffet style!


The Lyre


Good Times

Overall, I thought everybody did pretty well! We had some fun and were able to celebrate the end of our Odyssey unit in style. Did everything go as planned? NO! I had some really sour/lazy attitudes throughout the process and even a group of gentlemen who hid during the feast to avoid participating. Despite all that, it’s worth it to watch kids shine! Project Based Learning can be really exhausting, but so necessary for some of our gifted students. Great job, English 9! Well, most of you…

Read more of Emma Bireline’s hosting exploits at thefarmhousehostess.com