The Odyssey and the Iliad are two of Homer's most famous works. The two classic poems are also the two most famous and most beloved epic narratives in the world. Likely written between 900 and 700 BC, the two works both tell of fictional events that are likely based on actual historical occurrences from ancient times. The Odyssey and the Iliad are both epic poems, in the both figurative and definitive sense of the word. An epic poem, by definition, is a long poem that tells a story, often those of heroes embarking on adventures. Normally, these heroes will embody the values, beliefs, and epics of the civilizations they hail from or represent. The two stated works by Homer are the precursors to hundreds of other poems that contain similar patterns, including Dante's Divine Comedy, and the Anglo-Saxon Beowulf. Many epics are based off a certain model, or formula of telling a sequence of events. The Odyssey follows the "long journey" model, as it tells the chronicle of Odysseus' trek back home to Ithaca after fighting in the brutal Trojan War. .
Homer's first epic, the Iliad, tells of a decade-long, literally "epic" war outside the barriers of Troy. According to Homer's poem, the said war, the Trojan War, was begun through a series of events relating to Helen of Troy, Greek king Menelaus, and Trojan prince, Paris. The audience of the Odyssey would have known this context. They would also have known of Odysseus' great role in the war, especially his role in the creation and exploitation of the Trojan Horse. Primarily because of Odysseus' Horse maneuver, among other beneficial exploits of Odysseus, the Greeks were victorious in the war. .
The events chronicled in the Iliad lead up to those of the Odyssey. One of the reasons that the Odyssey is so treasured and has endured the test of time is that Odysseus, the Odyssey's protagonist, is such a relatable character. Though he is royalty and a mighty war hero, he is forced to find his way in a world full of struggles, difficult choices, bureaucrats, and roadblocks.