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The science behind the myth: Homer's "Odyssey" - Matt Kaplan

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Homer’s "Odyssey" recounts the adventures of the Greek hero Odysseus during his journey home from the Trojan War. Though some parts may be based on real events, the encounters with monsters, giants and magicians are considered to be complete fiction. But might there be more to these myths than meets the eye? Matt Kaplan explains why there might be more reality behind the "Odyssey" than many realize.

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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Matt Kaplan
  • Animator Mike Schell
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Narrator Matt Kaplan
Additional Resources for you to Explore
Here is a diagram for the structure of an Acetylcholine molecule, the neurotransmitter disrupted by Jimson weed.




Are you interested in the relationship between modern science and ancient descriptions of magic? For more information, you can read Science of the Magical, the book authored by this lesson's educator, Matt Kaplan. He also wrote a book about the science of mythical beasts and monsters.



You can listen to Matt Kaplan on NPR's Science Friday discussing the science that explains these fabled phenomena.


A Matter Of Fact and Fiction is a site dedicated to exploring the boundary between science and legend. There are blog posts, videos and podcasts, including this one about the Circe story.



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Create and share a new lesson based on this one.

About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Matt Kaplan
  • Animator Mike Schell
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Narrator Matt Kaplan