This New York Times article (via Cheap Talk) shows that you can get to be an English professor without ever reading the Odyssey (or even skimming the Cliff Notes):
The road between the two cultures — science and literature — can go both ways. “Fiction provides a new perspective on what happens in evolution,” said William Flesch, a professor of English at Brandeis University.
To Mr. Flesch fictional accounts help explain how altruism evolved despite our selfish genes. Fictional heroes are what he calls “altruistic punishers,” people who right wrongs even if they personally have nothing to gain. “To give us an incentive to monitor and ensure cooperation, nature endows us with a pleasing sense of outrage” at cheaters, and delight when they are punished, Mr. Flesch argues. We enjoy fiction because it is teeming with altruistic punishers: Odysseus, Don Quixote, Hamlet, Hercule Poirot.