In the Odyssey, it is vital to understand that this was a Greek epic that has been read through the eyes of countless human beings. But why are so many people reading such texts? In my opinion it is to understand different aspects of human culture and the drive of the human mind. Also, it is to show that the idea of the "hero" was created so long ago and by a different culture, making it relate to all.
To see Odysseus struggle to get home and struggle mentally it makes the story relate to anyone, no matter what color your skin is, what culture you are from, or what you think the definition of a hero is. It also cultures the readers' mind a little bit, exposing different angles of the human races' capability to succeed and overcome obstacles.
This can be related to Crime and Punishment-Russian, and The Stranger-French. Both of these books reveal different cultures and makes you smarter in the end. Who doesn't want to be smarter and more cultured? Reading such muti-cultural texts creates a window in which reader can peer into different cultures and understand different aspects of human nature.
Even in our society we love submerging ourselves in multi-cultural multi-media. For instance Slumdog Millionaire lets viewers into the grim, and definitely romanticized, life in the Indian slums. We as humans, and definitely Americans, enjoy witnessing other examples of society and how they differ from our own.