Anyone ever think there is a reason episodes IV, V, and VI were released first? Think we would be discussing this stuff if it went the other way around? I certainly don't. Don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of this series. But I just don't think it would have taken like it has if the first couple episodes were released first.
Star Wars is considered an epic, and one quality of an epic is it starts en media res (in the middle of the action). That's why Lucas had to start there. It hooks us and then he can always go back and tell the story that leads up to it.
The Odyssey is the same way. It starts in the middle of the action and then goes back and tells a bunch of pre-story which isn't quite as exciting as when he goes home and destroys the suitors- which he is near to getting to that point in the beginning of the book, but has to retell his whole story.
If Lucas started with Episode I, it may have never made it through the whole series, at least not with the fanbase it has today.
I actually spent about 30 minutes discussing the similarities of The Odyssey and Star Wars in terms of epic poetry to my 8th graders.