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The Odyssey by Homer
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The Odyssey

by Homer

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
28,88524332 (4.04)5 / 708
  1. 202
    The Iliad by Homer (caflores)
  2. 172
    The Aeneid by Virgil (caflores)
  3. 132
    The King Must Die by Mary Renault (alalba)
  4. 50
    Homer's Daughter by Robert Graves (MarcusBrutus)
    MarcusBrutus: Robert Graves took the story of "The Odyssey's" authorship and expounds on the theory that it was written by a woman. This is a novel based on that idea.
  5. 52
    Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Gawain Poet (chrisharpe)
  6. 42
    The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel by Nikos Kazantzakis (lilithcat)
    lilithcat: Only Greece's greatest modern writer would have the nerve and ability to send Odysseus back on his journeying.
  7. 86
    Ulysses by James Joyce (chrisharpe)
  8. 32
    The Long Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson (chrisharpe)
  9. 10
    Voyages and Discoveries: Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques & Discoveries of the English Nation by Richard Hakluyt (KayCliff)
  10. 77
    Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing (BookWallah)
    BookWallah: Odysseus & Shackleton both had travails getting home from their epic voyages. Differences in their stories: The former’s took 17 years, lost all his men, & was told as epic poetry. The latter’s took 16 months, saved all his men, & is told as gripping biography.… (more)
  11. 33
    The Lost Books of The Odyssey: A Novel by Zachary Mason (slickdpdx)
  12. 37
    The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan (Jitsusama)
    Jitsusama: An ancient classic revolving around Greek Myth. A great help to better understand the mythology of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.
  13. 49
    Lawrence of Arabia: The Authorized Biography of T.E. Lawrence by Jeremy Wilson (KayCliff)
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The Odyssey is one of two narrative poems that have been attributed to the Greek poet Homer; while it is not entirely clear that he actually composed both or any of them. While it can be said that The Odyssey is a sequel to Homer’s Iliad, reading them out of order will not put you at a major disadvantage. Iliad tells the story of the war on Troy and remains popular due to the fact that it is one of the only surviving Greek classics that actually deals with thetopic. The destruction of the Library of Alexandria was a great cultural loss and many poems and documents were lost, leaving Homer’s works even more culturally significant as it pretty much all we have left to go on. The Iliad and Odyssey remain fundamental to the Western canon for being the oldest works still in existent in literature.

While the Iliad focused on the events that happened in Troy, The Odyssey takes place ten years after the Trojan War. Odysseus has still not returned home from the war, his wife Penelope is still hopeful for his return while the Suitors (a group of over 100 men) try to persuade her to marry one of them. The Suitors are enjoying the hospitality of Odysseus, eating up his wealth while he is not around to stop them. Up on Mount Olympos, the gods are debating on whether to let Odysseus return. The goddess Athene pleads to her father Zeus in favour of letting him return, but Poseidon wishes to wipe his ship out. Obviously this is an over simplified synopsis; to give The Odyssey’s plot any justice, I would need to write a few paragraphs of information.

I was a little worried going into this epic poem; I have often found medieval literature difficult and the idea of reading something so much older scared me. I was lucky enough to be assigned a prose translation by Walter Shewring which was a perfect choice for me. Out of interest I had a look at another prose translation, the Project Gutenberg edition (translated by Alexander Pope) and was shocked to see Jove, Neptune and Minerva used in the text. A Greek epic poem that was using Roman gods, that didn’t work for me. Shewring’s was superb; it made things easier for me and helped me find the beauty with this text.

Obviously when The Odyssey was first composed (believed to be around the 8th century BC) it was shared in an oral tradition by an aoidos (poet or singer). We can see a lot techniques being used that have since been established as the literary norm. The Odyssey reads almost like a modern day thriller, continually keeping up a fast pace with slight repetition to remind the audience of key plot points. It is a story of a variety of adventures, told in a non-linear fashion that doesn’t have much in the way of philosophising or introspection.

While the Iliad and Odyssey is attributed to Homer, there isn’t much other information about this Greek poet. The bearded blind man often depicted as an image of Homer is not even one that can be historically verified. The lack of information about the author (if in fact he was the author) means that the poems have to speak for themselves; a new experience for me in my study of literature. It is surprising that the literary terms ‘Homeric Greek’ and ‘Homeric world’ were named after someone we know nothing about.

There is a lot going on in The Odyssey but I want to look at two things I found interesting; first of all the idea of hospitality. Within the poem the idea of hospitality is a little weird; the Suitors just move in and make themselves at home, taking advantage of the hospitality of someone who wasn’t around to stop them. Further in the poem, Odysseus and his soldiers are doing the exact same thing to the Cyclops. Hospitality is expected and within this poem it is often being taken advantage of. What does that say of humanity during the time this was set and has it changed much now?

Secondly I want to talk about gender inequality, ever since reading The Fictional Woman I see it in almost everything I read, so I can’t help but talk about. Odysseus is not faithful to his wife Penelope, there are countless times he is sleeping with someone else. In fact the idea of him being a highly sexual being is pretty much glorified within this poem but if it is a woman, then she isn’t an ‘ideal’ woman or evil. Just look at how Clytemnestra, the sirens and Calypso are portrayed within this poem. In fact Penelope is the symbol of a perfect woman and Odysseus has to test her before revealing who he is. My problem is the scary notion that this gender inequality is still a problem now; in the 8th century BC it was evident; why is this still a problem?

Odysseus is an interesting character, a smart and witty hero; you could even say he had the favour of Athene (goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, law and justice, strategic warfare, mathematics, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, and skill) on his side. It is interesting the way Odysseus is portrayed as a hero; it is different to a modern interpretation of the word. He isn’t necessarily a good person, in fact, I would say he wasn’t but his actions are often heroic. He tries to save his men from the Cyclops but his pride and ego almost got them killed and there are many more instances of this. In this modern world we seem to combine a good character with heroics but that isn’t often the case. A person can be heroic and try to protect or save others, doesn’t mean they are not a jerk.

I went into this epic poem nervous and I ended up loving it; I will have to track down the Iliad and read that one as well. I think Walter Shewring’s translation did help and the fact that this was an Oxford World Classics edition meant that I knew I would have some helpful information to help me understand The Odyssey. On a more personal note, writing this review was rather difficult, I had to remember Homer didn’t write this, he spoke it and this is a poem not a novel or book. I have so much I want to say about this poem but I had to edit this review down already.

This review originally appeared on my blog: http://literary-exploration.com/2014/10/07/the-odyssey-by-homer/ ( )
1 vote knowledge_lost | Dec 8, 2014 |
Starts out well enough but once Odysseus gets home everything went downhill and became a real bore. ( )
  kaipakartik | Nov 9, 2014 |
This is the classic story of how Odysseus leaves the finished battle of Troy for his return voyage to Ithaca only to be beset by many trials and obstacles. Meanwhile, back at the ranch--I mean palace, his wife and son creatively ward off a group of rowdy suitors who want to take Odysseus' wife as their own and gain the kingdom. Also in the background, the Greek gods argue with each other, some punish Odysseus and others try to help.

I chose to read the Alexander Pope translation because I wanted to read the free version on my ereader. I never finished The Iliad because I was overwhelmed by the length of the book. I needed to trick my brain into thinking this wasn't so long. That said, I would recommend a more recent translation like the Fagles' translation. There were portions that I found difficult to understand, and it was especially difficult to understand who was talking at times.

A couple of observations on the great epic poem. There are some very touching (emotional) scenes in this book. One that stands out to me is Odysseus's visit to hell. There he sees his mother and learns she has died of grief over Odysseus's failure to return from the war. He also sees Agamemnon who was killed by his wife and her lover on his return from the war. A cast of characters parades in front of him from the war who are now dead. Another is when Odysseus returns to Ithaca and his old dog dies of joy. Odysseus sees his father, the former king, in rags, and his wife in tears. I rejoiced when Penelope finally had the joy of spending the night with her husband. What a reunion!

I was surprised by some of the violence because I'd read The Children's Homer by Colum three times to my children through the years. Obviously, Colum edited the story to make it more suitable for children. This has a very modern feel when the monster eats his comrades, and when Odysseus cuts off the heads of the suitors and tortures one of the suitors' servants, then he decides to hang the women conspirators.

All in all the enduring classic quality of this story hinges on the emotional connection we all feel to our hero Odysseus. ( )
1 vote heidip | Aug 12, 2014 |
This is a prose translation, which feels a little dated and wordy at times, I'm sure others are better. It's a great story, but told in a convoluted way, and quite unevenly paced. Lots of other bits of Greek myth are touched on as Odysseus wanders from one place to another, spinning his tales as he tries to get home. I found myself getting really involved and loving some of the more compelling story telling parts, but a bit bored by some of the more repetitive and slow moving parts. It inspired a great discussion at book club too. ( )
  AlisonSakai | Aug 4, 2014 |
"When young any composition pleases which unites a little sense, some imagination, and some rhythm, in doses however small. But as we advance in life these things fall off one by one, and I suspect we are left at last with only Homer and Virgil, perhaps Homer alone." - Thomas Jefferson, Thoughts on English Prosody

"I enjoy Homer in his own language infinitely beyond Pope’s translation of him, & both beyond the dull narrative of the same events by Dares Phrygius." - Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Priestley, 27 Jan. 1800 [PTJ 31:339-341]

"Read also Milton’s paradise lost, Ossian, Pope’s works, Swift’s works in order to form your style in your own language." - Thomas Jefferson to Peter Carr, 19 Aug. 1785 [PTJ 8:405-408]
  ThomasJefferson | Jul 30, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (301 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Homerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aafjes, BertusTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Østbye, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bendz, GerhardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Björkeson, IngvarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Boutens, P.C.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Buckland-Wright, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burkert, WalterAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Butcher, Samuel HenryTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Butler, SamuelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chapman, GeorgeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Christian, AntonIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Coornhert, Dierick Volckertsz.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cullen, PatrickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dimock, GeorgeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Due, Otto SteenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eliot, Charles WilliamEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fagles, RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fitzgerald, RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Flaxman, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fuchs, J.W.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, Peter V.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kirk, G. S.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Knox, BernardIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lagerlöf, ErlandTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lang, AndrewTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lattimore, RichmondTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lawrence, T. E.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Linkomies, EdwinPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lombardo, StanleyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Loomis, Louise RopesEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lucas, F. L.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mandelbaum, AllenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Manninen, OttoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McKellen, IanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miller, Walter JamesEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Montbel, DugasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morris, WilliamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Palmer, George HerbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pope, AlexanderTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Porter, Howard N.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rees, EnnisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Riba, CarlesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rieu, D. C. H.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rieu, Emile VictorTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roberts, AdamIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rouse, W. H. D.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Samuel ButlerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Segalá y Estalella, LuisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shaw, T. E.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shewring, WalterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stanford, William Bedell.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Steinmann, KurtTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stolpe, JanEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Svenbro, JesperForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Timmerman, Aegidius W.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vosmaer, C.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Voss, Johann HeinrichTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Way, Arthur S.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
Much have I travelled in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He stared at the Pacific--and all his men
Looked at each other with a wild surmise--
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

John Keats
Dedication
for my sons and daughters - Translator's dedication (Fitzgerald, 1963)
For Lynne
su gar m'ebiôsao, kourê - Translator's dedication (Fagles, 1996)
First words
By now the other warriors, those that had escaped headlong ruin by sea or in battle, were safely home.
Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns driven time and again off course, once he had plundered the hallowed heights of Troy.
This is the story of a man, one who was never at a loss.
Quotations
Tell me Muse, of the man of many ways, who was driven far journeys, after he had sacked Troy's sacred citadel.
(Lattimore translation}
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The Odyssey is the epic poem about the great adventurer Odysseus. After the great fall of Troy, Odysseus has some difficulties finding his way back to Ithaca. He encounters sirens, giants and many other mythical creatures and it takes him 10 years to find his way home. I enjoyed this book because it of the mythology and the adventure that it portrays and I think it is a good read.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0140268863, Paperback)

Robert Fagles's translation is a jaw-droppingly beautiful rendering of Homer's Odyssey, the most accessible and enthralling epic of classical Greece. Fagles captures the rapid and direct language of the original Greek, while telling the story of Odysseus in lyrics that ring with a clear, energetic voice. The story itself has never seemed more dynamic, the action more compelling, nor the descriptions so brilliant in detail. It is often said that every age demands its own translation of the classics. Fagles's work is a triumph because he has not merely provided a contemporary version of Homer's classic poem, but has located the right language for the timeless character of this great tale. Fagles brings the Odyssey so near, one wonders if the Hollywood adaption can be far behind. This is a terrific book.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:32:16 -0400)

(see all 11 descriptions)

A new translation of the epic poem retells the story of Odysseus's ten-year voyage home to Ithaca after the Trojan War.

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7 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140268863, 0143039954, 0140445927, 0140449116, 0140383093, 0451530683, 0141192445

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