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The Odyssey by Homer

The Odyssey (edition 2006)

by Homer

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31,65826925 (4.03)5 / 827
Title:The Odyssey
Info:Penguin Classics (2006), Paperback, 560 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Odyssey by Homer

  1. 272
    The Iliad by Homer (caflores)
  2. 232
    The Aeneid by Virgil (caflores)
  3. 162
    The King Must Die by Mary Renault (alalba)
  4. 126
    Ulysses by James Joyce (chrisharpe)
  5. 60
    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.
  6. 62
    Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Gawain Poet (chrisharpe)
  7. 52
    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.
  8. 10
    Voyages and Discoveries: Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques & Discoveries of the English Nation by Richard Hakluyt (KayCliff)
  9. 32
    The Long Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson (chrisharpe)
  10. 00
    Antigone / Oedipus at Colonus / Oedipus Rex by Sophocles (chwiggy)
  11. 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)
  12. 33
    The Lost Books of The Odyssey: A Novel by Zachary Mason (slickdpdx)
  13. 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.
  14. 410
    Lawrence of Arabia: The Authorized Biography of T.E. Lawrence by Jeremy Wilson (KayCliff)

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English (234)  Spanish (8)  Dutch (6)  French (4)  Danish (3)  Italian (3)  Portuguese (2)  Swedish (2)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Russian (1)  Finnish (1)  German (1)  All languages (266)
Showing 1-5 of 234 (next | show all)
{Review of E.V. Rieu's prose translation, Penguin Classics} Reading a prose version of The Odyssey is like having your learned friend read the poem silently to himself and occasionally pausing to explain to you what's going on. This is a very thorough translation of the action, but you won't grasp why Homer is called a master bard or find his genius. For all the translator's efforts this reads almost like a comic book version minus the pictures. That makes it simple to breeze through and there's no question you'll know the whole story by the end, but you'll not have been swept up by it as you would if you've any ear for poetry.

Where reading the Iliad felt like rehashing a story I already knew, it was a different experience with The Odyssey. My knowledge of this one was more episodic, and getting the full story has finally sewn it together. While I'd recommend reading a poetic version if you can, the translator's introduction points out that The Odyssey can be likened to a novel and this is ably supported by its prose rendition. Techniques we view as modern can be found here in work that's 3,000 years old: different points of view, timeline jumps, foreshadowing etc. that could trick me into believing it's much more recent. I only regret the disproportionate page count once he gets to Ithaca, which I didn't find nearly as engaging as what came before. It's still easy to prefer this to the Iliad, but reading that first lends this one extra weight. It's the ending we didn't get, and this time it satisfies. ( )
  Cecrow | Aug 29, 2016 |
Over the last fifty years I've read four translations of 'The Odyssey': E V Rieu (Penguin Classics), Butcher & Lang (used and parodied by Joyce in 'Ulysses'; despised by Pound), T E Lawrence (critics are a bit sniffy, but I enjoyed it) and finally the only verse translation I've read, the other three are prose, by the American poet Robert Fagles (pronounced as in bagel). I was further delighted to find when listening to Adam Nicolson's book, 'The mighty dead: why Homer matters' (2014) that Fagles is his choice of an exemplary modern translation.

Of course it could be growing familiarity with the tale over three quarters of my life that enhances the jouissance of re-reading, but Fagles is now my choice - every evening I looked forward to picking up the book. His use of verse enhances the emotion and action of the tale. You have to pay attention otherwise you may lose who is speaking or the thread of the tale's subtle structures of back story and/or current action, oftentimes twined. I was pleased when re-reading Robin Knox's introduction to find that some passages I'd enjoyed for their impact were highlighted by him, but also noted, to my chagrin, that I'd missed some as well - how could I have missed this and this? Of course that's the pleasure of the text - with each reading you find something new. This text repays close attention, at times difficult because the action urges the reader on - so I'll be going back for more - this really is a book to live with.

The edition is enhanced with Robin Knox's introduction, as mentioned, maps, translation notes, genealogies, textual variants, suggestions for further reading and a pronunciation glossary - all very useful. ( )
2 vote peterbrown | Jul 9, 2016 |
Greek mythology amazing metaphors the most disgusting and amazingly detailed death scenes I've ever read... This was awesome!!
And now I really want to read the Iliad. ( )
  FilipaCorreia | Jun 30, 2016 |
A great classic. Another epic tale by Homer. ( )
  Shadow494 | Jun 20, 2016 |
Tell me, Muse, the story of that resourceful man who was driven to wander far and wide after he had sacked the holy citadel of Troy."

What surprised me the most about reading The Odyssey of Homer, the second oldest surviving piece of Western literature (after Homer's The Iliad), was how well it has held up. Its style is by no means modern, but it reads surprisingly well for an oral epic written in a 2,500-year-old dead language. Credit must go, of course, to the translation that I read: the standard 1948 Penguin Classics translation by E. V. Rieu. Not only does Rieu make the prose come alive, but his Introduction (along with those by his son D. C. H. Rieu and Peter Jones in my revised Penguin Classics edition) significantly enhance one's enjoyment of the story, which is not always something one can say about scholarly introductions. Jones and the Rieus provide context and sympathetic navigation for the story; I would recommend this translation to readers who want an authentic Homeric experience without being alienated by archaisms or, conversely, over-simplistic modern re-tellings.

As for the story itself, it is rightfully considered a classic; the original adventure story. The most famous elements, such as the Sirens, Scylla and Charybdis, the Cyclopes, Circe the witch, etc., are all great feats of imagination and genesis for many modern myths and fantasy stories. But there are some things which did jar with me; I would perhaps suggest that it is impossible for such an ancient story to chime one-hundred-percent with any modern reader given it was written for a completely different audience. I am not talking about the things that would seem morally questionable today, such as slave ownership, aristocracies and the killing of unarmed people, as one must of course be aware of the novel's historical context. Rather, it is the Ancient Greek obsession with deities involved in human affairs which, if this novel were written today, would have levelled at it the crime of deus ex machina. (I remember unapologetically tearing a strip off Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist for faulty narrative mechanics and dei ex machina that pale to those present here.) Many things only happen because a god willed it, and little explanation is given as to why; it is particularly annoying when the action didn't even require a god to intervene, and events might have progressed along similar lines if the gods had just stayed at home on Mount Olympus and tucked into some ambrosia. Some (read: many) of the various gods' actions are baffling, counter-productive or out-of-character (though the lame god Hephaestus calling his adulterous wife Aphrodite a 'brazen bitch' was rather amusing), and the narrative inconsistencies with which The Odyssey is abruptly ended are often noted and lamented by readers.

But my main criticism of The Odyssey is the apparent lack of focus. It is not quite a bona fide adventure story; most of the famous elements of the story (the Cyclopes, Circe, the Sirens, Scylla and Charybdis, etc.) are dealt with only in the second quarter of the book (Books/Chapters 9 to 12 of a total of 24 Books). You do wonder about Homer's priorities: he devotes more time to mixing bowls and courtesies than he does to the Sirens, say, or the lotus-eaters. Both the Sirens and the lotus-eaters are dealt with in perhaps a page or two each. It reminded me a bit of The Lord of the Rings, where Tolkien would devote just a short chapter to the epic Battle of Helm's Deep but entire swathes of prose to describing the intricacies of a language, landscape or suchlike. A mere perusal of the chapter names is instructive in this regard; the second half of the book is dominated by such less-than-thrilling titles as 'In Eumaeus' Hut', 'Telemachus Returns', 'Odysseus Goes to the Town' and 'Eurycleia Recognizes Odysseus'. Odysseus spends more time toasting the health of courteous hosts than he does impaling dread sea monsters on his bronzed spear.

That said, The Odyssey is a true epic. If not a straight-up adventure story, it does nevertheless have a consistent theme, which is hospitality and the correct treatment of guests, a concept known as xenia to the Ancient Greeks. Most of the events of the novel, not just the obvious story of Odysseus against the Suitors but also Odysseus' encounters with the Cyclopes, Circe, Calypso, the Phaeacians, and so on, are driven by the use or abuse of this concept of xenia, which is held sacred. One can entertain oneself identifying relevant instances of xenia and how they drive the story throughout.

The characters are also interesting; straightforward enough to be readable but also complex. I found it particularly interesting that Odysseus relies as much on guile as he does on strength (he was the one who came up with the Trojan Horse gambit, after all), even though he is fêted as an honourable man and considered 'godlike' in his strength. There is scholarly debate as to whether Odysseus is in fact an anti-hero, predating our modern pop-culture obsession with such morally-ambiguous characters by a couple of millennia. (The non-linear storytelling is also impressively ahead of its time). The major female characters are also well-developed (Odysseus' wife Penelope, above all, proves to be cunning enough to hold her own against the Suitors' attentions), even though there is perhaps a misogynistic, belittling mentality occasionally apparent where the misdeeds of one woman is said to bring a curse down on all womankind, whereas individual men have different fates from one another. But, as I said above, one must judge The Odyssey in its historical context and not let our modern ways of thinking hinder our enjoyment of the story. (Though I did find it funny when, in Book 18, Odysseus, a fine orator when he wants to be, puts down a handmaid's lengthy eloquent mockery of his rags - he is disguised as a beggar - with a short, sharp retort: "You bitch!").

Above all, the language is gorgeous. There are evocative references to the 'wine-dark sea' and Dawn appearing 'fresh and rosy-fingered', which sweeten the reader's mind no matter how often they are repeated (and, as The Odyssey was originally an oral poem, they are repeated a lot). The goddess Athene is often referred to as the 'goddess of the flashing eyes' or the 'gleaming eyes', conveying both her beauty and her cunning. And even the smallest actions are made to sound epic; consider, for example, this passage in Book 4 which describes Menelaus merely getting ready one morning:

"As soon as Dawn appeared, fresh and rosy-fingered, Menelaus of the loud war-cry rose from his bed and put on his clothes. He slung a sharp sword from his shoulder, bound a fine pair of sandals on his glistening feet and strode from his bedroom looking like a god."

For my indulgence, the 'ambrosial night', the arrow flying with its 'burden of bronze' (i.e. its arrowhead), a battered ship in a storm as the 'sport of the furious winds' and a deep sleep described as 'the very counterfeit of death' are all achingly beautiful phrases. I particularly liked that when a character is speaking animatedly or passionately or angrily, they are described as speaking with 'winged words' or being addressed with 'words that flew'. Readers should be aware that I am also speaking with winged words when I recommend The Odyssey for these little gems of prose alone. Failing that, it should be read as a classic of adventure fiction and mythic fantasy, an eloquent epic undiminished by the passage of time." ( )
  MikeFutcher | Jun 3, 2016 |
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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
Dillon, DianeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, LeoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dimock, GeorgeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Due, Otto SteenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dugas-Montbel, Jean-BaptisteTranslatorsecondary 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
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
Wilding, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Tell me, O muse, of that ingenious hero who travelled far and wide after he had sacked the famous town of Troy.
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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.
Haiku summary
Greek hero of Troy
Takes long time getting back home
Having  adventures.

Son wants his Paw home;
Paw away on business trip--
Sneaks home for bloodbath.

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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:01 -0400)

(see all 12 descriptions)

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

(summary from another edition)

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

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