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Following the Trojan war and the story of “The Iliad”, “The Odyssey” describes the final portions of Odysseus/Ulysses’s decade-long wanderings in his search for his home, Ithaca. After becoming stranded on the island Ogygia for seven years, the story begins. The poem has a two-pronged storyline which later converge into one; one for the struggles for Odysseus, and the others for the issues taking place in Ithaca. This epic still discusses events from the 12th century B.C.E., and is once again written in Greek by Homer, and takes the form of a poem written in dactylic hexameter. After struggles on both sides of the story, Odysseus finally reunites with his family, and aids in the removal of suitors for his wife who had been causing issues in Ithaca after Odysseus’s long disappearance.
Similar to future Roman works, “The Odyssey” points out cultural qualities that were “honored” and revered in society - here, fidelity is valued. Like “The Iliad”, many references to Greco-Roman mythology are present, and may require a greater understanding of ancient Greek mythology on the part of the reader in order to fully understand the epic.
Similar to “The Iliad”, “The Odyssey” uses many passing references to historical names, groups and events that may require more research to understand. Additionally, heavy topics are discussed in the epic, thus calling for a more mature audience.
Fun, thrilling, and enjoyable. A masterpiece that cannot be put down until it's finished.
Reading this masterpiece by Homer was enhanced by the eloquent teaching of Professor Elizabeth Vandiver in her 12-lecture Great Courses DVD set called "The Odyssey of Homer", available through VPL. Professor Vandiver writes in her booklet that Richmond Lattimore is her preferred translator of "The Odyssey" and "The Iliad", even though she admires two other translators, Robert Fagles, and Robert Fitzgerald. (I really enjoyed the Robert Fagles translation.) It was pure pleasure to read this epic poem for the first time and I can see myself reading it again. "The Odyssey" was never presented to me in my school years as a possibility to read, so it is true that it's never too late to learn! Happiness is reading Homer! I highly recommend VPL's material for "The Iliad by Homer" translated by Robert Fagles, plus Professor Vandiver's Great Courses DVD set, and CD audiobook read by Derek Jacobi.
This translation made reading the Odyssey a joy!
It's always interesting, when entering into a book you've never read before, to see a book defy your expectations. I've read epic poetry before, but none like this, and now I see why THE ODYSSEY is so often considered the backbone of western literature. The reason is how it feels so incredibly modern, despite its age, and this is testimony to the fact that storytelling hasn't changed; what made for a good tale in the days of Homer (assuming a man named Homer even existed), still makes for a good tale in the modern world.
THE ODYSSEY has everything: swashbuckling, adventure, humor, and even copious amounts of gore. This last detail was perhaps the most surprising for me. At every turn someone is disemboweled, beheaded, or tortured, and the verbal descriptions of these deaths are always vivid. At times I felt like I was reading a novel as written by Quentin Tarantino. I would say, however, the violence, while impactful and gory and descriptive, is never vulgar or upsetting or repugnant. That said, it is colorful and graphic.
I don't particularly like Odysseus, but he is very heroic in the Greek sense of the word: he's intelligent and ruthless, and the gods favor his every move. But his journey is one worthy of your time, I think, and the translation I read (the Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition, translated by Robert Fagles, on Kindle) was engaging and colorful and readable. There were plenty of notes throughout the book, serving to explain details to the reader which would have been obvious to the original audience. In this way, the book is allowed to come to life, and come to life it does.
Absolutely epic. You follow Odysseus (also called Ulysses) as he tries to make his way back to home and family after fighting in the Trojan War. This story was passed down in the oral tradition of storytelling, and is full of adventures, gods and goddesses, monsters, losses and intrigue. Required reading in some high school and college courses (I had to read it for more than one college class). Highly recommended and easily readable. Five stars.
The translation I picked maybe the latest. Simple concise but not plain, gave me space to roam the imaginary, in vocal enchantment.
Such experience was eclipsed by my concurrent read of American Ulysses (Grant’s biography). Mighty mythical saga indulged me with fantasy, in Odysseus heroic journey blessed by capricious Athena, I envision full display of mortal weaknesses, till the final vengeful slaughter with little wonder to exhilarate, left me numb to repulsion.
I may read Fagles’ translation in the future.
I had read The Odyssey in college, but that was longer ago than it took Odysseus to make his way home after the Trojan war. Loved this version of the book. Liked the fact that it was translated by a woman. Loved the translator's summaries and notes. Loved the introduction. I couldn't finish the book before I had to return it to the library, so I went and bought my own copy of it. I plan to pass it on as a gift to my son.
Reading this spectacular saga reminded me once again why I love long-winded outrageous yarns. Surely this has to be the tall tale to top them all! No wonder parts of it have become the basis for countless films, operas, essays, poems over the centuries. Completely engrossing; and this translation is wonderful.
Living in the western world it's impossible not to be exposed to some or many of the elements of this story in one form or another and I had paid several less than heroic visits in the past, stopping off at various ports along the way, led by a succession of troubadours beginning with Chapman taking up Homer's tale; but I had never finished the entire journey. None of those interpreters struck me as having captured the true spirit of the age or fleshed out Odysseus' persona as I had hoped. This time, I was happily swept along with Mr. Eagles all the way back to Ithaca. He captured the spirit and rhythm of the tale so well that I was at times tempted to rise out of my silent chair to declaim passages aloud; surely a great achievement when translating from ancient Greek to modern vernacular English.
One is reminded at times that this began as an oral tale, more or less formally set in regular hexameter; accordingly, there are passages that repeat, almost like a refrain punctuating episodes in a long ballad. Far from holding up the progression as one might expect, these interludes serve to raise the tale off the printed page into the immediacy of a verbal performance. All it needed for full effect was the strumming of a lyre and the smell of the wine-dark sea.
Eminently readable new translation of the ultimate adventure tale.
I love everything about this translation, and Wilson's introduction and author's note to the text are some of the most fascinating and thoughtful pieces of literary analysis I've read in ages.
The deviousness and frailty of gods and humans abound. I loved the first three books, the final books, and Athena and Telemachus, but it’s great to have the whole adventure on the seas in ready English syntax.
This is a nice contemporary translation of Homer. Homer translated as verse is almost always better than not and this doesn't disappoint.
The contemporary word use will hopefully get Homer a wider audience, however I suspect the shelf-life of this translation will be relatively short.
This classic poem will not disappoint! I encourage readers to read it for pleasure and not for school. It is more enjoyable then the Iliad. Fully deserves 4.5 stars!!!
This book is awesome! For everyone from age 7 to 85. A great family read.
This (the Martin Hammond translation) is a great translation that's EASY to read, unlike some others I have tried. You can enjoy this epic much more if you actually understand what's going on without having to read each line 3 times over.
Thank you, Mr. Hammond!
Odysseus faces many challenges when traveling back home after fighting in the Trojan war for 10 years. This is one of my favorites because I always loved reading about the monstrous creatures of Greek Mythology and this book consisted of some of my favorites such as sirens and the Cyclops.
One of my favorites because I love reading about the monstrous creatures of Greek mythology and this book consisted of some of my favorites such as the sirens and the cyclops
-Michelle; Teen Volunteer
Homer’s Odyssey is one of the greatest masterpieces ever written. It chronicles the voyages of Odysseus as he makes his way home after the Trojan War. Meanwhile his home has been overrun by suitors for his faithful wife. Not only is the Odyssey a great story, it is also foundational to understand many other great works of literature. Of the translations I’ve read (Fitzgerald, Mandelbaum and parts of Pope and Dryden) Fagels’ is by far my favorite. The introduction by Bernard Knox is also superb.
This poem is fundamental to the Western canon. The reader, John Lee, makes it even more enjoyable. Only a "Vixen!" would say otherwise.