Odyssey (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

Odyssey (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)


The Odyssey, by Homer, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

Long before The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Harry Potter, the ancient Greek poet Homer established the standard for tales of epic quests and heroic journeys with The Odyssey. Crowded with characters, both human and non-human, and bursting with action, The Odyssey details the adventures of Odysseus, king of Ithaca and hero of the Trojan War, as he struggles to return to his home and his waiting, ever-faithful wife, Penelope.

Along the way he encounters the seductive Circe, who changes men into swine; the gorgeous water-nymph, Calypso, who keeps him a “prisoner of love” for seven years; the terrible, one-eyed, man-eating giant Cyclops; and a host of other ogres, wizards, sirens, and gods. But when he finally reaches Ithaca after ten years of travel, his trials have only begun. There he must battle the scheming noblemen who, thinking him dead, have demanded that Penelope choose one of them to be her new husband—and Ithaca’s new king.

Often called the “second work of Western literature” (The Iliad, also by Homer, being the first), The Odyssey is not only a rousing adventure drama, but also a profound meditation on courage, loyalty, family, fate, and undying love. More than three thousand years old, it was the first story to delineate carefully and exhaustively a single character arc — a narrative structure that serves as the foundation and heart of the modern novel. Robert Squillace’s revision of George Herbert Palmer’s classic prose translation captures the drama and vitality of adventure, while remaining true to the original Homeric language.

Robert Squillace teaches in the Cultural Foundations division of New York University’s General Studies Program. He has published numerous essays on literature and the book Modernism, Modernity and Arnold Bennett.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593081676
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 10/01/2004
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Pages: 339
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

The ancient Greek poet Homer established the gold standard for heroic quests and sweeping journeys with his pair of classic epic poems, The Iliad and The Odyssey. Crowded with characters, both human and non-human, and bursting with action, the epic tales detail the fabled Trojan War and the adventures of Odysseus as he struggles to return home. Homer’s epics have inspired countless books and works of art throughout their long history.

Read an Excerpt

From Robert Squillace's Introduction to The Odyssey

When Odysseus awakens from his dream-like voyage on the shore of his own island, he fails to recognize the place, asking: "To what men's land am I come now? Lawless and savage are they, with no regard for right, or are they kind to strangers and reverent toward the gods?" While the mists of Athene have produced the mariner's confusion, his questions do not vanish with their dissipation. Is Ithaca the ordered kingdom he left behind or a new realm of incurable savagery? And, after all the alternative worlds through which we have passed, to what land have we finally come? After meeting Arete and Polyphemus and Anticleia and Achilles and Circe and Calypso and the Sirens and the Lotus-eaters and many others, how do we now perceive Ithaca? The poem offers no unified answers, instead multiplying the complications it has engaged since Telemachus set sail for Pylos.

The first surprise of the Ithacan episode, at least to many modern readers, is its length; the landfall of Odysseus on his home shore marks only about the halfway point of the tale. Homer's buildup to the battle with the suitors is one of the slowest and most suspenseful in literature-even though his original audience knew the outcome from the start. As Alfred Hitchcock once observed, the sudden explosion of a bomb of which viewers know nothing generates a half-second's shock, while the slow ticking of a bomb of whose existence they do know generates a quarter-hour's suspense. Moreover, Homer fills the delay with its own significance. In the period between Odysseus's landing and the fight with the suitors, a series of recognition scenes unfolds, of disguises adopted and then penetrated or let fall. Odysseus reveals himself to his son, Telemachus, and to his loyal swineherd and cowherd. The old dog Argos, who had known his master as a pup, and the old nurse Eurycleia see on their own through the guise of age and poverty that Athene has helped the man of strategies don. To recognize Odysseus means more than simply to know who this particular individual is-or was, for if Odysseus remains unrecognized as the island's patriarch, if he cannot reclaim his old identity, he will become the old beggar he appears to be. To acknowledge the identity of this stranger as Odysseus is, in effect, to acknowledge authority itself, to demonstrate one's acquiescence to the whole system that legitimizes a king's rule. After all, no one who opposes the rights of Odysseus learns who the old beggar really is until he puts an arrow through Antinoüs's throat. Not even such old, disloyal servants as Melantho and Melanthius show the slightest suspicion that the mysterious stranger they enjoy abusing is their dangerous master returned. Only those who submit themselves to the hierarchical system, who recognize their own places, can also recognize Odysseus. Indeed, Argos not only recognizes but directly mirrors his master, who also risks consignment to the dung heap in his disregarded age if he can no longer prove himself the man he used to be, bend the great bow he once wielded, and, in an image suggestive of continued sexual prowess, fire an arrow through a dozen axes.

The Telemachy's emphasis on the twin values of authority and identity dovetail with particular neatness in the token by which Odysseus is known. An old scar received years earlier in a boar hunt, the first heroic episode that vaulted the youth toward his maturity, made him who he is, written into his body so long as he lives. As in the Nekyia, bodily existence-bodily prowess and endurance-measure the value of life; indeed, the scar suggests that one defines oneself by exterior, bodily deeds, not by any individual interior psychology. The violence of Odysseus's reaction to his old nurse's discovery of the scar, a symbol of his passage from boyhood to maturity, even recalls the curt rejection of Penelope by her son, a parallel reinforced by the nurturing role Eurycleia has played for both father and son. In these respects, the return to Ithaca seems also to be a return to the familiar, hierarchical values presented to Telemachus on his miniature odyssey.

And yet identity is never so fluid as it is in the second half of the epic, authority never so elusive. Though the scar represents the absolute fixity of self, what saves Odysseus on Ithaca is his capacity not to be who he is. This same ability to reconstruct himself in accordance with the demands of circumstance freed him from the cave of Polyphemus and taught him how to approach Nausicaä. Were Odysseus merely to weave these impostures to overcome imminent danger, little sense of contradiction with the idea of a solid core of self would result. But such shifting marks Odysseus's character even more deeply than the scar does. So habitually does he transform himself into someone else that by the time he approaches his father, the aged Laërtes, in the guise of yet another wandering stranger, the excuse that he needs to test the old man's loyalty has worn nearly transparent. The hero's tendency to assume other selves has not only come to define him, it connects him most nearly with the divine. For the gods can be anything, as Athene's transformations into man, woman, child, and bird affirm; to be stuck as oneself is to be merely human. Odysseus reaches his apogee not by his glorious force of arms, but by his lies and fictions. In one of the most charming moments of the work, Athene recognizes their unity in owning the divine gift of the creation of what is not: "Bold, shifty, and inexhaustible of lies, will you not now within your land cease from the false misleading tales which from the bottom of your heart you love? . . . you are far the best of men in plots and tales, and I of all the gods am famed for craft and lies." When Odysseus acknowledges of his patron that "You take all forms," he might as well be talking about himself. Nor does the scar suffice to confirm the hero's identity to his feminine alter ego, Penelope. She acknowledges her husband only when he shows that he remembers the secret of their bed. Such a test of identity-with all the erotic overtones that a private, mutual knowledge of the bed evokes, an implicitly carnal knowledge-depends not on the exterior, public reputation preserved in that reminder of past deeds, the scar, but on a private, intangible, even unspeakable knowing of who someone is. Nowhere does the work come closer to identifying the interior sense of desire as the heart of selfhood.

The poem also equivocates in its rhetorical support for the hierarchical system by which the man at the top of the ladder, so long as he acts justly, exercises complete authority to enforce order down to the bottom rung. The careful differentiation the poem makes between the really vicious, the merely weak, and the nearly sympathetic suitors transforms the hero's slaughter of his foes from exultant triumph to, at best, regrettable necessity. While Homer never challenges the morality of Odysseus's actions, this differentiation modulates the emotional tone of his victory. Even more tellingly, the poem refuses to allow the killing of the suitors and their mistresses to be a resolution. Since the first book, the confrontation of Odysseus and the enemies occupying his house has been anticipated as a climax, a final judgment between chaos and authority. Surprisingly, it is nothing of the kind. Indeed, Odysseus's victory lasts only the length of a single night, after which he must embark on a new journey, leaving Penelope yet again to escape the vengeance of his victims' families. In the hills, he gathers fresh support from his father's household; the suitors' families pursue and the fighting begins all over again. Since what the poem seems to have advertised as Odysseus's greatest triumph fails to bring peace, the human capacity to enforce order by strength of arms falls into grave doubt. The killing only stops when the gods command it, forestalling its resumption by blacking out the bitter memories of the survivors. If memory itself leads men to war, how can it be in any king's power to make a lasting peace?

So Ithaca appears after the Odyssean tour of alternative worlds. And yet in a sense we remain in an alternative world even after the hero of the epic has come among the familiar scenes of his homeland: the alternative world of fiction. The second half of the epic makes readers more conscious of storytelling than ever, virtually offering a seminar on the nature and uses of fiction. When Odysseus spends his first night with his wife, he tells her the whole tale of the Odyssey in compressed and chronological form. This condensation neatly contains the epic and at the same time alerts us by contrast to the complexities of the tale's nonchronological, expansive construction. For that matter, little occurs in the poem that is not also narrated; even the suitors tell the story of their slaughter amid the shades of the underworld, delighting Agamemnon. What is real, what lasts, it seems, is the story, not the event. Fictions may, of course, be simple lies; the disguised Odysseus deceives both Eumaeus and Penelope by claiming to be a Cretan veteran of the Trojan War who suffered difficulties among the Phoenicians and Egyptians-and who has encountered the great Odysseus himself. Every detail of this moonshine rings true, the tale confining itself to plausible circumstances among well-known peoples of the Mediterranean coast; as the narrator observes about his surrogate storyteller: "He made the many falsehoods of his tale seem like the truth." No monsters haunt the tracks of Aethon-the name Odysseus adopts in deceiving Penelope-no one hears the Sirens sing, no one changes form, and no one speaks to the dead. Within the confines of the poem, then, the apparently impossible (the actual voyage of Odysseus) is true and the entirely plausible (the journey Odysseus makes up) is false, implicitly suggesting that the truth of a story is not to be found in the accuracy of its events to what we perceive as daily reality, but in their significance, their capacity to show us some previously unknown way of understanding the world.

Most vitally, though, in a work that dwells so continually on the borders-it explores the intersection of living and dead, the flimsy barriers between human and inhuman, the double natures of authority and identity, and so on-the ideal of storytelling is to erase the boundary between the characters within the tale and the listeners outside it. When, in book XIV, a disguised Odysseus tells his swineherd a story of a night he spent outside the gates of Troy when he was cold, the man recognizes the present relevance in the narrative of the past and hands the old beggar a coat. By his reception of the story, Eumaeus proves more than his loyalty to his absent master or the customs of hospitality; he shows his humanity, his willingness to recognize that another man's story is also his own, another man's discomfort his responsibility. To see themselves in the tales of others is precisely what Antinoüs and the other suitors fail to do, despite the explicit invitation of Odysseus, who warns them (in his beggar's rags) that he too prospered once but was brought low. The suitors fail to acknowledge their image in the old man's words-"What god has brought us this pest?" is the substance of Antinoüs's answer-and in so doing exclude themselves from humanity. It comes as little surprise when one of their number mocks poetic diction in aiming an empty jest at the old beggar's baldness. The song reserved for those who fail to read themselves in another's story is only that sung by the bowstring, an analogy the poem makes explicit: "even as one well-skilled to play the lyre and sing stretches with ease round its new peg a cord, securing at each end the twisted sheep-gut; so without effort did Odysseus string the mighty bow." To rule oneself outside the common circle of humanity, in other words, is to die.

Each reader today faces the suitors' choice: to read the story as it concerns himself-or herself-or to turn it aside as an extraordinarily old man's babble. No arrow will pierce the throat of those who make the latter choice. But a contracted sense of humanity may follow. Whether one regards the conflicts that the poem relates as fundamentally the same as or fundamentally different from those of our own time makes little difference. The poem largely does not offer an argument for the validity of the civilization that produced it, but instead allows the reader to view from different angles that world's ideas of life and death, women and men, order and chaos, war and peace, wealth and poverty, and so on. In this way, the Odyssey makes room for many sympathies. Its enduring wisdom is that only by encountering what seems unlike oneself does one come to gain any self-knowledge at all.

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The Odyssey (Marvel Illustrated) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 397 reviews.
ZebraStripe More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing translation; the language is flawless, almost poetic. And, of course, a timless classic. I had to read this book for my English Honors course and expected boredom. However, I was pleasently surprised-- I enjoyed it! It's the story of the Greek hero, Odysseus, after the Trojan War. On the start of his voyage home, he provokes Poseidon, god of the sea. Thus, releasing the god's wrath. Odysseus faces many obstacles, on account of Poseidon's anger, including an encounter with Cyclops, Circe, and the Sirens, and a journey to Hades' Underworld. I would recommend this book to anyone who appreciates classic literature. Though the language does take time to become accustomed to, the hardest part of this book is the vast amount of characters. I recommend composing a list of all the gods and goddesses in addition to demigods and heroes.
extreme-reader08 More than 1 year ago
I am amazed at this book! I was actually required to read this for summer reading and I wasn't exactly thrilled to see how thick it was of pages. But as I read it I became enchanted of the way the words are written and the characters, and the plot! I loved it so much I kept on reading, and before I knew it I was finished with it! An incredible tale written in ancient times that tells the story of an exiled soldier trying to return home with many sinister obstacles bloking his way. A great read for anyone who loves greek mythology, and for people who just love monsters and heroes.
Diangirl More than 1 year ago
Fagles makes this classical story accessible to everyone, using easy to read language while relating the adventures of Aeneas as he leaves Troy after being defeated by the Greeks and makes his way to Italy to found Rome. It contains travel tales like the Oddyssey and battles as in the Illiad. The introduction is also well worth reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book for those who are new to epic poetry, like myself. It's written in prose (in paragraphs, rather than poetic stanzas). Squillace has done a fine job of introducing contemporary terms, where appropriate, without interrupting Homer/Palmer's story-telling rhythm. It's an engaging story, and the characters are fascinating, and I enjoyed it so much that I read all the footnotes at the end. Somewhat-interesting discussion questions at the conclusion. Read the Introduction after you read the book, not before. I wish I could find a translation of the Illiad by Palmer/Squillace, as they did a very good job of making the story, the characters and the language approachable. 'O'Brother Where Art Thou'? Ain't nothing like the real thing, baby.
dirkjohnson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
(This review applies specifically to the HighBridge audiobook. From my point of view, Homer requires no review, being the fountainhead of European, and by extension, American culture.)This is a well-executed reading by Derek Jacobi of the fine Mandelbaum translation. Unfortunately this is an abridgment, and I only realized that it was abridged while listening to it after having already bought it at a bookstore. If the ratings were for the specific execution, I'd give this book (recording) one star because of the fact that it's abridged. It seems very likely to me that there are people who have heard this and believe that they've heard a translation of the Odyssey. They have most definitely not heard a translation of the Odyssey. I would never this audiobook it to anyone except, possibly, someone already very well versed in the available translations of the Odyssey, and maybe to someone who has read Homer in Greek for them to listen to when they go on a driving vacation.If publishers trick me into buying an abridgment, I am far less likely to ever purchase anything from them if I can get it elsewhere. I won't forget that HighBridge didn't prominently display the fact that this was an abridgment.
mnlohman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Okay, I finally forced myself to read it after all these years, and I found it boring,lengthy, slow reading, who cares! The gods are mad at Odysseus, so they put him through hell getting home. He's forced to sleep with a bevy of minor goddesses while his wife is plagued by slimy suitors at home. His son goes in search of him, but after slogging through nearly 200 pages, I gave up. Skip the book and watch "O, brother, Where art Thou?" Far more entertaining!
librarianbryan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've never been inspired by Homer. If you're looking for the blueprint for the best/worst action movie you ever saw here ya go. But in another way it is about fate, are arguably, that's the lesson of the Odyssey. You are not in control. The "gods" are. So just keep on keepin' on. Lombardo's translation is brisk. I recommend it.
jimmaclachlan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm not sure, but I think this was the edition I read & liked the best - I've read several over the years. I liked the 'full' or 'best translated' versions & the highly edited versions the least. There's a happy medium in there. The full versions have a lot characters & stuff going on that doesn't add to the story & just confuses me. When edited too much, the story loses its flavor. The story line, plot, can't be beat. Much of the motivation of the characters seems weak or over-used, but that's only because it is the great-granddaddy of so much of our current literature, of course.
superphoenix on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A thoroughly enjoyable, entertaining book..there is drama, action, romance, mythical creatures, magic, gods and goddesses, and many more. Its not just for those who love classics but should be read by everyone. Its worth the time and one gets to understand why people love the work of Homer so much
Emlyn_Chand on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Preview¿If you¿re looking for a crash course in ancient Greek mythology, there is perhaps no better choice of reading material than the exciting epic poem ¿The Odyssey.¿ The details of Odysseus¿ heroic journey home from the Trojan War were kept alive through oral tradition for hundreds of years before Homer ever set pen to parchment¿which means every detail works together to weave a fascinating and rhythmic tale.Athena, goddess of wisdom, is on Odysseus¿ side. Unfortunately, Poseidon, god of the sea, wants for his destruction. Every time Athena helps him gain some ground, Poseidon finds a way to introduce new difficulties to our hero. Odysseus faces angry gods, lustful goddesses and princesses, tempting sirens, the deadly Scylla and the Charybdis, the haunted underworld, the cursed cattle of the sun, a hungry Cyclops and oh-so much more.When he finally returns home, more than 10 years after the war¿s end, he finds that a group of hostile suitors have taken over his palace in Ithaca. They are all vying for his wife Penelope¿s hand; ultimately whoever she chooses will be made the new ruler. The suitors also have secret designs to murder Odysseus¿ son, Telemachus, thus removing their last remaining obstacle.Penelope, the faithful wife, has through a variety of tricks and stalls been able to put off choosing a groom thus far. Will Odysseus make it home in time to save his family and the kingdom? Even if you already know how the tale ends, it¿s so exciting getting there that you won¿t want to pass up the opportunity to give ¿The Odyssey¿ another look or to read it for the very first time.You may like this book if¿you like Greek mythology; you enjoy epic adventure tales, you like stories written in verse; the thought of gods meddling in the lives of mortals appeals to you; you¿re intrigued by fantastic elements; you¿re looking for something different than much of contemporary literature; you like reading books for free online.You may not like this book if¿you don¿t like stories that couldn¿t really happen; poetry annoys or confuses you; it bothers you that the male gods can take on lovers whenever they want but when Calypso wants the very same thing she isn¿t allowed to have it; you don¿t like how Penelope remains faithful for so many years but Odysseus engages in a string of love affairs.
Tpoi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I resented being forced to read this in high school though even then parts of it struck me as potent, heavy, cool. Reading it aloud in class in college made it come alive, fire dry to tinder (more so than the Illiad which, aside from the actual fighting and the bits of betrayal, was ponderous).
es135 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a harrowing epic tale. While I enjoyed reading it, I think it may have been more effective if I heard it told, much like it would have been when Homer was alive. Regardless, adventure fans should enjoy this.
jpsnow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Perhaps the proof of a classic is that upon reading it one says: I can see why that's a classic. Whether one man or a compilation of storytellers actually wrote this tale, it clearly does well in its role as the first epic and a fundamental tale of early Greece. The struggle is man against god and man against man. It brings out the relationships felt between the early Greeks and their gods in a way none of the shorter myths possibly can. I have always heard of strong parallels between Christian stories and the Greek myths, but have never seen the comparisons as strong as here. Odysseus plays the role first of David, condemned to wander and suffer one setback after another because of the disfavor of Poseidon. And yet upon his return to his own land, the analogy transfers to the role of Christ, with Odysseus returning at a time unknown, with his prophecying it, and clearing his house of the wooers of his bride. He also tests the nature of each man and maid, slaying those untrue to him. Other events of note: his entrapment with Calypso, his leaving and being cast to the shores of the land of Alcinous, the Cyclops, the Lotus-eaters, the men turned to swine, the visit to the edge of Hades (and speaking with relatives, friends, and foe), the Sirens, the return to his own land, his ruse as a beggar, and the slaying of the wooers.
Ameliaiif on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
if only circe had turned the men into guinea pigs...i might have liked this more
BookWallah on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Experienced an unplanned event while traveling? Or feel like you are living through an epic of misfortune that will not end? Or just having a really bad day? If you answered yes to any of these questions then rush to your shelves and re-read a chapter of Odysseus¿ travails on his way home. [Pause for you to finish reading chapter]. OK, deep breath, now your problems don¿t seem so bad, do they? Recommended for all adventurers who need more perspective.
janemarieprice on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This translation is a must read for anyone interested in literature, classics, or history. The pace of the story is amazing with action and adventure mixed in with society and home life.
Elizabeth.Michele on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
How much more can possibly be said about this book?
steve.clason on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read the Odyssey in college (don't remember what translation) and even struggled through bits in Greek in a first-year language class, but I never got what the big deal was. I didn't like Odysseus--raised as I was in a cowboy ethos I took his celebrated cunning as a kind of weakness, believing that a true man delat directly and simply with everything.Some decades later, I am much more sympathetic. Scarred, bruised and broken in places with a head often barely screwed on, I've come to value a little forethought more than I ever did when younger, and come to sympathize with Odysseus' tormented wanderings and to celebrate his eventual triumph profoundly.Fagles' translation is true to the story, readable yet retaining the loftiness of spirit so crucial to the unfolding of the story. I'll be returning to this many times, I think.
akbibliophile on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Everything classic Greek literature should be.
sjstuckey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Absolutely a classic and a must-read for anyone interested in pre-classical Greece.
julie10reads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Just finished listening to the unabridged audiobook of The Odyssey, translated by Samuel Butler (no relation to Gerard Butler) and read in rich, rotund diction by John Lee. Who is, of course, English. I don¿t remember when I first heard the story of Odysseus¿ journey home to Ithaca; seems as if I¿ve always known it.In my 20s,I heard and fell in love with Monteverdi¿s Il Ritorno d¿Ulisse in Patria (which sounds inestimably more luscious in Italian than English:The Return of Ulysses to his Country) from the Met with baritone Richard Stilwell as the wily hero and mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade as Penelope. The joyful babbling of their ecstatic reunion duet brought out the humanity of the characters.And I used to read Tales from the Odyssey by Mary Pope Osborne to my youngest daughter. She is still the only one who shares my enthusiasm for this classic.End of long intro¿..The Odyssey can be enjoyed on many levels. It¿s a great yarn about a shrewd soldier/king making his perilous (and tardy!) way home after the Trojan War (by the way, it was Odysseus who thought up the Trojan horse). It¿s also a wide-ranging allegory about the often perilous journey of life. It abounds in psychological and spiritual archetypes. There¿s something for every kind of reader.As for Odysseus himself, he seems to lie for the sake of lying, is boastful and reckless. His very name means ¿he who causes pain or makes others angry.¿ Early on in the story, having outwitted the cyclops Polyphemus, Odysseus and his men make their escape by boat. When he judges them to be out of danger, Odysseus does a ¿nyah-nyah¿ boasting chant to the cyclops who of course tears the top off a mountain and hurls it at the boat. This causes an enormous wake whose waves draw Odysseus¿ boat back to shore! The sailors row like mad to get away from the shore. When they are at a safe distance, our wily hero starts up with the ¿nyah-nyah¿ chant again! His poor men beg him to stop.In the Iliad, it was all manly soldiers fighting other manly soldiers to recover the prize trophy wife, Helen. Conservative, stylistic, a time already ancient when Homer sang of it . By contrast, the Odyssey looks to the future, reflecting a new culture currently stable enough to become introspective. Odysseus¿ journey home is populated by women/goddesses and monsters. No all out war any more, army against army, face-to-face combat. Rather the enemy becomes singular, hidden in caves or in the bodies of beautiful women or ¿lotus-eaters¿. While completely enjoyable on a literal level, the story is also leading the listener, as all good stories do, into the realm of the inner life. It seems to me that few could identify with Achilles or Hector or Helen. However, we are all Odysseus and Penelope and Telemachus in one way or another. Homecoming can be almost anything: love,death, faith, consciousness. Likewise waiting. Back to the story¿..The women want to sleep with Odysseus and the monsters want to eat him. The monsters ultimately succeed in devouring his crew leaving the ageing soldier to finish the journey alone. Polyphemus, Calypso, Circe, Scylla and Charibdis, the eponymous Mentor, Poseidon, and Athena make this a mythological all-star story. But for me, none of them can rival Penelope in character and depth. She is the other half of the ¿wily¿ Odysseus and I think that we can extrapolate much about her from what is said about him. She is the modern ¿Helen¿:the kidnapped trophy wife appropriate for the old militaristic nation becomes the faithful wife and mother who waits 20 years (!) for the return of her husband. It only requires one man, Paris, to steal Helen away (she seems to have been agreeable to the idea). Yet an invading mob of suitors cannot coerce Penelope into abandoning her absent husband. Helen¿s is ¿the face that launched a thousand ships¿; Penelope holds herself in readiness for one ship only. Her waiting is not in the least passive however. Her husband¿s goal is to reach home; Penelop
Jsaj on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great story, but can be a bit hard to read. Some of the phrases used in this translation are a bit weird- I suppose they were chosen to fit the rhythm, but it doesn't really fit. However, it is a very readable translation and the story is, of course, excellent.
bibliophile26 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Before now, I'd only read portions of this that were assigned in high school and college. Reading the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series (see book 55) inspired me to read it from cover to cover. It is a great classic book, but the repetition of things (Odysseus' story was retold to many people) drove me crazy and I thought Odysseus was never going to reveal his identity and confront the suitors. Now I need to reread The Iliad. I'm going to try to read at least one classic book each summer.
auntieknickers on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Still a classic translation although there are several more recent.
hlselz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've read this one twice for school and I really like it. Its all about life, and the struggle to find ourselves, and our way home.