The Odyssey

by

560 pages

English language

Published July 9, 2006

ISBN:
978-0-14-303995-2
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4 stars (237 reviews)

The Odyssey (; Greek: Ὀδύσσεια, Odýsseia, Attic Greek: [o.dýs.sej.ja]) is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is one of the oldest extant works of literature still read by contemporary audiences. As with the Iliad, the poem is divided into 24 books. It follows the Greek hero Odysseus, king of Ithaca, and his journey home after the Trojan War. After the war itself, which lasted ten years, his journey lasts for ten additional years, during which time he encounters many perils and all his crewmates are killed. In his absence, Odysseus is assumed dead, and his wife Penelope and son Telemachus must contend with a group of unruly suitors who compete for Penelope's hand in marriage. The Odyssey was originally composed in Homeric Greek in around the 8th or 7th century BCE and, by the mid-6th century BCE, had become part of the Greek literary …

195 editions

Review of 'The Odyssey' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

An almost startlingly approachable translation. As others, including Ms. Wilson, have written, the translation brings out the complexity of Odysseus' character. I haven't read The Odyssey in a long time, so I'm not sure if it also brings out the violence in the story or if I had merely forgotten it.

reviewed The Odyssey by Homer

Clear and accessible

No rating

After reading several translations of The Odyssey (Butcher, Murray, Rieu, Fagles, Lattimore etc…) over the years, I was curious to experience a more contemporary treatment, hence picking up this one.

Wilson’s translation is clear and easy to comprehend. I found it a much faster read than previous translations, although admittedly I was poring over those ones for a dissertation. (I forget which one(s) came in rhyming couplets, but ohboy!)  If you’ve read my other reviews, you’ll know I tend to prefer prose that isn’t too ornate, but I wouldn’t have minded a touch more richness here. While I generally liked the straightforward language, sometimes the wily Odysseus seemed to express himself more honestly and self-critically than I’d expect. Additionally, I didn’t often feel inclined to linger over particular passages.

As a bonus, I did notice descriptive details that I hadn’t previously paid much attention to (such as the storeroom Penelope …

Review of 'The Odyssey' on 'Storygraph'

5 stars

(review of the Emily Wilson translation. GoodReads is piss poor at managing merged editions, so added for clarity)

A sparkling translation that brings something new and vibrant to the work. Easy to read, it drew me in and I finished it in a single sitting. I think this'll inspire and invite a whole slew of new people to Homer. I hope so, anyway.

Review of 'The Odyssey' on 'Storygraph'

5 stars

This translation of the book reads like a novel, not a poem: It’s the first time I’ve been able to read poetry without forgetting each word the moment I read it.
This is in large part thanks to the kind of language Emily Wilson uses. In her introduction she explains that other translations often use some sort of old fanshioned English. Which makes reading the book unnecessarily complicated. The story itself is very old, filled with customs and ideas that are hard to understand for a modern western person like myself, there is no need to make it even harder by using some sort of English that people spoke 50 years ago.
Another reason I think this book reads so well is because Emily Wilson is a woman. She explains in her introduction that this is definitely of influence on the end result. While it is impossible to turn the …

Review of 'The Odyssey' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

I have really wanted to read "The Odyssey" and other Greek literature for a number of years but somehow have missed it. Works like "The Odyssey" are such a deep part of Western culture that even if you have not read it, you know about its general plot and many interesting interludes - the Cyclops, the Sirens, the Lotus Eaters, monstrous sea creatures, evil suitors, and lots of shipwrecks. The word "odyssey" invokes the idea of journey and discovery.

Now that I finally have read "The Odyssey," I can see why it is a cornerstone of Western literature. I genuinely enjoyed the experience. Indeed, I would claim that reading the work is not simply reading an ancient work of fiction but is an experience that draws you in. What surprised me about the work is the surprising level of pathos and emotion. It is not only the emotions of Odysseus …

Review of 'The Odyssey' on 'Goodreads'

No rating

Can't think of any fair criteria or basis of comparison by which to assign a star rating to this book. Homer's world and values are strange and in certain respects repellent to the modern reader. This is not to say it's difficult to read, just that there's an opaque, alien feeling to the material. But it's rich in incident and moves along briskly. It took me a long time to get through, though, because I was reading it in tandem with Joyce's Ulysses.

Review of 'The Odyssey' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

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 …

Review of 'The Odyssey' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

I have been intrigued by the "7 Plots" idea in literary criticism lately, the idea that all stories follow and riff-upon fundamental archetypes.

In reading one of the Western World's first works of literature, I think I had a sense of the timelessness of story telling. And it was a great story. I especially liked the hero being warned by the shade in Hades that Odysseus shouldn't expect his wife to be 100% thrilled and convinced by his comeback and to maybe prep her a bit.

This translation was an ambitious choice; at times I did wish I'd chosen a somewhat more concise one.

One word choice was jarring: characters got off "scot free" several times. I thought Scotland hadn't been invented yet in the time of Homer? True enough, but the phrase comes from "skot" which is an ancient word for a tax or tribute and the phrase "scot …

Review of 'The Odyssey' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

A wonderful adventure, so much better than the Iliad. One of those classic stories that you have heard of bits and pieces from here and there; probably from the odd movie, this is the book a lot of it has been taken from. Sirens and Cyclops and vengeful Gods, King's and queens and backstabbing traitors. For a book that was written so long ago this quite the action packed adventure. Well written with the odd twist here and there. I'll be re-reading this one day.

Review of 'The Odyssey' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

After having read The Iliad in the summer of 1998, I just kept on going and read this book as well. If you like adventure, this is a classic. If nothing else, you can get a sense of where a lot of the adventure stories got their roots, so to speak.

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