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The Odyssey: (The Stephen Mitchell Translation)

The Odyssey: (The Stephen Mitchell Translation)

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The Odyssey: (The Stephen Mitchell Translation)

4/5 (54 valutazioni)
576 pagine
10 ore
1 ott 2013


From Stephen Mitchell, the renowned translator whose Iliad was named one of The New Yorker’s Favorite Books of 2011, comes a vivid new translation of the Odyssey, complete with textual notes and an illuminating introductory essay.

The hardcover publication of the Odyssey received glowing reviews: The New York Times praised “Mitchell’s fresh, elegant diction and the care he lavishes on meter, [which] brought me closer to the transfigurative experience Keats describes on reading Chapman’s Homer”; Booklist, in a starred review, said that “Mitchell retells the first, still greatest adventure story in Western literature with clarity, sweep, and force”; and John Banville, author of The Sea, called this translation “a masterpiece.”

The Odyssey is the original hero’s journey, an epic voyage into the unknown, and has inspired other creative work for millennia. With its consummately modern hero, full of guile and wit, always prepared to reinvent himself in order to realize his heart’s desire—to return to his home and family after ten years of war—the Odyssey now speaks to us again across 2,600 years.

In words of great poetic power, this translation brings Odysseus and his adventures to life as never before. Stephen Mitchell’s language keeps the diction close to spoken English, yet its rhythms recreate the oceanic surge of the ancient Greek. Full of imagination and light, beauty and humor, this Odyssey carries you along in a fast stream of action and imagery. Just as Mitchell “re-energised the Iliad for a new generation” (The Sunday Telegraph), his Odyssey is the noblest, clearest, and most captivating rendition of one of the defining masterpieces of Western literature.
1 ott 2013

Informazioni sull'autore

Homer is a legendary ancient Greek epic poet, traditionally said to be the creator of the epic poems the Iliad and the Odyssey. Homer's works form the groundwork of the Western Canon and are universally praised for their genius. Their formative influence in shaping many key aspects of Greek culture was recognized by the Greeks themselves, who considered him as their instructor.

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The Odyssey - Homer

Book 1

Sing to me, Muse, of that endlessly cunning man

who was blown off course to the ends of the earth, in the years

after he plundered Troy. He passed through the cities

of many people and learned how they thought, and he suffered

many bitter hardships upon the high seas

as he tried to save his own life and bring his companions

back to their home. But however bravely he struggled,

he could not rescue them, fools that they were—their own

recklessness brought disaster upon them all;

they slaughtered and ate the cattle of Hélios,

so the sun god destroyed them and blotted out their homecoming.

Goddess, daughter of Zeus, begin now, wherever

you wish to, and tell the story again, for us.


All the Achaeans who had survived the war

and the voyage home had long since returned to their houses.

That man alone still longed for his land and his wife;

the beautiful nymph Calypso was keeping him

inside her cavern, wanting to make him her husband.

But when the revolving seasons at last brought round

the year that the gods had appointed for his homecoming

to Ithaca, not even then was he free of troubles

and among his own people. All the gods pitied him

except for Poseidon, who worked with relentless malice

against him, until the day when he reached his own country.


But that god had gone to visit the distant race

of the Ethiopians, out at the edge of the world

(they live in two different regions: half of them where

the sun god sets, and half of them where he rises);

they had sacrificed hundreds of bulls and rams, and he sat

at the banquet, delighted. Meanwhile the other immortals

were assembled in Zeus’s palace on Mount Olympus,

and the father of men and gods was the first to speak.

He felt troubled because he was thinking now of Ægísthus,

whom Oréstes, Agamemnon’s son, had just killed.

Thinking of him, he spoke out to the assembly:

"How ready these mortals are to accuse the gods!

They say that all evils come from us, though their own

recklessness brings them grief beyond what is fated:

Beyond his fair share Ægísthus slept with the wife

of Agamemnon, then murdered him when he came home.

He knew this would end in disaster; we ourselves told him

when we sent down Hermes to caution him not to kill

that man or to touch his wife, since vengeance would come

from Oréstes once he reached manhood and longed for his country.

That is what Hermes said, but his kind words didn’t

convince Ægísthus, and now he has paid for his crimes."


To this, the gray-eyed goddess Athena answered,

"Father of us, sovereign above all rulers,

clearly Ægísthus deserved to be killed, and so does

anyone else who commits such crimes. But my heart

aches for Odysseus, that ill-fated man, who for so long

has been pining away, far from his friends and family,

upon a remote island, imprisoned there

by Calypso, the daughter of Atlas, that brutal Titan

whose sight can pierce to the depths of the sea and who guards

the lofty pillars that separate Earth from heaven.

She is the one who detains that unfortunate man;

ceaselessly, with her soft, insidious words,

she tries to entice him and make him forget his homeland,

Ithaca; but Odysseus, heartsick to glimpse

even a wisp of smoke from his own chimneys,

longs to die. Yet you are untouched by his sorrow.

Didn’t his many sacrifices at Troy

win your approval? What do you have against him,

Father, that you have made him suffer this way?"


Zeus responded, "How can you say such a thing,

my dear child? I could never forget Odysseus,

that excellent man, who surpasses all mortals in wisdom

and has sacrificed to the gods more than all others.

The truth is that Poseidon the Earthshaker holds

a grudge against him: He hates him for blinding the eye

of Polyphémus the Cyclops, who is his son,

conceived by the nymph Thöósa, daughter of Phorcys,

the Old Man of the Sea, when she made love with Poseidon

in her ocean cave. And my brother, ever since then,

has relentlessly stood in Odysseus’s way; he stops

short of killing him, but he torments his heart

by keeping him stranded, far from his own dear country.

But now it is time. Let all of us who are here

think of a way to bring him back home. Poseidon

will have to swallow his anger; he won’t be able

to resist the will of all the immortal gods."


To this, the gray-eyed goddess Athena answered,

"Father of us, sovereign above all rulers,

if it is acceptable now to the blessèd gods

that Odysseus at last should return to his own dear country,

let us send Hermes the Messenger to Ogýgia

to tell that beautiful nymph of our firm decision

to let Odysseus go home. In the meantime I

myself will go down to Ithaca and put courage

into the heart of his son and urge him to call

a great assembly and speak out in front of the suitors,

who, every day, kill more of his sheep and cattle.

And then I will send him to Sparta and sand-swept Pylos;

perhaps he will hear some news of his father’s return

and will win the praise of mankind for his exertions."


When she finished, she tied on a pair of beautiful sandals,

and down to Earth she flew from the heights of Olympus

to the isle of Ithaca, and at Odysseus’s gateway

she landed, in front of his house, at the courtyard’s entrance.

Holding a heavy bronze spear in her hand, she appeared

in the form of a stranger: Mentes, the Táphians’ king.

She found the suitors sitting outside the door

on hides of Odysseus’s oxen that they themselves

had slaughtered; they were taking their ease and playing

at backgammon. Heralds and servants bustled around,

some mixing wine and water for them in large bowls,

others carving them lavish portions of meat

or wiping the tables with sponges and setting the food out.


Telemachus was the first of the men to see her.

He was sitting among the suitors, troubled at heart,

daydreaming that his great father had come back home

from wherever he was and had driven the suitors out headlong

and regained his honors and ruled his house once again.

As he imagined all this, he caught sight of Athena,

and he hurried straight to the entrance, ashamed that a guest

had been waiting, neglected, at the front door. He went up,

clasped her right hand and took her spear, and he said,

"Welcome, sir. You will find me a courteous host.

Have something to eat, then tell me why you have come here."


With these words he led the way, and Athena followed.

And when they entered the palace, he placed her spear

upright inside the spear rack, against a tall pillar,

along with the many spears that belonged to Odysseus.

He led her to a magnificent chair, and upon it

he spread a fine linen cloth and had her sit down,

and he pulled out a stool for her feet. Then he drew up

a smaller chair for himself, apart from the suitors,

so his guest would not be disturbed by their noise, their rudeness,

and their insolence, and turn with disgust from the meal;

besides, he wanted to ask some questions about

his absent father. Soon a handmaid came up

with a beautiful golden jug, and she poured clear water

over their hands as they rinsed them, catching it in

a silver basin, and then she placed by their side

a table of polished wood. And a carver served them

with platters of all kinds of meats, and two golden cups,

which a herald kept coming back to refill with wine.


Then all the suitors entered and took their places

on benches and chairs throughout the hall. Their attendants

poured water over their hands, and the serving women

brought out large wicker baskets piled high with bread,

and they helped themselves to the food that was set before them.

And when they had eaten and drunk as much as they wanted,

the suitors turned their attention to other matters,

to singing and dancing, which are the crown of a feast.

A herald brought out a beautiful lyre and gave it

to Phémius the poet, who sang for the suitors

against his will; they forced him to entertain them.

So, sweeping the strings, he struck the first chords of the prelude.


As Phémius played, Telemachus said to Athena,

with his head bent close so that nobody else would hear him:

"Dear stranger, I hope that you will not be offended

if I speak my mind. Those men over there—it is easy

for them to think of nothing but singing and dancing;

they are spongers, consuming someone else’s estate

without paying for it—someone whose white bones lie

out in the rain, washed up on some distant shore,

or tumble about in the pounding waves of the sea.

If he ever returned to Ithaca, you can be certain

that each one of them would pray to be faster, not richer.

But that man has certainly died by now. It is hopeless,

and we have no consolation, even if someone

came to assure us that someday he will return.

He never will. But tell me, and tell me truly:

Who are you and who are your parents? Where do you come from?

And tell me also—I really would like to know—

if this is your first time here. Or are you a friend

of my father’s? He used to entertain many guests

in the old days, and used to visit a lot as well."


Athena answered, "Certainly I will tell you.

I am Mentes, son of Anchíalus, and I am king

of the seafaring Táphians. I and my crew have put in here

on our voyage to foreign lands. We are bound for Cyprus,

bringing a cargo of iron to trade for copper.

I am indeed a friend of your father’s, and have been

for a very long time. Just go and ask Lord Laértes.

I hear he no longer comes to the town but stays

out on his farm and lives a hard life, with only

one old woman as his attendant, who serves him

with food and drink when exhaustion takes hold of his limbs

as he trudges back home across the slopes of his vineyard.

I have come here because men said that he had appeared—

your father. But now I can see they were wrong; the gods

are still delaying his journey. He isn’t dead, though;

I am sure of that. He must be alive still, somewhere,

on some desolate island, far out at sea, a captive

of savage tribesmen, who keep him against his will.

I am no seer or soothsayer, but the immortals

have put a prophecy into my mind; I am certain

that it will come true. And this is what I foresee:

Odysseus will soon return to his own dear country.

Even if he is bound up in iron chains,

he will find some way to escape—he is a man

of infinite cunning. But tell me now: Are you really

his son? You must be. You certainly look like him;

with your face and your handsome eyes, it is really quite

an amazing resemblance. Oh, I remember him well.

We spent a great deal of time together before

he sailed to Troy with the rest of the Argive commanders,

though since that day we have never set eyes on each other."


Telemachus, that sensible young man, said,

"Friend, I will speak as frankly as you have spoken.

My mother says that I am his son, though of course

I cannot know that; no man can ever be sure

who his own father is. But I wish that I were

the son of some man who was blessed to attain old age

at home with his family, enjoying his own possessions.

As it is, the one who everyone says is my father

must be the most unfortunate of all men."


Athena answered, "Yet surely the gods have apportioned

great honor to you and your line, since Penelope

gave birth to such an excellent son. But tell me:

Who are these fellows? What are they doing here

carrying on like this? I have never seen such

a rowdy, insolent crowd of gluttons, carousing

in every room of your palace. Any good man

would be disgusted at such indecent behavior."


Telemachus said, "You may well ask me, my friend.

This house was once rich and orderly, when the man

we are speaking of lived here. Since then, the gods in their malice

have changed their plans and have made him vanish from sight

as no other man has. I wouldn’t have grieved so much

if he had been cut down among his comrades at Troy,

for then the Achaean commanders would have built him

a funeral mound, and he would have won lasting fame

for his son as well. But the storm winds have swept him away

without a trace; he has gone and left me with nothing

but sorrow and tears. Nor do I mourn just for him,

since the gods have brought down other troubles upon me.

All the princes who rule the neighboring islands

of Dulíchion, Samē, and forest-covered Zacýnthus,

and the noblemen who have power in Ithaca—all

these men are courting my mother, and as they do

they devour my possessions. And though she hates the idea

of remarrying, she can neither reject it outright

nor can she choose. Meanwhile these men are destroying

my inheritance, and soon they will bring me to ruin."


Deeply indignant, Pallas Athena answered,

"What gall! If only Odysseus could be here now

to wipe out this arrogant mob, and stood at the door

with his helmet and shield, and spears in his hands, as strong

and vigorous as he was the first time I saw him

in our palace, taking his pleasure in wine and food.

He was traveling back from Éphyra, after a visit

to Ilus, the son of Mérmerus; he had sailed there

in search of a deadly poison to spread on the bronze

tips of his arrows. Ilus refused to supply it,

in reverence for the eternal gods. But my father,

who was very fond of Odysseus, gave it to him.

If he still is the man he was at that time, and came

to confront these fellows, they would all meet with a swift

death and a bitter marriage. But such things lie

in the hands of the gods, of course, whether or not

he returns to take vengeance upon them in his own house.

Meanwhile you need to act and come up with a way

to get rid of the suitors. Early tomorrow morning

call an assembly; invite the lords of this island

and lay out your case before them. Call on the gods

as your witnesses, and command the suitors to leave.

And here is some further advice; I hope you will listen.

Take your best ship and man it with twenty oarsmen,

and set out to look for your father, who has been gone

for so long. Maybe someone has seen him, or maybe

you will hear some rumor of him that turns out to be true.

First go to Pylos and interview Nestor; from there

go on to Sparta, to Menelaus, since he was

the last to return of all the Achaean commanders.

And if you hear that your father is still alive

and on his way home, just grit your teeth and hold out

for one more year. But if you should learn of his death,

come back at once, build him a tomb, and perform

all the funeral honors that are his due,

then give your mother in marriage to a new husband.

And when you return, start thinking of how to kill

these insolent suitors, whether you do it by stealth

or attack them openly. It is no longer fitting

for you to act like a child, since you are a man now.

Haven’t you heard what fame Oréstes has won

all over the world because he cut down Ægísthus,

the treacherous man who murdered his father? You too—

and I see what a tall and well-built young fellow you are—

must act boldly, so that men of the future will praise you.

But now I have to go back to my ship and comrades,

who are probably growing impatient at this delay.

I leave the matter to you. Think my words over."


Telemachus said, "Friend, you have spoken to me

with great kindness, as a father would speak to his son,

and I will not forget your words. But though you are eager

to go to your ship, stay here with me in the palace

until you have taken a bath and refreshed yourself.

Then you can leave with a beautiful gift, the kind

of precious thing that a host gives an honored guest."


Athena answered, "Don’t keep me here any longer;

I need to be on my way now. As for your gift,

choose some treasure, and hold it for me until

I stop here on my way back. And I assure you

you won’t lose in the exchange when you visit my house."


Then, in an instant, Athena disappeared, flying

up through the air like a bird. And she filled his heart

with strength and courage, and brought his father to mind

more vividly than ever. He felt the change

and was wonder-struck; he knew that a god had been with him.

And at once he rejoined the suitors, godlike himself.


The famous poet was singing for them, and they sat

and listened to him in silence. He sang the bitter

tale of the Achaeans’ homecoming from Troy

and the misery that Athena caused them. Upstairs,

Penelope, Icárius’s wise daughter,

heard his inspired singing, and from her room

in the women’s quarters she walked down the great staircase,

and two of her handmaids followed closely behind her.

And when she came near the suitors, she stopped and stood

by one of the roof-bearing pillars, holding her veil

across her face, and a handmaid stood on each side.

And as tears filled her eyes, she spoke to the god-touched poet:

"Phémius, you have other tales to enchant us—

marvelous tales that you might choose, of the doings

of men and gods, which our poets have celebrated.

Sing one of these to the company as they listen

in silence and drink their wine. But sing us no more

of this dismal tale, which always harrows my heart,

since beyond all other women I have been pierced

by unassuageable sorrow as I remember

and ceaselessly mourn my beloved husband, a man

whose glory has spread throughout all Hellas and Argos."


Telemachus said to her, "Mother, why this request?

Would you really deny our poet the right to please us

however the spirit moves him? It isn’t the poets

who are to blame for what happens, but Zeus himself;

he deals with each of us mortals as he sees fit.

We shouldn’t criticize Phémius when he sings

of the Danäans’ wretched fate, since men always give

their highest praise to the newest song they have heard.

So don’t be upset. Have courage, Mother, and listen.

Odysseus isn’t the only hero who died

at Troy; there were many other good men who were killed there."


In astonishment at his strong words, she went upstairs

to her private quarters, pondering what he had said.

She went to her bedroom, accompanied by her maids,

and there she mourned and wept for her husband until

Athena closed her eyelids in lovely sleep.


Meanwhile the suitors were making a huge commotion,

each man longing to take her to bed. In the midst

of all that noise, Telemachus shouted out:

"Be quiet, all of you! Stop this disgraceful uproar!

Let us enjoy the banquet with dignity,

for it is a fine thing to listen to such a poet

as the one we have here, whose singing is like a god’s.

And tomorrow morning, let us all take our seats

in the meeting-place. I want to announce in plain words

my decision that you must leave my palace. Go now;

feast somewhere else, and eat up your own provisions,

moving from house to house. But if it seems better

to destroy one man’s estate and pay nothing for it,

then don’t stop. I will call on the heavenly gods,

in the hope that Zeus will send you what you deserve

and will let me destroy you right here, without reprisal."


Amazed at the young man’s boldness, each of the suitors

seethed with anger and thought about how to respond.

At last Antínoüs, son of Eupíthes, answered,

"Telemachus, the gods themselves must have taught you

to speak to us in this blustering, arrogant way.

I just pray that Zeus won’t ever let you be king

of Ithaca, though it is what your father bequeathed you."


Telemachus said, "Antínoüs, I must tell you

that I would be glad to accept that rank if Zeus grants it.

It is kind of you to be so concerned for my welfare,

but I can assure you, it isn’t bad to be king:

One’s house becomes wealthy, and one is held in more honor.

I realize that there are plenty of other princes

here on Ithaca, any of whom might rule

now that Odysseus is dead—and good luck to that man.

But I will at least be master of my own house

and of all the slaves that my father left in my keeping."


At once Eurýmachus, son of Pólybus, answered,

"Telemachus, it is up to the gods to decide

who will be king of Ithaca. By all means

keep your possessions; be master of your own house,

and may nobody ever rob you of what is

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  • (5/5)
    A wonderful translation, easy to read and to understand. But thank goodness for the intro.Hard to believe but I've never read this before. And rather than get lost in the lengthy introduction, I jumped ahead and just began the tale itself. It was hard to put down and I sped right through it, but by the end I was thinking, "Boy, these people were weird", so thank goodness for that intro, which I started after finishing the main work. One of the first things mentioned is that no one in the ancient world, at any time, acted or spoke like these people. So that was one question answered.
  • (5/5)
    The Odyssey is well worth reading not only to experience a story that has so heavily influenced Western literature, but also because, as appalling of a hero as Odysseus may be, it's a fun story. In all its extravagance, it set the standard for epic adventures.I cannot recommend Emily Wilson's translation enough. It is beautiful and fluid. She maintains a poetic rhythm yet the language is modern and clear. It's worth the extra time to read it out loud so you can truly savor the language for both its flow and the way it captures the sentiments of the characters.For those with several Odysseys under their belt, I would still recommend this version, if for no other reason than to read her introduction. Her analysis of the story is brilliant.
  • (5/5)
    One of the single greatest books, EVER. Written.!!! !!! !!!

  • (5/5)
    Wilson's translation of the Odyssey is excellent, but the real value is her introductory material and notes, including the three maps of the world of The Odyssey and of the actual classical Greek world. As for the translation, my Greek is not adequate to comment but it reads very well, lively and yet true to the Homeric conventions. The pace is brisker than that of the archaic translations I have previously read, and more like contemporary English than some of the more modern. I even found myself sympathizing with different characters as I read. And I noticed some character development, in Telemachus, for example.
  • (3/5)
    This was a book I decided to tackle with audiobook and I thought it came across better listening to a narrator. Will give the Iliad go to.
  • (4/5)
    Having trouble getting through the more academic poetic translations? I totally recommend the modern prose tranlsation by Eickhoff. Reads more like a novel than an esoteric, long-ago epic. Not that he can erase Homer's overarching misogynism, but that's a story for another day ;).
  • (4/5)
    Still a classic translation although there are several more recent.
  • (4/5)
    This was not at all what I expected. I had steeled myself to reading a long flowering epic poem that would be repetitive and impossible to understand. Instead, I found this to be surprisingly readable and even more surprisingly interesting. A few things really helped me on my journey. I was reading and listening to this book using the Fagles translation which is narrated by Ian McKellen - excellent! I also listened in parallel to Elizabeth Vandiver's lectures about The Odyssey. There are only 12 lectures, but she adds so much background to the story that it added the depth and perspective I needed to make this a very enjoyable read.
  • (5/5)
    Condensed version of the incredible epic, though Odysseus does not loose his luster even in Spanish. He continues to be a hero you wish to see home, but know he has many flaws that he needs to work on.
  • (4/5)
    The epic Grecian journey detailed in The Odyssey has appealed to all age groups for untold generations. Odysseus's desperate attempt to return home, despite numerous evils that beset his crew (such as Sirens and Cyclopes), is almost always required reading in High School courses.Not only does it grant students a glimpse into ancient culture and mythology.Note: Contains graphic violence, although it is in verse form
  • (5/5)
    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.
  • (5/5)
    I read The Iliad shortly before reading The Odyssey. I found The Odyssey by far the better book: it's structure is clever, starting in medius res, and then giving the hero a chance to fill in the gaps later.It contains a lot of the classic episodes that are often retold in different settings: the sirens, the cyclops, scylla and charibdis, the beguiling woman who keeps the hero hostage.The only bit that I felt dragged a bit was when Odysseus returned to Ithaca as a beggar and stayed with the swineherd. But other than that, it was a surprisingly good read for a classic that dates back to ancient Greece.
  • (5/5)
    After the ten-year Trojan War ends the warriors return to their home lands. Odysseus’ journey is longer than most because he has angered Poseidon. He runs into one obstacle after another as he fights to return to his wife and son. He fights a Cyclops, travels to the land of the dead, narrowly misses the call of the sirens and spends years trapped on Calypso's island. When he finally returns to Ithaca his home is filled with suitors attempting to woo his wife. I first read The Odyssey in high school, rereading it a decade later was a very different experience. This time I paid much more attention to Penelope’s story. She is such an incredible character. Her loyalty and patience is remarkable. Even though her husband has been gone for 20 years she still holds out that he is alive and will return to her. It made me wonder how long someone would wait nowadays. Obviously there were fewer communication options back then, but still a couple decades is a long time to hang on to hope. Penelope is surrounded by suitors and keeps them at bay by telling them she’ll consider them once she finishes what she’s weaving. She weaves all day and then at night she undoes everything she’s woven. Margaret Atwood wrote an interesting novella about her story, The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus.I enjoyed his son Telemachus’ journey. When his father leaves he is only a baby, but he’s grown to become a man in Odysseus’ absence and he longs to find his father. He isn’t sure if he should search for his father or stay and protect his mother, it’s a difficult decision. For me, it’s important that Odysseus is not a god. He is just a mortal man. So many of the stories in Greek literature are about the gods or demigods. Odysseus is neither, he occasionally has help from the gods, like Athena, at other times he is persecuted by the gods, especially Poseidon, but he has none of their powers. He must rely on his intelligence and cunning to outsmart his captors. BOTTOM LINE: An absolute must for classic lovers. It’s also one of the most accessible pieces of Greek literature and a gateway drug into that world. p.s. This time around I listened to the Robert Fagles translation on audio and it was read by the magnificent Ian McKellen. I would highly recommend it!  
  • (3/5)
    I read this book as an assignment in school so ... it's was not necessary my like or my choice, but I think it was a goodread ( :) ), isn't it a classic after all? I get confused between the Illiad and the Odyssey - that's how concentrated I was but I have always thought and made a mental note to read it later in my life. It is later in my life now ... mmm
  • (5/5)
    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; Penelope’s goal is to keep her property and marriage intact until Odysseus returns. This demands skill and cunning equal to her husband’s. I felt entertained and enriched as I listened to The Odyssey on my drive to and from work (for about 2 weeks). Narrator John Lee brings a virile sound to Homer’s lines. You can almost hear him enjoying the story as he reads. I highly recommend this way of experiencing The Odyssey; it is an oral work designed to arouse the intellect through the sounds of precisely chosen words. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy it!10 out of 10!
  • (5/5)
    Robert Fagles once again preserves the timeless nature of the human spirit in Homer's The Odyssey. Odysseus portray the the endurance of the human spirit against all odds. Although Odysseus is favored by the gods for his wit and courage, he is damned by Poseidon to roam the seas for 10 years before reaching his beloved home of Ithaca. During these ten years Odysseus encounters many entertaining conflicts and characters. The Odyssey accounts for the greek heroes famous journey and struggle to finally have peace at his home.
  • (5/5)
    How much more can possibly be said about this book?
  • (4/5)
    Confession time: I managed to make it through high school and an undergrad degree in English without reading The Odyssey or The Iliad.I know... One of my professors was appalled too. The truth is, as I find verse difficult to being with, epic poetry scares me. If it weren't for a friend's encouragement to read it in tandem, I probably would have let this languish on my shelves even longer despite the fact that I'd purposely bought Robert Fagles' translation as one I could pretty much follow what was happening.Everyone knows the story the gist of the story, so I'll dispense with the summary. The story starts out slowly with Odysseus' son and what's going on in his absence; it wasn't until around Book 5 that the action started moving along for me. One moment I was moving along swimmingly and the next I was getting bogged down. One moment was boring and the next brutally violent. I knew the end of the story, but I was really surprised by how at once familiar and unfamiliar I was with how the journey played out. On the one hand, I recognized a lot of the characters and incidents. On the other, I had no idea they happened in this particular myth in this particular way. I usually read multiple books, and admittedly this was not the first book I was drawn to read when I had the time, but I kept moving along and - in the end - I'm glad I read it.
  • (5/5)
    Everything classic Greek literature should be.
  • (4/5)
    What else could you select while sailing the Med if not a previous voyage across a similar sea? I thought this was going to be a hard read, but it really wasn't. In part, I think, that is because there is a part of knowing the outline of the story and it's elements already. It is such a well known story that you can't really come it it without knowing something of it already. It's not told in real time, that is reserved for Odysseus' son, Telemachus' journey to try and find news of his father and his dealings with his mother's suitors. The tale of Odysseus' journey back form the Trojan wars is told in order, but in retrospect. It's an interesting way of combining the two strands of the tale, the traveller and those left behind. The impact the traveller's absence has on those left behind is well illustrated, and how things are difficult for both sides in that instance - it's not just the traveller that has to endure trials. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this.
  • (5/5)
    Don't read this book - listen to it. Epic poetry is meant to be recited...
  • (4/5)
    How do I meaningfully review a piece of work that has been around so long and is part of the foundation of all western literature? If you've read it, you'll know how great it is, and if you're thinking about reading it, then do so. Don't be afraid. It is great literature, but it's also a great read. It's deep but it's readable, it's tragic and it's comic. What strikes me is that you can imagine meeting the characters today, despite them having been written thousands of years ago, in another language, in another place. Sheer, accessible, genius.
  • (2/5)
    if only circe had turned the men into guinea pigs...i might have liked this more
  • (5/5)
    Emily Wilson's translation of The Odyssey is my third; I read Robert Fagles' and Stanley Lombardo's before this. You can't go wrong with any of them - Fagles' is lyrical but modern, Lombardo's is admirably plain-speaking and fast-paced, and Wilson's is swift, smart and exciting. But Wilson's is my favorite now, and the one I'd recommend to someone dipping in for the first time.Caroline convinced me to read Wilson's introduction, and I'm glad I did. It's a corker. She explains The Odyssey this way:"We encounter a surprising range of different characters and types of incident: giants and beggars, arrogant young men and vulnerable old slaves, a princess who does laundry and a dead warrior who misses the sunshine, gods, goddesses, and ghosts, brave deeds, love affairs, spells, dreams, songs, and stories. Odysseus himself seems to contain multitudes: he is a migrant, a pirate, a carpenter, a king, an athlete, a beggar, a husband, a lover, a father, a son, a fighter, a liar, a leader, and a thief. He is a man who cries, takes naps, and feels homesick, but he is also a man who has a special relationship with the goddess who transforms his appearance at will and ensures that his schemes succeed."As she says, this isn't the usual hero who saves the world or "at least changes it in some momentous way"; instead, "for this hero, mere survival is the most amazing feat of all". The story raises"important questions about the moral qualities of this liar, pirate, colonizer, deceiver, and thief, who is so often in disguise, absent or napping, while other people - those he owns, those he leads- suffer and die, and who directly kills so many people."This complexity is what continues to fascinate me, and has led me through three translations and re-reads.What is so outstanding about this translation?"The Odyssey is a poem, and it needs to have a predictable and distinctive rhythm that can be easily heard when the text is read out loud. The original is in six-footed lines (dactylic hexameters), the conventional meter for archaic Greek narrative verse. I used iambic pentameter, because it is the conventional meter for regular English narrative verse - the rhythm of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron, Keats, and plenty of more recent anglophone poets . . . my translation sings to its own regular and distinctive beat.My version is the same length as the original, with exactly the same number of lines. I chose to write within this difficult constraint because any translation without such limitations will tend to be longer than the original, and I wanted a narrative pace that could match its stride and Homer's nimble gallop."I can't speak to the original, but hers certainly has stride and nimble gallop. She also leans toward simplicity of language, "in a style that echoes the rhythms and phrasing of contemporary anglophone speech." She notes that "stylistic pomposity is entirely un-Homeric". Occasionally (rarely, really) this results in what to me is an odd word choice, e.g. carrying weapons in a "hamper" - really? But overall it succeeds beautifully.Some examples:At a light touch of whip, the horses flew,Swiftly they drew toward their journeys' end,on through fields of wheat, until the sunbegan to set and shadows filled the streets.Helen, on the events in Troy:The Trojan women keened in grief, but Iwas glad - by then I wanted to go home.I wished that Aphrodite had not made mego crazy, when she took me from my country,and made me leave my daughter and the bedI shared with my fine, handsome, clever husband.Circe confronting Odysseus:"Who are you?Where is your city? And who are your parents?I am amazed that you could drink my potionand yet not be bewitched. No other manhas drunk it and withstood the magic charm.But you are different. Your mind is notenchanted. You must be Odysseus,the man who can adapt to anything."Odysseus and Athena are natural partners. As she says,"To outwit youin all your tricks, a person or a godwould need to be an expert at deceit.You clever rascal! So duplicitous,so talented at lying! You love fictionand tricks so deeply, you refuse to stopeven in your own land. Yes, both of usare smart. No man can plan and talk like you,and I am known among the gods for insightand craftiness."He is such a liar! And it's so deeply engrained that he lies even when he doesn't need to. But his lies always carry a greater message: "His lies were like the truth/ and as she listened, she began to weep."If you haven't read The Odyssey before, you probably know the basics of the story by osmosis. But that's nothing like experiencing this ancient yet so modern story. Emily Wilson has brought an intelligence, rhythm and excitement to it that to me is the best yet. Have some fun reading an old classic; it's a treat.
  • (5/5)
    Rereading this I can't believe I once found Homer boring. In my defense, I was a callow teen, and having a book assigned in school often tends to perversely make you hate it. But then I had a "Keats conversion experience." Keats famously wrote a poem in tribute to a translation of Homer by Chapman who, Keats wrote, opened to him "realms of gold." My Chapman was Fitzgerald, although in this reread I tried the Fagles translation and really enjoyed it. Obviously, the translation is key if you're not reading in the original Greek, and I recommend looking at several side by side to see which one best suits. A friend of mine who is a classicist says she prefers the Illiad--that she thinks it the more mature book. I love the Illiad, but I'd give Odyssey a slight edge. Even just reading general Greek mythology, Odysseus was always a favorite, because unlike figures such as Achilles or Heracles he succeeded on his wits, not muscle. It's true, on this reread, especially in contrast to say the Illiad's Hector, I do see Odysseus' dark side. The man is a pirate and at times rash, hot-tempered, even vicious. But I do feel for his pining for home and The Odyssey is filled with such a wealth of incident--the Cyclops, Circe, Scylla and Charybdis, the Sirens--and especially Hades, the forerunner of Dante's Hell. And though my friend is right that the misogynist ancient Greek culture isn't where you go for strong heroines, I love Penelope; described as the "matchless queen of cunning," she's a worthy match for the crafty Odysseus. The series of recognition scenes on Ithaca are especially moving and memorable--I think my favorite and the most poignant being that of Odysseus' dog Argos. An epic poem about 2,700 years old, in the right translation it can nevertheless speak to me more eloquently than many a contemporary novel.
  • (5/5)
    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.
  • (5/5)
    I finally completed it, and what a long strange trip it's been.Before beginning my trek, I was somewhat familar with The Odyssey as a major work in Western Literature, one that has spawned influences in other literary works and drama.It was slow going at first, what with the whole medias res thing and trying to get a bead on the characters and time placement. and Telemachus's search,and of course, Odysseus's trails and tribulations. I was struck by the violence, most especiallythe staggering unmerciless detailed killing of the suitors and servants upon Odysseus'sreturn to Ithaca. I would read it again; a work of this magnitude should be read more than once if only to grasp the continual width and panorama of it. Just the encounters with thecreatures alone make my mind boggle at the imaginative creativity involved to envision such a thing.
  • (4/5)
    Audible didn't mention who the translator was but when I input the first line into Google I found it linked to Augustus Taber Murray on Wikipedia.I have been trying to find for years a version of the Odyssey that I liked as much as I do most translations of the Iliad. In this reading of an obscure translation, which I listened to while I was working, I finally found what I wanted. I love action and fantasy and I had always thought that was the best reason to read this work. This time, I was more impressed by the character of the heroes and their women: their code of honor, their hospitality and generosity, their adaptability to the decrees of fate or the operation of chance, their competitiveness, their cruelty to men, women, and children, their loyalties and betrayals. I've read that the Odyssey was the first great adventure story but I think one could say that it was the first psychological novel. Charlton Griffin was terrific when he read the narration and the men's voices. I always imagined that Homer's warriors spoke like this. He wasn't at all convincing when doing the women's voices. I wish Audio Connoisseur had used a woman narrator.
  • (4/5)
    815 The Odyssey: The Story of Ulysses, by Homer translated by W. H. D. Rouse (read 13 Aug 1965) Frankly, I read this because I figured everybody should have read this. I read it right after reading the Iliad. Over the years I had read parts of this, but I have no specific memory of being overly moved in the reading. Nor can I make any meaningful comment on the merit of the translation. This translation was published first in 1938
  • (4/5)
    The sea repeats. The day repeats. The night repeats. And home, home is the ultimate repetition.