The Odyssey

The Odyssey

3.9 365
by Homer
     
 

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Sing to me of the resourceful man, O Muse, who wandered
far after he had sacked the sacred city of Troy. He saw the cities of many men and he learned their minds.
He suffered many pains on the sea in his spirit, seeking to save his life and the homecoming of his companions.

Odysseus—soldier, sailor, trickster, and everyman—is one of the most

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Overview

Sing to me of the resourceful man, O Muse, who wandered
far after he had sacked the sacred city of Troy. He saw the cities of many men and he learned their minds.
He suffered many pains on the sea in his spirit, seeking to save his life and the homecoming of his companions.

Odysseus—soldier, sailor, trickster, and everyman—is one of the most recognizable characters in world literature. His arduous, ten-year journey home after the Trojan War, the subject of Homer's Odyssey, is the most accessible tale to survive from ancient Greece, and its impact is still felt today across many different cultures.

This lively free verse translation, from one of today's leading Homeric scholars, preserves the clarity and simplicity of the original while conveying Odysseus' adventures in a modern style. By avoiding the technical formality of earlier translations, and the colloquial and sometimes exaggerated effects of recent attempts, Barry B. Powell's translation deftly captures the most essential truths of this vital text. Due to his thorough familiarity with the world of Homer and Homeric language, Powell's introduction provides rich historical and literary perspectives on the poem. This volume also includes illustrations from classical artwork, detailed maps, explanatory notes, a timeline, and a glossary. Modern and pleasing to the ear while accurately reflecting the meaning of the original, this Odyssey is a superlative translation for twenty-first-century readers.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Barry Powell's translation of The Iliad:

"Magnetically readable." —Booklist, starred review

"[A] clear and energetic translation.... Staying true to Homer's poetic rhythms, Powell avoids the modified iambic lines found in Lattimore's, Fagles's, and Mitchell's works. He also avoids Lombardo's tendency to cast Homer in contemporary language and Fitzgerald's anachronisms. This fine version of The Iliad has a feel for the Greek." —Library Journal

"With swift, transparent language that rings both ancient and modern, Barry Powell gives readers anew all of the rage, pleasure, pathos, and humor that are Homer's Iliad—a reading experience richly illumined by the insightful commentary and plentiful images accompanying the text." —Jane Alison, author of The Love-Artist

"This translation is the complete package. A lucid and accessible introduction gives a general audience what they need to appreciate the nature of this extraordinary poem, and the translation itself is admirably energetic, readable, and direct. Powell's style is individual and self-assured, and his lines cry out to be read aloud. Just as in the original, the pace never lets up and the events of that long-lost past flash by. It is a remarkable achievement, one that fully deserves to rank with any of the current contenders." —Denis Feeney, Princeton University

"Barry Powell's clever translation is simple and energetic: sometimes coarse, sometimes flowing, it is always poetically engaged. He lays bare the semantic background of Homer through felicitous phrasing and delivers us a Dark-Age epic, one more suggestive of Norse sagas than the cultural milieu of archaic Ionia. Fresh and eminently readable, Powell's Iliad is likely to stay." —Margalit Finkelberg, editor of The Homer Encyclopedia

"Barry Powell, the master of classical mythology, has done it again—a powerful translation of the poem that started European literature. His muscular verses are faithful to the original Greek but bring the characters to life. This is a page-turner, bound to become the new standard." —Ian Morris, author of Why the West Rules—For Now

Library Journal
05/01/2014
Homer's epic is one of the great works in world literature and among the most influential in the Western tradition. Translator Powell (emeritus, classics, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison) is a poet, distinguished Homer scholar, and an authority on ancient writing systems; this verse translation joins his excellent version of the Iliad. Powell's background informs the attempt to capture the vigor and directness of Homer's language while retaining the stylistic features of repetition and epithets that are part of the oral character of the original. Using a five-beat line, the translator seeks a position between the anachronizing of Robert Fitzgerald and the modernizing of Richmond Lattimore, using the Latin version of certain familiar names such as Achilles and Priam but transliterating those of secondary characters, such as Kalypso and Nausithoõs. This edition is supplemented by a number of maps and illustrations drawn from ancient art and includes useful but not overwhelming scholarly apparatus. VERDICT Powell's fine reading translation is accessible yet true to the feel and sense of the Greek; it is more accurate than Stanley Lombardo's version and more poetic than that by Robert Fagles.—Thomas L. Cooksey, Armstrong Atlantic State Univ., Savannah
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Zwerger's (The Wizard of Oz) captivating cover image of the Mad Tea-Party for this edition of Carroll's 1865 tale conveys the psychological tension of the interior artwork: Alice, at the head of an elongated table with a pristine white linen cloth, stares at the pocket watch that the March Hare is about to lower into his cup of tea. The Hare, bug-eyed, gazes out at readers while the Mad Hatter to his right, wearing a hat box, fixates on a black upturned chapeau (in lieu of a place setting), and the Dormouse between them sleeps. Across the table, an empty red mug is placed in front of a vacant green chair, and a teacup and saucer trimmed in red seems to be set for the reader. The painting conveys the way in which Zwerger brilliantly manages both to invite readers into the story and to keep them at a distance. From the heroine's first appearance, as she falls down a well while chasing the White Rabbit, with a glimpse of orderly bookshelves at the upper left corner, Zwerger demonstrates the many layers to Alice's journey: a cutaway view reveals that the bulk of the other "shelves" are the result of rats and insects tunneling underground. The supporting cast conveys the artist's nearly sardonic perspective. The contrary caterpillar, with six of its eight arms crossed, would be at home in New York's East Village: instead of a hookah it smokes a cigarette and sips red wine, yet--unlike Sir John Tenniel's sedated counterpart--this caterpillar is lucid, defiantly staring out at an Alice (and readers) absent from the scene. Zwerger's penetrating interpretation reinvents Carroll's situations and characters and demands a rereading of the text. All ages. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Charles Dodgson wrote this story at the request of Alice Liddell, and for close to 150 years, it has been a favorite of young readers. Lisbeth Zwerger brings her award-winning artistic skill to the story and offers a very different look for a new generation. Her palette is brighter, the art has more of a layered look than in her previous works, and she offers more frontal views. The whimsy is there and the White Rabbit, Queen, Cheshire Cat and others will be quickly recognized. The illustrations range from full pages to spot art liberally sprinkled throughout the twelve chapters. The story can be read on one level as a magical adventure in which Alice faces a host of very strange things and variety of bizarre characters. It fills a child's need for fantasy and escape. The actual social commentary and satire will elude most contemporary readers, but it in no way diminishes the joy of reading this classic story.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199360314
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
06/02/2014
Pages:
488
Sales rank:
1,362,536
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

IAthene Visits Telemachus

Tell me, Muse, the story of that resourceful man who was driven to wander far and wide after he had sacked the holy citadel of Troy. He saw the cities of many people and he learnt their ways. He suffered great anguish on the high seas in his struggles to preserve his life and bring his comrades home. But he failed to save those comrades, in spite of all his efforts. It was their own transgression that brought them to their doom, for in their folly they devoured the oxen of Hyperion the Sun-god and he saw to it that they would never return. Tell us this story, goddess daughter of Zeus, beginning at whatever point you will.

All the survivors of the war had reached their homes by now and so put the perils of battle and the sea behind them. Odysseus alone was prevented from returning to the home and wife he yearned for by that powerful goddess, the Nymph Calypso, who longed for him to marry her, and kept him in her vaulted cave. Not even when the rolling seasons brought in the year which the gods had chosen for his homecoming to Ithaca was he clear of his troubles and safe among his friends. Yet all the gods pitied him, except Poseidon, who pursued the heroic Odysseus with relentless malice till the day when he reached his own country.

Poseidon, however, was now gone on a visit to the distant Ethiopians, in the most remote part of the world, half of whom live where the Sun goes down, and half where he rises. He had gone to accept a sacrifice of bulls and rams, and there he sat and enjoyed the pleasures of the feast. Meanwhile the rest of the gods had assembled in the palace of Olympian Zeus, and the Father of men and gods opened a discussion among them. He had been thinking of the handsome Aegisthus, whom Agamemnon’s far-famed son Orestes killed; and it was with Aegisthus in his mind that Zeus now addressed the immortals:

‘What a lamentable thing it is that men should blame the gods and regard us as the source of their troubles, when it is their own transgressions which bring them suffering that was not their destiny. Consider Aegisthus: it was not his destiny to steal Agamemnon’s wife and murder her husband when he came home. He knew the result would be utter disaster, since we ourselves had sent Hermes, the keen-eyed Giant-slayer, to warn him neither to kill the man nor to court his wife. For Orestes, as Hermes told him, was bound to avenge Agamemnon as soon as he grew up and thought with longing of his home. Yet with all his friendly counsel Hermes failed to dissuade him. And now Aegisthus has paid the final price for all his sins.’

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Meet the Author

Barry B. Powell is Halls-Bascomb Professor of Classics Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His translation of The Iliad (2013) was also published by Oxford University Press.

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