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The Odyssey (Fitzgerald translation)
     

The Odyssey (Fitzgerald translation)

3.9 364
by Homer, Robert Fitzgerald, Jackie Schuman (Illustrator)
 

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Homer's epic chronicle of the Greek hero Odysseus' journey home from the Trojan War has inspired writers from Virgil to James Joyce. Odysseus survives storm and shipwreck, the cave of the Cyclops and the isle of Circe, the lure of the Sirens' song and a trip to the Underworld, only to find his most difficult challenge at home, where treacherous suitors seek to

Overview

Homer's epic chronicle of the Greek hero Odysseus' journey home from the Trojan War has inspired writers from Virgil to James Joyce. Odysseus survives storm and shipwreck, the cave of the Cyclops and the isle of Circe, the lure of the Sirens' song and a trip to the Underworld, only to find his most difficult challenge at home, where treacherous suitors seek to steal his kingdom and his loyal wife, Penelope. Favorite of the gods, Odysseus embodies the energy, intellect, and resourcefulness that were of highest value to the ancients and that remain ideals in out time.

In this new verse translation, Allen Mandelbaum—celebrated poet and translator of Virgil's Aeneid and Dante's Divine Comedy —realizes the power and beauty of the original Greek verse and demonstrates why the epic tale of The Odyssey has captured the human imagination for nearly three thousand years.

"A splendid achievement outstripping all competitors."—Anthony A. Long, author of Hellenistic Philosophy

"With real poetic power...his book is one no lover of living poetry should miss."—The New York Times Book Review

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“A masterpiece . . . An Odyssey worthy of the original.” —William Arrowsmith, The Nation

“Here there is no anxious straining after mighty effects, but rather a constant readiness for what the occasion demands, a kind of Odyssean adequacy to the task in hand.” —Seamus Heaney

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679728139
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
06/16/1990
Series:
Vintage Bks.
Edition description:
1st Vintage Classics Edition
Pages:
528
Product dimensions:
5.19(w) x 7.99(h) x 1.09(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Odyssey


By Homer

Anchor Books

Copyright © 1962 Homer
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0385050402

Chapter One

Book I

To the Muse.

*

The anger of Poseidon.

*

In Poseidon's absence,

a gathering of the gods in Zeus' halls on Olympus.

Athena's plea for help for the stranded Odysseus;

Zeus' consent.

*

Athena in the guise of Mentes visits Ithaca.

Her advice to Telemachus:

he is to confront the Ithacan elders

with the problem of the suitors

and to leave Ithaca to search

for news of his father.

*

Penelope's appearance among the suitors.

Her silencing of Phemius the singer.

Telemachus and the suitors:

their sharp exchange.

*

Nightfall:

Telemachus and his old nurse, Eurycle*¯¯a.

Muse, tell me of the man of many wiles,*

the man who wandered many paths of exile*

after he sacked Troy's sacred citadel.*

He saw the cities-mapped the minds-of many;*

and on the sea, his spirit suffered every*

adversity-to keep his life intact;*

to bring his comrades back. In that last task,*

his will was firm and fast, and yet he failed:*

he could not save his comrades. Fools, they foiled*

themselves: they ate the oxen of the Sun,*

the herd of Helios Hyperion;*

the lord of lightrequited their transgression-*

he took away the day of their return.*

Muse, tell us of these matters. Daughter of Zeus,*

my starting point is any point you choose.*

All other Greeks who had been spared the steep*

descent to death had reached their homes-released*

from war and waves. One man alone was left,*

still longing for his home, his wife, his rest.*

For the commanding nymph, the brightest goddess,*

Calypso, held him in her hollow grottoes:*

she wanted him as husband. Even when*

the wheel of years drew near his destined time-*

the time the gods designed for his return*

to Ithaca-he still could not depend*

upon fair fortune or unfailing friends.*

While other gods took pity on him, one-*

Poseidon-still pursued: he preyed upon*

divine Odysseus until the end,*

until the exile found his own dear land.*

But now Poseidon was away-his hosts,*

the Ethiopians, the most remote*

of men (they live in two divided parts-*

half, where the sun-god sets; half, where he starts).*

Poseidon, visiting the east, received*

the roasted thighs of bulls and sheep. The feast*

delighted him. And there he sat. But all*

his fellow gods were gathered in the halls*

of Zeus upon Olympus; there the father*

of men and gods spoke first. His mind upon*

the versatile Aegisthus-whom the son*

of Agamemnon, famed Orestes, killed-*

he shared this musing with the deathless ones:*

"Men are so quick to blame the gods: they say*

that we devise their misery. But they*

themselves-in their depravity-design*

grief greater than the griefs that fate assigns.*

So did Aegisthus act when he transgressed*

the boundaries that fate and reason set.*

He took the lawful wife of Agamemnon;*

and when the son of Atreus had come back,*

Aegisthus murdered him-although he knew*

how steep was that descent. For we'd sent Hermes,*

our swiftest, our most keen-eyed emissary,*

to warn against that murder and adultery:*

'Orestes will avenge his father when,*

his manhood come, he claims his rightful land.'*

Hermes had warned him as one warns a friend.*

And yet Aegisthus' will could not be swayed.*

Now, in one stroke, all that he owes is paid."*

Athena, gray-eyed goddess, answered Zeus:*

"Our father, Cronos' son, you, lord of lords,*

Aegisthus died the death that he deserved.*

May death like his strike all who ape his sins.*

But brave Odysseus' fate does break my heart:*

long since, in misery he suffers, far*

from friends, upon an island in the deep-*

a site just at the navel of the sea.*

And there, upon that island rich in trees,*

a goddess has her home: the fair-haired daughter*

of Atlas the malevolent (who knows*

the depths of every sea, for he controls*

the giant column holding earth and sky*

apart). Calypso, Atlas' daughter, keeps*

the sad Odysseus there-although he weeps.*

Her words are fond and fragrant, sweet and soft-*

so she would honey him to cast far off*

his Ithaca; but he would rather die*

than live the life of one denied the sight*

of smoke that rises from his homeland's hearths.*

Are you, Olympus' lord, not moved by this?*

Was not Odysseus your favorite*

when, on the spacious plain of Troy, beside*

the Argive ships, he sacrificed to you?*

What turned your fondness into malice, Zeus?"*

Zeus, shepherd of the clouds, replied: "My daughter,*

how can the barrier of your teeth permit*

such speech to cross your lips? Can I forget*

godlike Odysseus, most astute of men,*

whose offerings were so unstinting when*

he sacrificed to the undying gods,*

the masters of vast heaven? Rest assured.*

Only Poseidon, lord whose chariot runs*

beneath the earth, is furious-it was*

Odysseus who deprived the grandest Cyclops,*

the godlike Polyphemus, of his eye.*

(Thoosa-nymph whose father, Phorcys, keeps*

a close watch on the never-resting deep-*

gave birth to that huge Cyclops after she*

had lain in her deep sea-cave with Poseidon.)*

And ever since his son was gouged, the god*

who makes earth tremble, though he does not kill*

Odysseus, will not let him end his exile.*

But now we all must think of his return-*

of how to bring him home again. Poseidon*

will set aside his anger; certainly*

he cannot have his way, for he is only*

one god against us all, and we are many." NNN*

Athena, gray-eyed goddess, answered him:*

"Our father, Cronos' son, you, lord of lords,*

if now the blessed gods indeed would end*

the wanderings of Odysseus, let us send*

the keen-eyed Hermes to Calypso's isle,*

Ogy´gia. Let him there at once declare*

to her, the goddess with the lovely hair,*

our undeniable decree: Steadfast*

Odysseus is to find his homeward path.*

But I shall make my way to Ithaca*

at once, to give his son the strength to summon*

the long-haired Ithacans; when they assemble*

he can denounce-and scatter-all the suitors:*

they are forever slaughtering his sheep,*

his shambling oxen with their curving horns.*

Then off to sandy Pylos and to Sparta*

I'll send him to seek tidings of his father's*

return; he may yet hear some hopeful word-*

and men will then commend him for his search."*

That said, Athena fastened on fine sandals:*

these-golden, everlasting-carried her*

with swift winds over seas and endless lands.*

The goddess took her bronze-tipped battle lance,*

heavy and huge and solid; with this shaft,*

she-daughter of so great a force-can smash*

the ranks of warriors who've earned her wrath.*

One leap-and from Olympus' peaks she reached*

the land of Ithaca. She stood before*

Odysseus' door, the threshold of his court.*

She gripped the bronze-tipped shaft, and taking on*

the likeness of a stranger, she became*

lord Mentes, chieftain of the Taphians.*

She found the braggart suitors at the gate.*

Delighting in their dicing, they reclined*

on hides of oxen they themselves had skinned-*

with pages and attendants serving them,*

some mixing wine and water in wide bowls,*

while others washed the tables down with sponges*

and readied them for food, and others still*

stacked meat in heaps on platters-high and full.*

The very first to notice Mentes' presence*

was young Telemachus. He-sad, morose-*

sat with the suitors. In his reverie,*

he saw his sturdy father-would that he,*

returning suddenly, might banish these*

intruders from his palace and restore*

the rights and rule that had been his before.*

Such was the sadness of Telemachus,*

alone among the suitors, till he saw*

Athena; he rushed toward the outer door,*

ashamed that none had gone to greet the stranger.*

He drew near, clasped her right hand, even as*

his left relieved her of the heavy lance.*

And when he spoke, his words were like winged shafts:*

"My greetings, stranger. Welcome to our feast.*

Eat first-and then do tell us what you seek."*

He led the way; Athena followed him.*

Once they were in the high-roofed hall, he placed*

her lance against a column at whose base*

a polished rack, with slots for spears, was set;*

within that rack there stood still other shafts,*

the many spears that brave Odysseus left.*

He led the stranger to a tall chair, wrought*

with care; across its frame he spread rich cloth.*

There he invited her to sit and rest*

her feet upon a stool; and he himself*

sat nearby, on another well-carved chair,*

set far off from the suitors, lest his guest,*

in all that brouhaha, might look askance*

at feasting with such overbearing men-*

and, too, because he wanted so to gather*

what news he could about his distant father.*

That they might wash their hands, a servant poured*

fresh water from a lovely golden jug*

into a silver basin; at their side*

she placed a polished table. The old housewife*

was generous: she drew on lavish stores;*

to each of them she offered much and more.*

The carver offered meats of every sort,*

and for their wine he set out golden cups;*

and these-again, again-a page filled up.*

But then the suitors swaggered in; they sat,*

in order, on low seats and high-backed chairs.*

The pages poured fresh water for their hands,*

and servants brought them baskets heaped with bread.*

The suitors' hands reached out. The feast was theirs.*

When they had had their fill of food and drink,*

the feasters felt the need for chant and dance-*

at banquets, these are pleasing ornaments.*

A steward now consigned a handsome harp*

into the hands of Phemius, who was forced,*

from time to time, to entertain those lords.*

He struck the strings, and music graced his words.*

Then, as Telemachus turned toward his guest,*

lest he be overheard, he held his head*

close to the gray-eyed goddess-and he said:*

"Dear guest, will you be vexed at what I say?*

This harping and this chant delight these men,*

for all these goods come easily to them:*

they feed-but never need to recompense.*

They feast at the expense of one whose white*

bones, surely, either rot beneath the rain,*

unburied and abandoned on the land,*

or else are preyed upon by churning waves.*

Yet, were Odysseus to return, were they*

to see him here again, they would not pray*

for gold or richer clothes-just faster feet.*

But he has died by now, died wretchedly;*

and nothing can console us now, not even*

if some man on this earth should say my father*

will yet return. The day of his homecoming*

is lost: it is a day we'll never see.*

But tell me one thing-tell me honestly:*

Who are you? Of what father were you born?*

Where is your city, where your family?*

On what ship did you sail? Why did that crew*

bring you to Ithaca? And who were they?*

For surely you did not come here on foot!*

And also tell me truthfully-is this*

the first time you have come to Ithaca,*

or have you been my father's guest before?*

For many other foreigners have come*

to visit us-like you, my father knew*

the ways of many men and many lands."*

Athena, gray-eyed goddess, answered him:*

"My words to you are true: I'm Mentes, son*

of wise Anchialus; the Taphians,*

tenacious oarsmen, are the men I rule.*

Now I have landed here with ship and crew;*

we cross the winedark sea toward Temese-*

all this in search of copper. What we stow*

is gleaming iron, which we're set to barter.*

Outside the city, moored in Rhe*¯¯thron's harbor,*

close to the fields, beneath Mount Neion's forest,*

my ship is waiting. Years ago, your father*

and mine were guests and friends. (Just ask the brave*

Laertes-though they say he shuns the city;*

it seems that now he much prefers to grieve*

far off, alone, except for one old servant.*

She, when his body aches from the hard climb*

he makes, from slope to slope, to tend his vines,*

still carries food and drink right to his side.)*

NNN*

"Now I have come-for I had heard indeed*

that he, your father, had returned. Surely*

it is the gods who now obstruct his journey.*

For bright Odysseus has not died upon*

this earth: he is alive somewhere, delayed*

upon an island set among vast waves,*

held by harsh savages, against his will.*

I am no augur or interpreter*

of flights of birds, but now I shall foretell-*

even as the immortals prompt my soul-*

events my mind can see: Your father will*

not be kept back from his dear land much longer,*

though they may bind him fast in iron chains;*

he is a man of many wiles, who can*

contrive the way to reach his home again.*

But you-do tell me now with honesty:*

Are you, so tall, indeed Odysseus' son?*

Your head and handsome eyes resemble his*

extraordinarily; we two had met*

quite often in the days before he left*

for Troy, where others, too-the Argives' best-*

sailed in their hollow ships. But since then I*

have not seen him, and he has not seen me."*

Telemachus' reply was keen and wise:*

"Dear friend, I cannot be more frank than this.*

My mother says I am his son, but none*

can know for sure the seed from which he's sprung.*

In any case, would I had been the son*

of one so blessed that he grew old among*

his own belongings. I, instead, am born-*

or so they say-of one who surely was*

the most forsaken man, the most forlorn.*

Now you have had and heard my full response.&



Continues...


Excerpted from The Odyssey by Homer Copyright © 1962 by Homer. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Robert Fitzgerald's versions of the Iliad, the Aeneid, and the Oedipus cycle of Sophocles (with Dudley Fitts) are also classics. At his death, in 1988, he was Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard.

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The Odyssey (Marvel Illustrated) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 364 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.
William Rankeillor More than 1 year ago
I love the odyssey and this version was particularly clear, but I would like a version with the original lines of poetry listed out so I can take notes properly.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i read this book as part of a school assignment but i absolutely LOVED IT. it is a great adventure and love story. i really enjoyed the read and i strongly recommend this book to all readers. it was not difficult for me to understand at all either. when i read it, it was not written out in prose so it is pretty easy if you read the sentence full on until the period. overall great read!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book for a high school english assignment and, breaking the stereotype of my generation, found it very enjoyable. Our teacher required us to use Fagles translation and I had no problem understanding it. I would reccomend using online resources only to clarify or answer any questions if you arent familiar with the culture of Homers time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had to read this epic. I was wrapped in the story from the moment I started reading it.Although it is complicated, it is very exciting to know about ancient Greece...and Odysseus' flings.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a required book for school, so I thought it would be extremely boring, and it was. Only until the late middle of the book do you get fully into it. Though it was not one of the best books I have read I do reccomend reading this classic adventure of odysseus's return home from Troy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book should be in the hands of every student reading The Oddyssey. Some translations really stink, but not this one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Awesome
Anonymous 5 months ago
This is my second favoit book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Attention All! There is now a camp, yes, a camp, where you can become a demigod! Go to 'Athenian Constitution' first result and talk, spar, socialize and do so much more the other campers! Don't be afraid to join, just jump right into the fun!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
GREATGREARGREATGREATGREATGREATGREAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!!! IT WAS THE BEST BOOK EVER
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the translation, and I found this story accessible to everyone to read. I am amazed how Homer still inspires people to overcome a trauma. Katrina. I recently read : Penelope's Odyssey, the survivors of Katrina and like this one it was delightful to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
And how does it work
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No cats
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She runs and hisses at any shadows
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She looked at Fawn. "You don't seem well." She meows, flicking an ear back.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We should start our own group!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I cant read it because all the pages are blank.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great version of the classic epic poem, by an excellent translator, and with tremendously helpful additional materials, especially the introduction! I highly recommend all of Fagles translations of classical Greek literature!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am so sorry i have too many rps i have to quit some this is one of them. :'( sorry travel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lie down sleeping.