The Odyssey: A New Verse Translation

Overview

This timeless retellings of one of the world's greatest stories is accompanied by magnificient artwork.

A retelling of Homer's epic that describes the wanderings of Odysseus after the fall of Troy.

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Overview

This timeless retellings of one of the world's greatest stories is accompanied by magnificient artwork.

A retelling of Homer's epic that describes the wanderings of Odysseus after the fall of Troy.

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Editorial Reviews

Chris Sherman
McCaughrean's fine retelling of Odysseus' wanderings is a heroic tale in the truest sense of the word. It captures all the drama and bloodcurdling action of the original work while making the story accessible to young people in language that is still vigorous and expressive. Odysseus is a commanding figure, a bold leader, able to outwit the strongest monsters, yet so weak he cowers in Calypso's chamber. Readers can follow Odysseus' encounters with Circe, the Lotus-eaters, Poseidon, and Calypso, among others, as well as Penelope's difficulties with her suitors back home. Illustrations by Victor Ambrus complement McCaughrean's style perfectly, their bold colors and lively portrayals displaying all the energy of the text. Ambrus' renderings of the monsters are particularly gruesome. A worthy addition to most library collections.
Horn Book
McCaughrean's adaptation of Homer's epic is both faithful to the original and accessible. Odysseus' perilous adventures on his voyage home from the Trojan War -- including encounters with the Cyclops, Circe, and the Sirens -- will captivate the imagination of a new generation of readers. Pen-and-ink drawings filled with motion alternate with vibrantly colored illustrations.
Library Journal
While Mandelbaum and the University of California Press are to be commended for attempting this new translation of The Odyssey , those of Robert Fitzgerald (Doubleday, 1963) and Richard Lattimore (Harper & Row, 1968) still remain the versions of choice for serious students who don't know Greek. Mandelbaum's poetry is fluent but lacks the feeling for the original that he brought to his fine translations of Virgil ( The Aeneid of Virgil , Bantam, 1976) and Dante ( The Divine Comedy: The Inferno , Bantam, 1982). There is a looseness in the translation that often misses the intricacy and interconnection of The Odyssey as a whole. Illustrated with engravings, this is essentially a coffee-table book.-- T.L. Cooksey, Arm strong State Coll., Savannah, Ga.
From Barnes & Noble
The greatest adventure story of all time, this epic work chronicles Odysseus's return from the Trojan War and the trials he endures on his journey home. Filled with magic, mystery, and an assortment of gods & goddesses who meddle freely in the affairs of men.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393007442
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/28/1968
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 354
  • Sales rank: 1,462,058
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author

Homer
Homer
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.

Biography

We know very little about the author of The Odyssey and its companion tale, The Iliad. Most scholars agree that Homer was Greek; those who try to identify his origin on the basis of dialect forms in the poems tend to choose as his homeland either Smyrna, now the Turkish city known as Izmir, or Chios, an island in the eastern Aegean Sea.

According to legend, Homer was blind, though scholarly evidence can neither confirm nor contradict the point.

The ongoing debate about who Homer was, when he lived, and even if he wrote The Odyssey and The Iliad is known as the "Homeric question." Classicists do agree that these tales of the fall of the city of Troy (Ilium) in the Trojan War (The Iliad) and the aftermath of that ten-year battle (The Odyssey) coincide with the ending of the Mycenaean period around 1200 BCE (a date that corresponds with the end of the Bronze Age throughout the Eastern Mediterranean). The Mycenaeans were a society of warriors and traders; beginning around 1600 BCE, they became a major power in the Mediterranean. Brilliant potters and architects, they also developed a system of writing known as Linear B, based on a syllabary, writing in which each symbol stands for a syllable.

Scholars disagree on when Homer lived or when he might have written The Odyssey. Some have placed Homer in the late-Mycenaean period, which means he would have written about the Trojan War as recent history. Close study of the texts, however, reveals aspects of political, material, religious, and military life of the Bronze Age and of the so-called Dark Age, as the period of domination by the less-advanced Dorian invaders who usurped the Mycenaeans is known. But how, other scholars argue, could Homer have created works of such magnitude in the Dark Age, when there was no system of writing? Herodotus, the ancient Greek historian, placed Homer sometime around the ninth century BCE, at the beginning of the Archaic period, in which the Greeks adopted a system of writing from the Phoenicians and widely colonized the Mediterranean. And modern scholarship shows that the most recent details in the poems are datable to the period between 750 and 700 BCE.

No one, however, disputes the fact that The Odyssey (and The Iliad as well) arose from oral tradition. Stock phrases, types of episodes, and repeated phrases -- such as "early, rose-fingered dawn" -- bear the mark of epic storytelling. Scholars agree, too, that this tale of the Greek hero Odysseus's journey and adventures as he returned home from Troy to Ithaca is a work of the greatest historical significance and, indeed, one of the foundations of Western literature.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of The Odyssey.

Good To Know

The meter (rhythmic pattern of syllables) of Homer's epic poems is dactylic hexameter.

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Read an Excerpt

The Odyssey


By Homer

W. W. Norton & Company

Copyright ©1968 Homer
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0393007448

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 Méntës visits Ithaca.

Her advice to Telémachus:

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 Phémius the singer.

Telémachus and the suitors:

their sharp exchange.

*

Nightfall:

Telémachus 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 ofHélios Hypérion;*

the lord of light requited 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 Aegísthus-whom the son*

of Agamemnon, famed Oréstes, 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 Aegísthus act when he transgressed*

the boundaries that fate and reason set.*

He took the lawful wife of Agamemnon;*

and when the son of Átreus had come back,*

Aegísthus 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:*

'Oréstes will avenge his father when,*

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

Hermes had warned him as one warns a friend.*

And yet Aegísthus' 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,*

Aegísthus 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 Polyphémus, of his eye.*

(Thöósa-nymph whose father, Phórcys, 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 Méntës, chieftain of the Táphians.*

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 Méntës' presence*

was young Telémachus. 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 Telémachus,*

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 Phémius, who was forced,*

from time to time, to entertain those lords.*

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

Then, as Telémachus 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 Méntës, son*

of wise Anchíalus; the Táphians,*

tenacious oarsmen, are the men I rule.*

Now I have landed here with ship and crew;*

we cross the winedark sea toward Témesë-*

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 Néion's forest,*

my ship is waiting. Years ago, your father*

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

Laértës-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."*

Telémachus' 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 ©1968 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.

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