The Odyssey (Fitzgerald translation)

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Overview

The classic translation of The Odyssey, now in a Noonday paperback.

Robert Fitzgerald's translation of Homer's Odyssey is the best and best-loved modern translation of the greatest of all epic poems. Since 1961, this Odyssey has sold more than two million copies, and it is the standard translation for three generations of students and poets. The Noonday Press is delighted to publish a new edition of this classic work.Fitzgerald's supple verse is ideally suited to the story of ...

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The Odyssey: The Fitzgerald Translation

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Overview

The classic translation of The Odyssey, now in a Noonday paperback.

Robert Fitzgerald's translation of Homer's Odyssey is the best and best-loved modern translation of the greatest of all epic poems. Since 1961, this Odyssey has sold more than two million copies, and it is the standard translation for three generations of students and poets. The Noonday Press is delighted to publish a new edition of this classic work.Fitzgerald's supple verse is ideally suited to the story of Odysseus' long journey back to his wife and home after the Trojan War. Homer's tale of love, adventure, food and drink, sensual pleasure, and mortal danger reaches the English-language reader in all its glory.

Of the many translations published since World War II, only Fitzgerald's has won admiration as a great poem in English. The noted classicist D. S. Carne-Ross explains the many aspects of its artistry in his Introduction, written especially for this new edition.

The Noonday Press edition also features a map, a Glossary of Names and Places, and Fitzgerald's Postscript. Line drawings precede each book of the poem.

Winner of the Bollingen Prize

Retells in simple language five episodes in the voyage of the Greek hero Odysseus from Troy to his home in Ithaca.

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Editorial Reviews

Seamus Heaney
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, and this line-by-line vigilance builds up into a completely credible imagined world.
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

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: 9780374525743
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 11/28/1998
  • Edition description: Translated by Robert Fitzgerald
  • Pages: 528
  • Sales rank: 84,172
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 8.18 (h) x 1.11 (d)

Meet the Author

Homer

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.

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

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.

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Reading Group Guide

This teacher’s guide is keyed to the Robert Fitzgerald translation of The Odyssey. By universal consensus, Fitzgerald’s Odyssey is acknowledged to have an openness and immediacy unsurpassed by any other English translation.

Little is certain when it comes to the origins of The Odyssey or its partner epic, The Iliad. The Iliad is the prequel, as we would now call it, to The Odyssey in the legendary story of the Greek expedition to reclaim Helen from the city of Troy. Both epics circulated from the dawn of literacy under the name of Homer, but who this fabled poet was, and when and where he lived, remain riddles. Already some ancient critics doubted a single poet wrote both epics, and most modern scholars prefer to ascribe the creation and shaping of both stories to a tradition rather than to one or even two authors. Legends about the gods, and about a variety of heroes and their exploits, were in constant circulation and development, handed down from generation to generation. Over many centuries, bards developed highly formalized language to chant the stories in public performances. As the scenes of performances in The Odyssey suggest, these singers had a large repertoire of tales from which they chose when aiming to satisfy a particular audience’s demand, or more likely the request of the local lord. The material was familiar, and the language traditional, indeed formulaic, so that a good singer could always improvise, in proper style and meter, a song that suited the performance situation in theme, episodes, details, scope, and tone. All the songs, as far as we can tell, gave audiences a vision of their ancestors, people more glorious and admirable than the singer’s contemporaries, whether in victory or in defeat. In their greatness, in their heroic pursuit of glory and undying fame, the epic characters defined the heroic code the listeners, at least initially members of a warrior class, were to follow. What conferred undying fame was epic song itself: listeners of epic would have aspired to become the subject of song for subsequent generations.

There must have been many signal events, many great moments in the history of epic before The Iliad and The Odyssey achieved the forms in which we know them, but two appear, in retrospect, to have been supremely significant. Many towns and settlements were sacked as peoples jockeyed for land and power in what is now Greece and Turkey, but it seems that a city known as Troy, or Ilium, on the northwest coast of Asia Minor, near the strait known as the Dardanelles, and for that strategic reason a significant power, was the frequent target of marauding attacks and sieges. One of the most devastating destructions it suffered fell shortly before or after 1200 B.C.E., some 3,200 years before our time. Around this destruction there seem to have coalesced stories of a Greek army on a mammoth campaign to sack the fortified city which sat astride sea and land lanes to the richer east. What was the reason for the expedition? Not greed and power politics—so legend has it— but the drive to recover something yet more precious: Greek honor in the shape of Helen, the beautiful wife of Meneláos, King of Sparta. Helen, the story goes, had been abducted by Paris, the handsome Trojan prince. And so the tale was spun backward.

The legendary campaign against Troy took ten years. The Iliad, long though it is, narrates a crucial patch of the tenth year only, when Akhilleus, the greatest hero of the Greeks, fell out with the Greek commander in chief, Agamémnon, Meneláos’ brother. By the end of The Iliad, Akhilleus has lost his companion, Patróklos, but has killed the great Trojan hero, Hektor. Troy was doomed, though its fall occurred in the cycle of stories, now mere fragments, that follow The Iliad, but not before Akhilleus himself met his death. The storytelling cycle continued with stories of the homecomings of the various Greek heroes, and it is the homecoming of the craftiest of those heroes, Odysseus, deviser of the Trojan horse itself, that is told in The Odyssey. Odysseus’ journey is the longest of all the heroes’—up to another ten years, given the wanderings and delays—and he faces almost fatal odds when he returns home, but his is the only truly successful homecoming. But no more of that now, since it is The Odyssey you are about to read.

The other signal moment in the development of the two Homeric poems seems to have fallen in the eighth century B.C.E., for reasons that are hard to pin down. Whether by destiny or by luck, there was a happy conjunction of, on the one hand, one or two singers who had so mastered the traditional material and style that they could spin out monumental versions of these two episodes of the Trojan cycle, extraordinary in size, subtlety, and complexity of design, and, on the other hand, the introduction of writing from the Near East. Whether our great singer or singers— we might as well let him (or them) bear the name “Homer”—were literate or not, within one or two generations these two poems were beginning their own odyssey as texts, written in an alphabet adapted from Phoenician letters first on scraps of hide, then on papyrus rolls, centuries later in vellum codices or books, and finally printed on paper, whether in scholarly editions of the Greek original or in translations in many languages like the one you have before you.

To say that this journey of Homer’s poem rivals Odysseus’ own journey is to say a great deal, for not unjustly have Odysseus’ long and perilous travels given the name to all wanderings of epic proportions. It takes him ten years to travel from Troy, on the northwest coast of Asia Minor, to his island kingdom of Ithaka, off the west coast of mainland Greece. The distance in miles is not the point. He travels far beyond the “real” world, visiting the fierce Laistrygonês and monstrous Kyklopês, Aiolos, King of the Winds, the dreamy land of Lotos Eaters, and passing Skylla and Kharybdis, rarely without losing some of his companions. He spends longer periods of time with the enchantress Kirkê and, after all his crew have perished, with the nymph Kalypso. But always he presses homeward. When, with the aid of Athena and the Phaiákians, he reaches Ithaka, the homecoming, and the poem, are but half accomplished. He must disguise himself and marshal a few allies before he can win back his very hearth and hall from the small army of suitors who have lain siege to his wife, Penélopê. She is a crafty and cunning force to be reckoned with, more than a match in wits for her suitors, and even at times for Odysseus himself. The second half of the poem is a story of disguise, misleading tales, and recognitions, of reunion not only of a husband and a wife, but of two father-son pairs. At the end, generations are reconciled, and civic strife averted.

For how long, no one can say. Cycles continue, legends go on and on, because Homeric poems end “in the middle of things,” as they begin. What has continued without end is the reading of The Odyssey. At the beginning of the poem, Homer asks the Muse, guarantor of epic memory, to sing through him. The Muse still sings in the pages of your book, and she is eager to begin. Attend her, and wonder.

The questions, exercises, and assignments that follow are designed not only to guide your students through The Odyssey and to help them approach it primarily as a compelling narrative that speaks to us directly today, but also to unlock an artifact from another time and place and culture that challenges us to consider what is human and universal, what is culture-bound and relative. The Odyssey is at once an archaeological treasure and a great read, an adventure story and a time machine. As a compelling narrative, questions will spring to mind, for The Odyssey is the story of a family reunited against all odds. The saga of Odysseus, Penélopê, and Telémakhos is a recognizable family drama, and many other figures are recognizable today. Can’t you imagine Telémakhos and Nausikaa among your students? Or Odysseus and Penélopê, or Helen and Meneláos, among others, as their parents?

To prepare your students to appreciate the second aspect, you may want to show them images from Greece and other Eastern Mediterranean cultures from ca. 2000 B.C.E. to 500 B.C.E. to help them visualize the world in which the Homeric heroes and Homeric audiences lived. If you can arrange a field trip to a local museum which has a collection of Greek antiquities, so much the better. You may also want to have them develop a time line from the Bronze and Iron Ages to the present on which you can help them plot the fall of Troy and the final phase of the development of the Homeric poems (as above) against the events of other cultures. Independent of such specifics, one should ask what it means for readers today to overhear the voices of so fundamentally “other a culture.” To what extent should we be prepared to suspend our own deeply ingrained moral expectations and accept the fact that Odysseus and his family, for example, own slaves? Is studying a culture from the past essentially different from studying a foreign culture contemporary to ours? How does The Odyssey itself present the reader with questions about cultural difference?

As an epic which is meant to memorialize a culture’s heroes, The Odyssey is dense with names and details. Encourage your students to keep a journal of their reading and to bring to class any and all questions that occur to them as they read. Finally, don’t forget that The Odyssey was, and in your translation is, poetry. Have each student select and prepare one or more passages he or she finds particularly significant or intriguing and then read it aloud to the class with feeling and dramatic gesture. You could also have pairs or small groups of students do a concerted reading or even perform certain key scenes from the text: for example, the recognitions of Odysseus by Telémakhos, Eur´ykleia, Penélopê, and Laërtês.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 461 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2008

    WONDERFUL!!!

    Well im going to be completely honest about this book. When I first opened the book The Odyssey, I was a little hessitant to reading it. I was a fhreshman in high school and I HAD to read it, it was an obligation because it was a class project that we had to do. But in the end it was all a good read. The book is filled with a wonderfull adventure and action and also love. I recomend this book to anyone who is seeking a thrilling adventure. By the end of this book i was glad that I didn't slack off and actually did the read for this fantastic book. You willnot be dissappointed afterwards.

    39 out of 42 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    War and Penelope.

    I hope that those who read my review will forgive me because I would like to talk mainly about Penelope, the wife of Odysseus. When I read the Odyssey for the first time, I thought it was a wonderful adventure book with beautiful and dangerous women and I laughed with that half-wit of a Polyphemus, one of the cyclops. But near the end something was missing, it was not what it should be. Odysseus came home. His son Telemachus and his swineherd were glad and his dog could finally die with the comforting knowledge that it's master was among the living. Why didn't Penelope make a joyful sound ? Why was she so silent ? I shrugged my shoulders and said:'women!'. It's only years later I began to understand a little. So many people died in the Trojan war. The many adorers of Penelope were slaughtered by Odysseus with no compassion at all. The silence of Penelope was a reproachful silence. She was wondering how many more dead people it would take before men could live in peace. We still ask that question.

    11 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2007

    This is a CLASSIC.

    Although the details of Homer have not survived the ages, this book is an account to the cultural value system, the interests, and the lives of the Greeks. This is one of the most highly influencial fictional works of all time, and was often quoted in court cases, political speeches, and other literature for hundreds of years due to the books powerful imagery and depiction of the human condition (resembling how the Bible was quoted by other societies in other times). Since the book is set thousands of years ago, of course it doesn't conform to the values of contemporary society. To say the book is mistakenly a classic is to infinitely undermine the effect this book has had on the development of literature and story-telling in general. The book traces the journey of Odysseus, 'the storm-tossed man.' He encounters gods, demigods, monsters, and mythical creatures that push creative limits. If you've heard of sirens, cyclops, and et cetera, this book is most likely responsible for that (with the help of The Iliad, Homer's other major work). The Odyssey demonstrates the role of the gods in Greek thinking, which is not only entertaining but informative. The introduction has plenty of background info, as well. A book that has inspired everyone from Aristotle to James Joyce is most definitely a CLASSIC---End of story.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2003

    timeless

    If you ever had a pet that lingered into old age, then the Odyssey echos across 2,700 years of time to speak to you. That small scene of a few dozen words does what all forms of great art should do,convey a shared experience that is untouched by time and distance. Great Art was onced defined by the artist being able to convey shared experiences far better than anyone else.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 19, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Still relevent today.

    While a harder read for kids, The Odyssey is still a much-needed read in schools today. Not only can students focus on the surface area motifs of home and heroes, but they can also be pushed deeper into analyizing what real life issues the "monsters" in the story represent. This story has been around for thousands of years, and rightfully so!

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2012

    GREAT BOOK

    One of the best greek mythology books i have read!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2012

    Not what I wanted

    This is the Roman version, I wanted the Greek version. Just warning those who are about to buy this.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 5, 2012

    Not Recommended

    The use of the abbreviations BCE and CE instead of BC and AD in the introduction is, to me, both intellectually and personally insulting and very unnecessary since the birth of Jesus Christ is still the demarcation event. Had I know about this before my purchase of this edition, I would not have bought this translation. Unfortunately, I only reviewed the translation before purchase and not the introduction.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2012

    A classic

    I was forced to read this book as a freshman in highschool, and wasn't sure whether I would enjoy it or not. Now, it's one of my favorite books. I'm usually in to more science fiction novels, but I really enjoyed reading about of the Greek mythology in this novel. It is one that will stick with me forever, and that I find myself picking up again and again.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2011

    A classic!

    I had to read this book for school, but I really enjoyed it. It was difficult reading at times, but I enjoyed the story and characters. I'm a big fan of Greek mythology, and this book as very interesting, and a great read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    A classic at a reasonable price.

    I picked up this book because I was looking to enhance my knowledge of the Greek classics. It's small size is very convenient for taking it along on my morning commute. All and all it is exactly what I was looking for.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 7, 2011

    Great poem

    Im amazingly satisfed with this very interesting even for a 13 year old

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 25, 2011

    A classic

    This particular translation of the Odyssey was enjoyable. The plot is classic and numerous other authors have ripped off the plot/format and appropriated it, like Virgil's Aeneid. The parts with Telemachus are kind of boring, but the last half or so of the poem was great. The B&N version really doesn't add anything very special.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2011

    ENJOYABLE for the eager learner

    I enjoyed this book and I think you will too if you persist in reading it, and pay attention to the storyline, not the actual words. Very good book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The Accessible Odyssey

    Homer's epic poem THE ODYSSEY is a twenty-four book work that has been considered won of the great written works since its birth in the 8th century. As the dictionary describes it 'The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work traditionally ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon. Indeed it is the second--the Iliad being the first--extant work of Western literature. It was probably composed near the end of the 8th century BC, somewhere in Ionia, the Greek-speaking coastal region of what is now Turkey.' This fascinating tale, so important to our understanding of the great works of literature, can be a challenge to read - not so much for the story line (confusing though that may be due to the several names attributed to each character in the work) as to the style of writing: ennui can set in heavily after a few pages of wading through the first book. Fro example, a usual translation of from the Greek may read: 'Tell me, O muse, of that ingenious hero who travelled far and wide after he had sacked the famous town of Troy. Many cities did he visit, and many were the nations with whose manners and customs he was acquainted; moreover he suffered much by sea while trying to save his own life and bring his men safely home; but do what he might he could not save his men, for they perished through their own sheer folly in eating the cattle of the Sun-god Hyperion; so the god prevented them from ever reaching home. Tell me, too, about all these things, O daughter of Jove, from whatsoever source you may know them.' What Wayne Josephson has done in continuing his Readable Classics is extract the story, brushed off the filigree and keeps the momentum flowing as in the variation of the same opening: "Tell me, muse, about that resourceful hero Odysseus, who was forced to wander far and wide after he destroyed the famous city of Troy. He saw many cities and became acquainted with their ways. He suffered greatly at sea while trying to save his own life and bring his men safely home. But hard as he tried, he could not save them. They foolishly ate the cattle of the Sun god Hyperion, who then made certain they would never reach home, and so they died. Tell us this story, goddess, daughter of Zeus, one more time.' Does the flavor of the tale change or does it seem like Josephson has buffed off important facts? No, but instead what we have is the story in contemporary English that flows so smoothly that it invites us to complete the novel. That is the pleasure of reading the many books Wayne Josephson has 'cleaned' for us: Emma, Jane Eyre, The Scarlet Letter, Moby Dick, Pride and Prejudice, Emma and the Vampires (Josephson's own hilarious takeoff on Austen's inimitable Emma character!), and now The Odyssey. This is a major contribution to the art of reading that hopefully will restore these great books to the shelves of young people eager for great stories. Another Bravo! Grady Harp

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Palmer's Translation Packs a Punch

    George Herbert Palmer's prose translation of the Odyssey conveys the beauty and grace of the original's poetry with an accessible style. I couldn't put this down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2009

    I didn't think I'd like it but...

    Ok so my 9th grade english class is reading it and I really didn't think I'd like it but once we got into the story I found that I really liked it! :)
    I Love the story line, how Odyssues is trying to get home to his wife, Peneople, and his son Telemachus......And how Odyssues has to go throught so many things to reach his goal.....

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    a great book for history lovers

    this book is great for a teen reader, and anybody who loves history.<BR/>many younger people may not undetrstand it because of the usage of wourds, but overall a good book<BR/><BR/><BR/><BR/>if you liked this then try the iliad

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2008

    I LOVE THIS BOOK EVEN THOUGH I THOUGHT I WOULD HATE IT!!!

    I had to read this book for 9th grade English and I didn't think I would like it at first, but then I really started enjoying it, and now I really like it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2014

    Annabelle

    Im here

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