The Odyssey (Ian Johnston Translation)

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STANLEY LOMBARDO is professor of classics at the University of Kansas. His translations of the Iliad and the Odyssey were originally published by Hackett Publishing Company in 1997 and 2000, respectively.

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

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Overview

STANLEY LOMBARDO is professor of classics at the University of Kansas. His translations of the Iliad and the Odyssey were originally published by Hackett Publishing Company in 1997 and 2000, respectively.

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

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Editorial Reviews

Washington Post
Susan Sarandon reads an introduction by Tom Palaima as well as synopses of each book, all of which are included in a useful little booklet. Lombardo, a veteran of many performances of his translation, delivers the poem himself in a well-modulated, walnutty voice that occasionally roars out dramatically to handle the more exuberant, even bumptious, passages.
—Katherine A. Powers
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.
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: 9789626344736
  • Publisher: Naxos Audiobooks
  • Publication date: 11/28/2007
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Abridged, 4 CDs, 5 hours
  • Product dimensions: 4.90 (w) x 5.70 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Homer

The identity of the writer of the Odyssey is a matter of some speculation. The ancients were convinced it was Homer, although they tended to disagree as to biographical details. The best supported evidence suggests he lived in Chios, an island off the west coast of Turkey, some time between 1100 and 700 BC, probably closer to the latter. Traditionally portrayed as revered, old, and blind, he composed the Iliad and Odyssey and possibly the Homeric Hymns, a series of choral addresses to the gods.

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 FIRST BOOK

The Council of the Gods

The Invocation to the Muse, greeting Her and the gods’ meeting.
Athene ordered to start Odysseus Homeward and the visit Of the goddess to Telemachus.


Sing, Muse,1 of that wanderer who sundered
The sacred walls of Troy and traveled
Many sea-lanes while struggling for his
Life and his men’s return. His men, who
In their folly slew and consumed the holy
Cattle of the Sun, Hyperion,2 who
Therefore spurned their journey home.
Now, Muse, begin the tale of that man
Of many masquerades. Sing to us how he,
Bereft of hearth and home, pined for his wife
In hallowed Calypso’s cave, the divine Nymph,
Eager him to wed and bed, but when
The circling seasons ran their wheel, they spun
The thread for his return to Ithaca.
Yet the gods determined that he would not
Find his peace at home until all the gods
Took pity upon him. At last all did,
Save Poseidon, who grimly blocked the noble
Wanderer until the man of masquerades
Finally reached his native land, there to
Find grim designs waiting for his return.
Sing, Muse, of that man of men and tell me
The story of the man whose own wisdom
And trickery wounded him and caused him
To languish far from the loving arms of
His wife. Sing to me the story of that
Wanderer who sacked Troy and sundered her
Heaven-built walls, only to be forced to roam
Uncharted seas and visitstrange lands
Where he faced many grueling trials.
Sing to me of his great adventures among nations
Of all manners, minds, fashions, and traditions.
Sing to me of a man, abandoned by the gods
After his men slew the sun god’s sacred cattle,
Who still proves himself worthy of song and story.
Sing, O Muse, of him in his glory. How after ten
Long years at Troy trying to storm the many-
Towered city of Ilium, the gods
Denied Odysseus3 return passage
Home to his loving wife while other
Comrades were led to safe haven where
They sleep free from the horror of war and
The sea. Tell me how the Nymph Calypso,
Yearning for his love, trapped him by magic
In her caves, making him her lord and spouse.
Sing, Muse, why Poseidon, the god of the sea—
Despite destiny—blocks his passage home.
Explain why Poseidon spurned Zeus’s council
Determining Odysseus’s fate and
Sped to Ethiopia at the end
Of the earth, feasting at his festival
While the other gods obeyed the summons
Of mighty Zeus. Let us listen to Zeus’s words:

“Vain, petulant men! Yes, that’s what they are! All of them! Look at them playing their games, misusing their freedom, and blaming their sins on wicked fate. Fate! And blaming us for their crimes! I tell you that I will not tolerate these floundering fools for long! Look! Look there! Do you see what I mean? Adulterous Aegisthus making love to Agamemnon’s wife and scheming that king’s slaughter!4 Listen to the cry of Agamemnon, ‘Oh, I am killed by a mortal blow!’ Why does man sin knowing he will suffer? I even sent Hermes (who slaughtered Argus—but enough of that waggling tale) to Aegisthus before he struck the mortal blow, telling him to beware of desecrating the marriage bed. Yet he ignored my warning. Orestes, the son of Agamemnon, wreaks vengeance on Aegisthus now. Blood war ensues! Oh, these mortal fools! Oh! My head, my head!” moaned Zeus, rubbing the heels of his hands hard against his temples.
Athene rose, her graceful form and azure eyes drawing covetous glances from the others, and said, “Now, Father, son of the Titan Cronus,5 king of kings, the well of power upon the earth—”
“Yes, yes. Out with it,” Zeus growled, glowering from beneath heavily beetled brows. “Nuts and nails! I know you! Wandering words where one will do! Speak!”
“All right.” Athene drew herself up, her bold beauty hammering pulses. She shrugged. “All right. Aegisthus is fate past. Nothing can be done, and Agamemnon’s land is a blood ground. So be it! Why wail over its fate? The die is cast: Aegisthus deserves his death. But my heart aches for Odysseus’s sorrows. Why should he suffer because proud Poseidon pouts, refusing to lift his yoke and forgive Odysseus for the innocent insult he flung at the sea god? Now Odysseus suffers in Calypso’s arms,6 daughter of Atlas,7 upon her sylvan island, where she has entrapped him with sorcery and beauty—”
“Aye, we should all suffer such pains!” one god broke in. The others roared in mirth while Athene cast a disapproving eye upon the author of the ribald jest.
“Now,” she said softly, “Calypso’s wizard father, the author of many jests himself, shoulders the colossal columns that separate heaven and earth.” The offender averted his eyes, reddened, gulping nectar to conceal his chagrin. “Yes, great Odysseus languishes on a rocky isle amid the thunder of great Poseidon’s roaring waves. A lesser man—thrall to Calypso’s charms—would be content, but Odysseus remembers his chimney smoke, the bleat of his sheep, and the warmth of Penelope’s arms.8 For seven years Calypso has sought to soothe his troubled mind, vanquish memory, and smother in his breast all thoughts of Ithaca. For seven years he is lost to hearth and home because he has angered one of us. Yet many times in Troy he honored you, Father, with burnt sacrifices. Still, he is denied Ithaca.”
The cloud-trembler glowered, but she boldly stared him down. He sighed and said, “All right. What words fly so boldly from your lips! Pale daughter, how can I not recall Odysseus? No more resourceful man treads the earth or has so enriched the Immortals enthroned on high. His gifts are vast, but remember he is bold. It is he who stole the Cyclops’s glaring eye. This same Polyphemus, I might add, who is the son of Poseidon from the sea Nymph Thoosa, daughter to the sea king Phorcys, who lay with Poseidon in his hollow caves and bore this wheel-eyed Cyclops to the god of storms. This is why Poseidon torments the great Odysseus. But”—he raised his hands, stifling Athene’s lips—“let us reason and seek to ease the torment of Odysseus since no one god can prevail against a man despite his vaunted powers.”
The gray-eyed maid laughed and cried, “Father and adored king! Let all who reside on Olympus make the wandering Greek their public care and succor his misery. Let Hermes carry our message to the golden-tressed Nymph on Ogygia that it is our will that she no longer hold him fast. I will travel to Ithaca and seek out his son who, despite his green, unpracticed years, shows spirit—although he is hot-blooded and headstrong when caution should work its way through his words. I will advise him to assemble Ithaca’s Greeks and denounce his mother’s suitors who devour their sheep and oxen and desire her for their pride.” She gave a short, ugly laugh. “The suitors will, of course, like foxes whose noses are filled with a vixen’s scent, scorn the words of Telemachus.9 I will counsel him to sail to Sparta and to Pylos to gather news of his wandering father. His search for his father far from Ithaca will draw its people to him. This I will do! You do your part!”10
And she placed her glittering golden sandals upon her alabaster feet, those sandals fledged with ambrosial plumes with which she flies like the wind, and wielding her army-slaughtering spear, she soared from the halls of Olympus to the rocky shores of Ithaca. There, close at Odysseus’s gates, she shape-shifted her lovely form into the lumpy muscled form of Anchialus’s son Mentes, the king of Taphia. She leaned upon her spear, disdaining the suitors lounging on oxhides. They slew those beasts before the gates, diced, drank, roared, and laughed. Serving wenches moved about them, sponging tables, dodging the drunken hands that groped for their breasts and buttocks.
Amid all this sat Telemachus, scorning their drunkenness. His heart ached for his father’s return to scourge these beasts from his palace door. Now, in his mind, he imagines that violent return of Odysseus and hears the thunder of heaven. But in the middle of his daydreams, he sees Athene, disguised, standing alone at the gate and, rising, hastens to her.
“I beg your pardon,” he said hastily. “Whoever you are, please forgive this…this…”He cast about him for words and at a loss shook his head. “Enter. Please. You are most welcome. Join our feasting and tell us why you have come to my home.”
Saying so, he took her spear and placed it against a column where stood many of Odysseus’s spears, dusty with disuse. He led her to a richly embroidered seat far from the boasting suitors. Placing a footstool for her feet, he signaled a maidservant to bring them water in a gorgeous golden pitcher. He took the pitcher from the maidservant and filled a silver basin for her to wash her hands. Another servant brought fresh bread and clear wine for them, and the meat carver sliced the meat free from fat and placed it on a platter before them.11
Some of the rude suitors saw how this newcomer was being treated and sauntered over to take their places on rough-hewn oaken benches near to them, sprawled, legs akimbo, and eyed the newcomer blearily while dribbling wine through gnarled and twisted beards.
With a gesture of distaste, Telemachus motioned for them to be served too, and serving wenches swinging saucy hips hastily brought in baskets filled with coarse-ground bread and set them before the bold wooers, who quickly stuffed their mouths with rich and greasy meat, wiping their hands and fingers on soiled tunics.
“Bring more wine!” one bawled drunkenly and closed one eye in an obscene wink. “And bring in the girls and let us have a bit of wiggle and giggle, eh, boys? What do you say?”
Shouts of agreement followed his words, and a servant brought a harp finely tuned and thrust it into the hands of Phemius. Reluctantly, the famed singer touched his fingers lightly to the warbling wires and began to sing.
“Blustering braggarts!” Telemachus growled, then quickly apologized to Athene. “Forgive me. That was most unmannerly. I am afraid that I have behaved most boorishly.” He could not help but cast a disapproving eye at the revels beginning before them. “But I hope that you will not be offended by these…others,” he finished lamely. “I’m afraid that singing comes cheaply enough for those who do not have to pay the harpist. They forget that this feast has been paid for by one whose white bones lie wasting in some unknown land. And,” he muttered beneath his breath, “if he were here, he would put their fat buttocks to flight sorely enough.” Then, raising his voice and forcing a smile to his young lips, he said, “But enough of my troubles. Please tell me where you are from and what brings you to Ithaca. Are you a stranger to my father’s house or have you been here before?” Then a thought dabbed at him. His eyes narrowed. “You are not a would-be contender for my mother’s hand, are you?”
Athene smiled and dabbled her fingers daintly in the silver finger bowl placed before her and carefully cleaned them with a white damask cloth. “I am Mentes, son of Anchialus, king of the Taphians. I have come with my ship and men across the wine-dark seas on a voyage bound for Temesa with a cargo of iron I wish to trade for copper. My ship rests at anchor in the harbor of Rheithron under Neius’s wooded slopes. Our fathers were friends, as old Laertes, your grandfather, will tell you if you should seek him out. But I understand he seldom comes to town these days, preferring to live by himself in the country with only an old woman to care for him when he comes in from the day’s heat after pottering around in his vineyard. I came because I was told your father had returned home, but”—she looked around the hall with contempt—“I can see that was only the scuttlebutt of wayward rowers more limber with tongue than hands. Mind”—she raised her hands warningly—“I am no prophet, but I have heard from the tongues of those who are that he languishes in some wood somewhere, bearing the inflictions of the gods. I thought he might have made his way here, but he has not. That doesn’t mean he won’t. No iron fetters have been forged that could keep him away! Mark my words upon that, my young friend! Patience! Patience!”
Telemachus blinked away bright tears and said, “I thank you for your words, Mentes. But I wonder about my father and think that he must be dead, or else why has he not returned?”
“Stuff and nonsense!” Athene said hotly. “Dead? Your father?” She frowned. “You are Telemachus, the son of Odysseus, correct?”
“Yes,” Telemachus sighed. “So my mother tells me. I am the son of that star-crossed man.”
“Well, then,” Athene beamed and clapped him on the shoulder so heartily that he caught himself upon the edge of the table to keep from landing face first in the meat sauce. “Fear not your line’s demise while Penelope has a fine lad like you, what? Now, what”—she gestured disdainfully at the drunken disorder about them—“is this chaos about? Hm? Do you celebrate some feast? A wedding in the family? A banquet? No one seems to have brought any food of his own. Most unseemly even for the poorest of guests. And”—she leaned close to the ear of Telemachus—“I must say that they behave like pigs.”
Telemachus sighed and shook his head. “Ah, well! I am afraid, sir, that bad times have fallen upon us. The gods in their displeasure have hidden my father from us, and so these…these ‘fellows’ have come to woo my mother into believing he is dead and to accept one of them in his place. I almost wish my father had fallen gloriously upon the field of Troy, for then the Greeks would have built a mound over his ashes and I would have inherited his fame. But the storm winds have blown that away from me, and now I inherit nothing but shame and this drunken revelry. If this wasn’t enough, the gods have caused me further grief and headache with my father’s absence, for all the chiefs of our islands—Dulichium, Samos, and the forested island of Zacynthus—along with certain headmen from Ithaca itself are eating up our flocks and herds while pretending to court my mother.”
“And your mother?” Athene asked delicately. Telemachus shrugged and spread his hands in dismay.
“What can she do? She does not offer her hand. Night after night these suitors take what they will. Soon I’m afraid, there will be nothing left. And then”—he shrugged—“I’m afraid they will kill me as well.”
Athene sighed and shook her head, sipping from her wine. “I can see that you do need your father about. Give Odysseus a helmet, sword, spear, and shield, and he’d quickly set these oafs on their ears, mark my words! I remember when I saw him in our house. He was coming from Ephyra where he had traveled to visit Ilus, son of the Centaur Mermerus,12 to learn the art of poison for his arrows. Ilus wouldn’t give him any because he feared the wrath of the gods—even then, we knew he had angered the gods somehow, Odysseus, I mean—but my father liked Odysseus and gave him some poison to help him out in his troubles. Now, if Odysseus is half the man he was then, the dust would quickly fly from the heels of these would-be wooers.” She sighed again. “But such is in the hands of the gods.” She pursed her lips and smiled at Telemachus. “A word of advice, my young friend! Call a council tomorrow and lay your case before them. Tell this rabble to shake the dust from your threshold and be away. Then tell your mother that if she is thinking about marrying again, to go back to her royal father who will attend to all the proprieties and find her a worthy gentleman with rich gifts to sustain her.
“After you have done this, take a good ship and trusty men with you and travel first to Pylos where your father’s friend Nestor rules and then to Sparta where golden-haired Menelaus, the last to sail away from the shores of Troy, rules. See if any of them has any word of your father. If you hear he is dead, then return home here and prepare the proper funeral games and feast and erect a mighty tomb in his memory—it doesn’t matter if it harbors only dust and not his bones; it is the thought that counts.” She leaned closer, seeking his ear and whispering gently into it. “Then—and only then, mark you!—make your plans—foul or fair, it doesn’t matter, these rogues haven’t earned any better—how to rid your house of this vermin. You are old enough to be done with the sniveling and whining of youth. Why, haven’t you heard how the people are singing the praises of Orestes who, fired with revenge, killed his father’s murderer, Aegisthus? You have a finely muscled and finely balanced frame. Could you do no less than Orestes? But”—she winked solemnly and held a forefinger in caution against her lips—“mind what I say. Mum’s the word until you make the plan right.”
Telemachus smiled and said, “Thank you for your advice, my friend. I can sense the heart of a friend in your speech, and I can see the soundness of your words. Now, let me call my manservant and have your bath prepared, and while you bathe, I shall select a present for you in gratitude—a keepsake, if you will, of the sort that one friend would give to another.”
Athene shook her head. “Don’t keep me from my trip. As for any present you would wish to give me, why, keep it until I return this way again. I will accept it then and bear it home with me at that time. I will do likewise and leave you with one as worthy as the gift you would have selected for me.”
And like a lark mounting to the sky, she flew away, leaving Telemachus to ponder her words. Strengthened and emboldened, he considered his father’s life and courage. After which his thoughts returned to his guest, and he stood, amazed, wondering if it had not been one of the gods who had traveled from Olympus to bring him the courage to do what needed to be done.
He strode bravely to where Phemius was still singing his sad tale of Odysseus’s return from Troy. His song traveled up the stairs to the room of Penelope who, hearing the sweet trilling of his voice, descended the stairs winding to the courtyard, attended by only two handmaidens. And when the queen entered and stood by a column, holding a veil across her face and weeping bitter tears, all grew silent, waiting for her words.
“Phemius,” she cried, “you have a great many stories about the deeds of the gods and men. Stop this sad song and sing a tale of arms and men. I don’t need to be reminded about my wandering husband even though his fame has spread throughout Greece and Argos.”
Inspired by her bold words, Telemachus said, “Mother, let the poet sing what he wishes, for he isn’t responsible for the song. Music is conjured by mighty Zeus who imparts it to men to make them sad. This man means us no harm by singing of the Danaans’ ill-fated return. It’s the latest of many, and everyone wants to hear the latest song. It’s only human, you know.”
“But—” Penelope began, but her son interrupted her.
“But, nothing. Odysseus isn’t the only one who didn’t return home. Many another wife and mother cries over her losses as well. Go back to your room and your loom and other business. Making speeches is the job for men, and I number among them. Go, now, for I am master here and have a thing or two to say to these jackals.”
She stood for a moment, wondering at her son’s sudden spirit, then turned soundlessly and slipped like a shade back into the house and into her room where she cried and wept her loneliness until Athene took pity upon her and dusted her eyelids with the sands of sleep.
“Ah, now!” cried one suitor drunkenly. “Let one of us come with you and comfort you in your bed. Gods’ balls, but we can make you forget your husband. Our spear is as stiff as his!”
Laughter followed his words. Telemachus turned slowly to the feasters and stared until their laughter broke into hiccoughs and chuckles, then spoke, saying, “You drunken scum! It’s a rare thing to hear a voice as sweet as Phemius has, and I wouldn’t deny you this. So enjoy it for the rest of the night. But in the morning, when the rosy fingers of Dawn13 flicker from the east, be awake and in full assembly, for I intend to give you formal notice at that time to leave my house immediately. You bear yourselves too proudly to suit me. If you wish to continue your feasting, then do it at somebody else’s house, not mine. If you refuse this warning of mine, I’ll add your name to my list, and then you will suffer all that your pride brings upon you.”
The revelers bit their lips to keep from smiling at the youth’s rash words (although some did secretly admire the fire in them), then Antinous, the son of Eupeithes, cried out, “Telemachus! The gods have given you courage, I see. You speak most bravely, although I think there is a bit of cream to your words. May Zeus never give you the throne of Ithaca as he did your father!”
Telemachus eyed him coolly, then answered, “Antinous, don’t be offended when I say that I will be king here, god willing, and it would be no shame to be a king as my father before me. Is that the worst you can wish upon me? If so, your words are written upon water and not the pages of time. Mark me well, loudmouth! I will be king in my own house and will rule those chosen for me to rule.”
“Ah, now, Telemachus! What are these words?” asked Eurymachus, the son of Polybus. “Don’t don the garland before it is draped around you. Only Zeus can decide if you are to be the king here. You may be master in your house and of your possessions. None of us will take them from you. Now, where is this stranger who walked among us? Did he bring word of your father that makes you speak so bravely now?” He chuckled wickedly at his taunt, and others near him snickered in reply.
“My father,” Telemachus said slowly, “is dead and gone, and should rude fame send a flattering messenger with words of his safe return, I wouldn’t give a fig for them. Sometimes my mother sends for a prophet, and I listen to his stories with half an ear, for I no longer believe in divine reckoning. As for the stranger who was among us, he was Mentes, son of Anchialus, king of the Taphians, an old friend of my father.” But, he added silently to himself, also the goddess his father held most highly.
The suitors laughed at his words, commented rudely, gestured obscenely, and returned to their drinking and their brawling. Slapping the serving wenches upon their saucy hips, they pawed their full breasts bouncing bountifully beneath their loose blouses. And when they had drunk enough, they staggered off to their own homes and their own beds.
Telemachus slowly climbed the stairs to his own room high in the tower facing the inner courtyard, thinking weighty thoughts over the words of Antinous and Eurymachus. Eurycleia, daughter of Ops, the son of Peisenor, an old woman who had nursed him through his youth, went before him, bearing a blazing torch in each hand to light the way. Laertes had bought her when she was young, paying twenty oxen for her rare beauty, although he did not bed her, out of respect for his wife.
Telemachus opened the door to his room and sat upon the bed to remove his sandals and tunic. He handed the tunic to her, and she folded it carefully for him and placed it over a beam pin near the bed. She left, pulling the door to with a silver catch, and drew the iron bolt firmly home. Long after her footsteps had faded upon the stairs, Telemachus lay, covered by a blanket of woolen fleece, thinking about his voyage and the counsel that Athene had designed for him.

Here ends the First Book of Homer’s Odyssey.

*All line references are to the Greek text in the W. B. Stanford edition.

Copyright © 2001 by R. L. Eickhoff, Ph.D.

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Table of Contents

Translator's Preface ix
Introduction xix
1 Trouble at Home 3
2 A Gathering and a Parting 16
3 In the Great Hall of Nestor 28
4 With Menelaos and Helen 43
5 A Raft on the High Seas 67
6 Laundry Friends 81
7 The Warmest Welcome 91
8 Songs, Challenges, Dances, and Gifts 101
9 A Battle, the Lotos, and a Savage's Cave 118
10 Mad Winds, Laistrugonians, and an Enchantress 135
11 The Land of the Dead 152
12 Evil Song, a Deadly Strait, and Forbidden Herds 171
13 A Strange Arrival Home 184
14 The House of the Swineherd 197
15 Son and Father Converging 213
16 Father and Son Reunited 229
17 Unknown in His Own House 243
18 Fights in the Great Hall 261
19 Memory and Dream in the Palace 274
20 Dawn of the Death-Day 292
21 The Stringing of the Bow 304
22 Revenge in the Great Hall 317
23 Husband and Wife at Last 332
24 Last Tensions and Peace 343
Notes 359
Names in the Odyssey 409
Bibliography 417
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 464 )
Rating Distribution

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(190)

4 Star

(122)

3 Star

(72)

2 Star

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(50)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 467 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 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.

    2 out of 4 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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  • 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 9 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 2 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 June 19, 2014

    Maze

    .<p>
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    Honey hhhhhhoney. The first letter result 1

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