Ὀδύσσεια PDF/EPUB ↠ Paperback

Ὀδύσσεια uite possibly one of my favourite booksIt was this novel that ignited my love for Greek and Roman mythology and antiuity leading me to choose a degree in Classical CivilisationsI always look back on The Odyssey with fondness I love all the monsters he faces and the gods who involve themselves with Odysseus' trials as he makes his way home after the Trojan WarLOVE LOVE LOVE Sing to me of the man Muse the man of twists and turnsdriven time and again off course once he had plunderedthe hallowed heights of TroySo begins Robert Fagles' magnificent translation of the Odyssey which Jasper Griffin in The New York Times Review of Books hails as a distinguished achievementIf the Iliad is the world's greatest war epic then the Odyssey is literature's grandest evocation of everyman's journey though life Odysseus' reliance on his wit and wiliness for survival in his encounters with divine and natural forces during his ten year voyage home to Ithaca after the Trojan War is at once a timeless human story and an individual test of moral endurance In the myths and legends that are retold here Fagles has captured the energy and poetry of Homer's original in a bold contemporary idiom and given us an Odyssey to read aloud to savor and to treasure for its sheer lyrical masteryRenowned classicist Bernard Knox's superb Introduction and textual commentary provide new insights and background information for the general reader and scholar alike intensifying the strength of Fagles' translationThis is an Odyssey to delight both the classicist and the public at large and to captivate a new generation of Homer's students Robert Fagles winner of the PENRalph Manheim Medal for Translation and a 1996 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters presents us with Homer's best loved and most accessible poem in a stunning new modern verse translation So my first “non school related experience with Homer’s classic tale and my most powerful impression beyond the overall splendor of the story wasHOLY SHIT SNACKS these Greeks were a violent bunch Case in point they hauled him out through the doorway into the court lopped his nose and ears with a ruthless knife tore his genitals out for the dogs to eat rawand in manic fury hacked off hands and feet then once they’d washed their own hands and feet they went inside again to join odysseustheir work was done here now Their work was done here now What a great line Want violence you say How about slaughtering over 100 house guests for over indulging in your hospitality Can you say overkill And for the true splatter junkies out there you can add in some casual rapes widespread maiming a score of people suishing crew members being chewed and swallowed healthy doses of mutilation and torture and one cyclops blinding That should make even the most discriminating gore hound leg humping happy Yesthat's meguilty However beyond the cockle warming violence and mayhem this is a rocking good story that I enjoyed as in smile on my face thinking this is genuinely cool” much than I expected to going into it There is nothing dry or plodding about the story Beautifully written and encompassing themes of love loyalty and heroism while commenting on many facets of the human condition As important as this story is to literature it is above all elseENTERTAINING In fact without its massive entertainment factor I'm pretty sure it's overall importance among the classics would be significantly reduced Thankfully there is no risk of that A NOTE ON THE TEXT Before I continue I want to comment on the version I readlistened to because I think can be critical to people’s reaction to the story There are a TRUCKLOAD of Odyssey translations out there and from what I’ve seen they range wider in uality and faithfulness to the original text than those of almost any other work of Western Literature These versions can differ so much that I believe two people with identical reading tastes could each read a different translation and walk away with vastly different opinions on the work The version I am reviewing and from which the above uote is derived is the Robert Fagles translation which uses contemporary prose and structure while remaining faithful to the content of the original I found it a terrific place for a “first experience” with this work because of how easy to follow it was Plus I listened to the audio version read by Sir Ian McKellen which was an amazing experience and one I HIGHLY RECOMMEND In addition to the Fagles version I also own the Alexander Pope translation as part of my Easton Press collection of The 100 Greatest Books Ever Written While listening to the Fagles version I would often follow along with the Pope translation and let me tell youthey are vastly different While the overall story is the same the presentation prose and the structure are nothing alike As an example here is the same passage I uoted earlier from the Pope translation Then forth they led and beganTheir bloody work; they lopp’d away the manMorsel for dogs then trimm’d with brazen shears The wretch and shorten’d of his nose and ears;His hands and feet last felt the cruel steel;He roar’d and torments gave his soul to hellThey wash and to Ulysses take their waySo ends the bloody business of the day Very different treatments of the same scene In my opinion the Pope language is beautiful and far poetic and lyrical than the Fagles translation However I am glad I started with the Fagles version because it provided me with a much better comprehension of the story itself No head scratching moments Now that I have a firm grounding in the story I plan to go back at some point and read the Pope version so that I can absorb the greater beauty of that translation In a nutshell I'm saying that you should make sure you find a translation that works for you That’s my two or three cents THE STORY So Odysseus master strategist and tactician not to mention schemer manipulator and liar extraordinaire travels home to Ithaca after the Trojan War Delays and detours ensue which take up the first half of the story Most of these travel snags are caused by Poseidon who is grudging on Odysseus for stick poking Poseidon’s son ie the Cyclops in the peeper Not to fear Athena goddess of guile and craftiness is a proud sponsor of Odysseus and along with some help for big daddy god Zeus throws Odysseus some Olympian help Odysseus’ travels are full of great summer blockbuster like entertainment and at the same time explore all manner of Greek daily life as well as touching on many of their beliefs and traditions It really is a perfect blend of fun and brain food From his time on the island homes of the goddesses Calypso and Circe who he gets busy with despite his “undying” love for his wife Penelopemen huh to his run ins with the giant Laestrygonians and the Lotus eaters ie thugs and drugs and his fateful encounter with the Cyclops Polyphemus Odysseus even takes a jaunt to the underworld where he speaks to Achilles and gets to listen to dead king Agamemnon go on an anti marriage rant because his conniving wife poisoned him to death Homer does a superb job of keeping the story epic while providing the reader with wonderful details about the life of the greek people during this period The man had story telling chops Meanwhile while Odysseus is engaged in the ancient greek version of the Amazing Race back on Ithaca we’ve got a full fledged version of the Bachelorette going on as over a hundred suitors are camped out at Odysseus pad trying to get Penelope to give them a rose This has Odysseus’ son Telemachus on the rage because the suitors are eating drinking and servant boinking him out of his entire inheritance while they wait on Penelope You might think that Telemachus could just kick the freeloaders out but the law of “hospitality” was huge for the Greeks and the suitor douches use it to full advantage Well Odysseus eventually makes it back to Ithaca alone and in disguise after all of this crew have been eaten suashed drowned or otherwise rendered life impaired Not an easy place to live is ancient Greece Odysseus proceeds to work a web of deceit and revenge against the suitors that is a wonder to behold I’ll leave the final climax to you but I will say that there was no free lunch in Homer’s time and the checks that people wrote with their bad behavior are paid in full MY THOUGHTS This was a fun fun fun read I want to start with that because this is not one of those classics that I think is worth while only to get it under your belt or checked off a list This was a great story with great characters and in a style that was both “off the usual path” but still easy to follow Going back to my comments on the various versions of the story I think this may end up being a five star read in one of the flowery densely poetic translations where the emotion and passion is just a bit in your face I am still thrilled to have listened to the version I did especially as read by Gandalf because I now have a firm foundation in the story and can afford to be a bit adventurous with my next version The tone of the story is heroic and yet very dark The gods are capricious and temperamental and cause a whole lot of death and devastation for nothing than a bruised ego or even a whim The pace of the story is fast and moves uickly with hardly a chance to even catch your breath It is a big epic storyit is THE BIG EPIC STORYand its reputation is well deserved A terrific read as well as one of the most important works in the Western canon Definitely worth your time 45 stars HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION I have read The Odyssey three times The first was not really a read but of a listen in the true oral tradition During embroidery class one of us young girls on the verge of entering the teens would read a passage while the rest were all busy with our eyes and fingers our needles and threads All learning to be future Penelopes crafty with their crafts cultivated patient and loyal And all wivesThe second read was already as an adult That time I let myself be led by the adventures and imagination of the ‘resourceful’ one Relishing on the literary rhythm of the hexameters I particularly enjoyed the epithets used by the bards to keep the attention of the listeners Dawn of the rosy fingers was my favourite By then my embroideries were far away from my mindThis third time I read it in preparation for tackling Joyce’s take on Homer And this time with a detached stance I have been surprised by the structure of the work the handling of time and the role of narration And those aspects I take with me in this third readingOf the twenty four books the first four or Telemachiad are preliminary Acting as an overture they take place not too long before the main action The following four are another preamble which take place roughly at the same time as the previous four The son and the father are getting ready to meet almost at the end of twenty years of their separation with ten at the war and ten coming backThen and this was my surprise what I always thought of as the core of the Odyssey the magical adventures with the Cyclops and Polyphemus the Lotus Eaters the Sirens Circe and the trip to the Underworld the Laestrygonias Scylla and Charybdis the Sun God etc forming what is called the Apologoi are a very small part of the book All of these eventful episodes take place along three years before the seven that Odysseus is amorously trapped by Kalypso And these are narrated after the fact by Odysseus himself in just four chapters chapters nine to twelve So to what in my mind was the meat of the Odyssey is only 17% of the book And if one recalls what a great deceiver Odysseus can be one could always wonder at these fablesThe rest the remaining twelve chapters or half of the book is the actual HomecomingWhat I have realized now is that The Odyssey is really about this Homecoming And that is what we witness directly All the enchanted adventures are told tales Odysseus as the bard chanting his own stories in the court of the Phaeacians A supreme teller since through his fables he has to build the image of the hero that his possibly dangerous audience see and do not see Odysseus as myth and myth maker No wonder his epithet of ‘the resourceful one’If the Homecoming had previously stayed in my mind as just an expected end in which all the invective and riveting elements are drearily put at an end as if one could already close the door and leave the one I have read now surprised me by its dramatization A different craft is at stageThe bard enacts the process of Justice performing through an act of Revenge There is no layered telling of the tale In the last half of the poem the pace and complexity of the various elements as they converge in the palace to play out divine retribution in which success does not seem assured not even to the great Odysseus who knows he has Athena’s support has seemed this third time round magisterialAnd it is Penelope the patient the apprehensive the one who for twenty years has protected her mistrust with her weaving the one who with her threads offers the needed opportunity that the resourceful hero is at pains to find When she announces that she is about to end to the tapestry that has become her life the beggar can then put also an end to the agonyCrafted Homecoming Ever since I first read Homer’s epic describing the adventures of Odysseus back in my school days three of those adventures fired my imagination The Lotus Eaters The Cyclops and the Sirens most especially the Sirens I just did revisit these sections of this Greek epic and my imagination was set aflame yet again How much you ask Here is my microfiction as a tribute to the great poetTHE SIRENS This happened back in those days when I was a member of an experimental performing arts troupe down in Greenwich Village We would read poetry dance and act out avant garde plays in our dilapidated little theater For a modest charge people could come in and watch for as long as they wantedSomehow a business executive who worked downtown in the financial district heard of what we were doing and spoke with our director about an act he has all worked out but needed a supporting cast and that he would pay handsomely if we went along with himWell experimental is experimental and if we were going to be well paid we had nothing to lose The first thing he did was pass out our costumes In addition to himself he had parts for three men and three women The play we were to perform was so simple we didn’t even need a written script He was to be Odysseus from Homer’s epic and three men would be his sailors As for the women we would be the singing SirensSo after he changed – uite a sight in a loincloth being gray haired jowly pasty skinned and potbellied – we went on stage and he told the sailors how no man has ever heard the hypnotic songs of the Sirens and lived to tell the tale but he mighty Odysseus would be the first He instructed the sailors to tie him to the ship’s mast They used one of the building’s pillars and when he cried out as the Sirens sang their song the sailors who had wax in their ears were to bind him to the mast even tighterMeanwhile three of us ladies were on stage as the Sirens in costume bare breasted and outfitted with wings We began singing a sweet lilting melody Mike – that was the businessman’s name – started screaming and the sailors tightened the ropes that bound him The sailors were glad their ears were plugged as Mike screamed for nearly half an hour When the ship passed out of earshot of the Sirens the sailors unbound mighty Odysseus and he collapsed on our makeshift stage a mass of exhausted middle aged flesh The audience applauded even cheered and we continued our performance of Odysseus and the Sirens every night for than a week Then one night Mike outdid himself His blue eyes bulged the veins in his neck popped and his face turned a deeper blood scarlet than ever before And what I feared might happen did happen – Mike had a heart attack We had to interrupt our performance and call an ambulanceWe all thought that was the end of our dealing with Mike aka Odysseus until our director received a call from the hospital Mike told her he was going to be just fine and would be back on stage next week We called a meeting and everyone agreed that we would suggest Mike seek psychiatric help but if he insists on playing Odysseus he will have to take his act elsewhere I’m not normally a praying man but if you’re up there please save me Superman —Homer SimpsonFollowing James Joyce’s lead I used Homer’s heroic story as inspiration and research for a novel in progressBut how can I a mere mortal do justice to the most famous epic poem ever written An encounter with a work of this magnitude should be shared rather than reviewedHomer is the great great great recurring grand daddy of modern literature and this colossus is as immortal as the gods within it And what a tale this must have been way back in the 8th century BC Then it was sung rather than read and I guess the first to bear witness must have been jigging about in their togas with unbridled excitementAlas I didn’t read it in ancient Greek as Homer had intended My copy was transcribed to a Kindle rather than papyri and translated by none other than the genius that was Alexander Pope yep I went old school on thisOdysseus he of the title otherwise known in Latin as Ulysses embarks on a perilous stopstart um odyssey attempting to get home to Ithaca after fighting in the Trojan War for a decadeSuch an amazing story overflowing with an abundance of adventure Poor Odysseus having battled treacherous seas wrathful gods enchanting sirens and a Cyclops then has to put up with big bad Poseidon weighing in with some nautical muscle and shipwrecking his boatPlagued by setback after setback the journey home takes TEN gruelling years to complete And as if that wasn’t bad enough wife Penelope has meanwhile given up hope of him returning home alive and is being courted by one hundred suitors none of whom are fit to kiss our hero’s sandalsThis is by no means a page turner and some background knowledge is reuired to appreciate the finer points Pope has done an amazing job to remain somewhat sympathetic to the timbre of Homer’s lyrical story and his rhyming couplets are a thing to behold But when the star of eve with golden lightAdorn’d the matron brow of nightBeautifulHomer the poet not the cartoon character has fuelled the imagination of countless authors throughout the centuries and therefore it would be sacrilege for me to award anything less than five heroic stars Οδύσσεια The Odyssey Homer The Odyssey begins after the end of the ten year Trojan War the subject of the Iliad and Odysseus has still not returned home from the war because he angered the god Poseidon Odysseus' son Telemachus is about 20 years old and is sharing his absent father's house on the island of Ithaca with his mother Penelope and a crowd of 108 boisterous young men the Suitors whose aim is to persuade Penelope to marry one of them all the while reveling in Odysseus' palace and eating up his wealth The Odyssey Characters Odysseus Penelope Helen of Troy Achilles Agamemnon Telemachus Minerva Polyphemusعنوانها ادیسه؛ اودیسه؛ اثر هومر؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش سال 1973 میلادیعنوان ادیسه؛ اثر هومر؛ مترجم سعید نفیسی؛ تهران، بنگاه ترجمه و نشر، 1337؛ چاپ دوم 1344؛ چاپ سوم 1349؛ در 576 ص؛ چاپ چهارم سال 1359؛ موضوع اساطیر یونانی سده هشتم پیش از میلادترجمه سعید نفیسی با عنوان اودیسه نیز چاپ شده استیکی از دو کتاب کهن اشعار حماسی یونان، اثر «هومر» در سده ی هشتم پیش از میلاد است این کتاب همچون «ایلیاد»، به صورت مجموعه‌ ای از سرودها گردآوری شده، اما شیوه ی روایت آن با «ایلیاد» تفاوت دارد «ادیسه» سرگذشت بازگشت یکی از سران جنگ «تروآ ادیسیوس یا الیس» فرمانروای «ایساکا» است در این سفر که بیش از بیست سال، به درازا می‌انجامد، ماجراهای بسیاری برای وی و همراهانش پیش میآید در نهایت «ادیسیوس» که همگان گمان می‌کردند کشته شده، به وطن خود باز گشته، و دست متجاوزان را از سرزمین، و زن و فرزند خود کوتاه می‌کند، «ادیسه» در این داستان ماجراهای بسیاری دارد او در جنگ با تروآ تصمیم می‌گیرد، اسبی از جنس چوب، و بسیار بزرگ بسازد، و با حیله اسب را به عنوان هدیه ی صلح و آشتی، وارد قلعه «تروآ» بکند او خود و افرادش، در داخل اسب پنهان میشوند، تا بتوانند قلعه را تصرف کند؛ اما یک پیشگو، پادشاه تروآ را از بردن اسب به داخل قلعه منع می‌کند، و «پوسایدون» فرمانروای قدرتمند دریا، حیوان دست آموزش را می‌فرستد، تا پیشگو را هلاک کند پادشاه تروآ، سرانجام اسب را داخل قلعه می‌آورد، و شب هنگام «ادیسه» شبیخون زده؛ و قلعه را تصرف می‌کند او با غرور می‌اندیشد که به تنهایی قلعه را تصرف کرده؛ پوسایدون عصبانی میشود، و «ادیسه» را محکوم می‌کند، تا ابد در دریا سرگردان بماند «ادیسه» در کشتی خود در دریای بی‌انتها، به نفرین «پوسایدون» دچار می‌شود دیری نمی‌گذرد، که به جزیره‌ ای می‌رسد در آن جزیره، غاری پیدا می‌کند، که در آن غار غذای فراوانی وجود دارد در غار با افرادش به عیش و نوش مشغول می‌شود؛ غافل از آنکه، صاحب غار، غولی یک چشم؛ بنام «پولیتیموس» فرزند «پوسایدون» است «پولیتیموس» یکی از افراد «ادیسه» را می‌خورد؛ و «ادیسه» با نیرنگ، معجون خواب آوری به او می‌خوراند، و سپس با چوبی که انتهای آن تیز است، در خواب غول را کور می‌کند غول در حالیکه از درد فریاد می‌زند، سنگ عظیمی که غار را پوشانده، کنار می‌زند؛ و «ادیسه» و همراهانش فرار می‌کنند «ادیسه» دوباره راهی دریا می‌شود، و برای برداشتن آب، به جزیره‌ ای پا می‌گذارد، در آن جزیره، با «آنوس» فرمانروای باد و طوفان، و پسرعموی «پوسایدون» برمی‌خورد؛ و «آنوس» به باد فرمان می‌دهد، که «ادیسه» را ظرف نه روز، به «ایساکا» زادگاهش برساند؛ و باد را داخل کیسه کرده، و به «ادیسه» می‌دهد در راه، در حالیکه به «ایساکا» رسیده بودند، و «ادیسه» در خواب بود؛ افرادش به او خیانت کرده، و در کیسه را به امید یافتن طلا باز می‌کنند اما طوفان حاصل از باد داخل کیسه، آنها را دوباره در جزیره‌ ای ناشناخته در دریا می‌برد داستان ده سال از مسافرت «ادیسئوس» در بازگشت از جنگ «تروا» ست؛ ا شربیانی The first line in Emily Wilson’s new translation of the Odyssey the first by a woman scholar is “Tell me about a complicated man” In an article by Wyatt Mason in the NYT late last year Wilson tells us “I could’ve said ‘Tell me about a straying husband’ And that’s a viable translation That’s one of the things the original language saysBut I want to be super responsible about my relationship to the Greek text I want to be saying after multiple different revisions This is the best I can get toward the truth” Oh the mind reels This new translation by Emily Wilson reads swiftly smoothly and feels contemporary This exciting new translation will surprise you and send you to compare certain passages with earlier translations In her Introduction Wilson raises that issue of translation herself How is it possible to have so many different translations all of which could be considered “correct” Wilson reminds us what a ripping good yarn this story is and removes any barriers to understanding We can come to it with our current sensibility and find in it all kinds of foretelling and parallels with life today and perhaps we even see the genesis of our own core morality a morality that feels inexplicably learned Perhaps the passed down sense of right and wrong of fairness and justice we read of here was learned through these early stories and lessons from the gods Or are we interpreting the story to fit our sensibilityThese delicious uestions operate in deep consciousness while we pleasure in learning about that liar Odysseus described again and again as wily scheming cunning “his lies were like truth” He learned how to bend the truth at his grandfather’s knee and the gods exploited that talent when they helped him out The skill served him well allowing him to confuse and evade captors throughout his ordeal as well as keep his wife and father in the dark about his identity upon his return until he could reveal the truth at a time of maximum impactThere does inevitably come a time when people react cautiously to what is told them even to the evidence their own eyes The gods can cloud one’s understanding it is well known and truth is suspected in every encounter These words Penelope speaks Please forgive me do not keep bearing a grudge because when I first saw youI would not welcome you immediatelyI felt a constant dread that some bad manwould fool me with his lies There are so manydishonest clever men Particularly easy to relate to today are descriptions of Penelope’s ungrateful suitors like Ctesippius who encouraged by extraordinary wealth had come to court Odysseus’ wife Also speaking insight for us today are the phrases Weapons themselves can tempt a man to fight and Arms themselves can prompt a man to use themThere is a conflicted view of women in this story Sex sways all women’s minds even the best of them though Penelope is a paragon of virtue managing to avoid temptation through her own duplicitousness She hardly seems a victim at all in this reading merely an unwilling captor She is strong smart loyal generous and brave all the ualities any man would want for his wifeWe understand the slave girls that Odysseus felt he had to “test” for loyalty were at the disposal of the ungrateful suitors who after they ate and drank at Penelope's expense often met the house girls after hours Some of the girls appeared to go willingly laughing and teasing as they went and were outspoken about their support of the men they’d taken up with Others we get the impression from the text felt they had no choiceRace is not mentioned but once in this book very matter of factly though the darker man is a servant to the lighter one Odysseus had a valet with himI do remember named Eurybatesa man a little older than himselfwho had black skin round shoulders woolly hair and was Odysseus's favorite our of all his crewbecause his mind matched his Odysseus’s tribulations are terrible but appear to be brought on by his own stubborn and petulant nature like his taunting of the blinded Cyclops from his own escaping ship Cyclops was Poseidon’s son so Odysseus's behavior was especially unwise particularly since his own men were yelling at him to stop Later that betrayal of the men’s best interests for his own childish purpose will come back to haunt Odysseus when the men suspect him of thinking only of himself greediness and unleash terrible winds by accident blowing them tragically off course in rugged seas We watch fascinated as the gods seriously mess Odysseus about and then come to his aid We really get the sense of the gods playing as in Athena’s willingness to give Odysseus strength and arms when fighting the suitors in his house but being unwilling to actually step in to help with the fighting Instead she watched from the rafters It’s hard not to be just a little resentful Wilson’s translation reads very fast and very clearly There always seemed to be some ramp up time reading Greek myths in the past but now the adventures appear perfectly accessible Granted there are some names you’ll have to figure out but that’s part of being “constructively lost” as Pynchon saysA book by book reading of this new translation will begin March 1st on the Goodreads website hosted by Kris Rabberman Wilson’s colleague at the University of Pennsylvania To prepare for the first online discussion later this week Kris has suggested participants read the Introduction If interested readers are still not entirely convinced they want this literary experience now some excerpts have been reprinted in The Paris Review It's impossible not to smile when you start reading such a classic and after only the first few pages you realize and completely understand why it's regarded as one of the most important works in literature I'm always a little anxious when I tackle such important and renowned books for being afraid of not comprehending or loving them War and Peace and Don uixote for example as they seem to deserve Not that I'm obligated to like them but I always feel such buzz comes for a reason and I try to at least find out why With The Odyssey once again I find that the ones who have read it before me were right it's amazingI didn't have plans to read The Odyssey any time soon I've never devoted much time to epic poems and this one has than 12000 verses but because I've been eying Ulysses on my shelves for uite some time I decided to prepare myself for it and read about Odysseus with a great group here on Goodreads To call Homer's book simply a preparation for Joyce's work is now not only unfair but also absurd to me However I'm glad that I finally read it whatever the reason behind it was The Odyssey tells the story of Odysseus's Ulysses journey back to his home Ithaca to return to his wife Penelope and son Telemachus after twenty years of absence Our hero left his home to fight in the Trojan War that alone lasted ten years and encountered too many obstacles that kept him away for another ten years Back in Ithaca people had already lost hope that he could still be alive and his wife was being courted by suitors who wanted to marry herAlongside the emotional and heartfelt story what grabbed my attention here was the poem's style and structure For a work that's believed to have been written in the 8th century BC its uality and refinement certainly amazed me Some of the story is told through flashbacks some of it is told through different narrators and its narratives are non linear so I was positively surprisedI could try to write an analysis about the recurring themes on the book vengeance spiritual growth hospitality or try to decipher its symbolism much has been written about Odysseus's bow Laertes's shroud the sea but I feel I would fail and wouldn't be able to do it in a deep level especially after having read the great introduction and notes written by Bernard KnoxWhat kept me away from Homer's work was the fear that it would be too dense and heavy on mythology it is mythological of course making it hard for me to understand it Although labored the narrative is uite simple and easy to follow Knox's notes were a great companion to fill in the details I needed to comprehend the book in a deeper levelRating it's my belief that a great book not only satisfy your expectations but also inspire you to delve further into its writer's other works similar subjects or even other books from the same time period The Odyssey raised my interest about Greek mythology and The Iliad so I guess it served its purpose with high colors Because of that 5 glowing and beautiful stars I first read Homer in the 19th century French translation by Leconte de Lisle — the euivalent say of the 18th century translation into English by Alexander Pope a pompous archaic and exhausting bore of a book I kept my chin up and after a while tried another inflated Frenchman the 1955 translation by the curly moustached Victor Bérard in the prestigious Pléiade edition with an odd arrangement of chapters A bit less depraved than the Parnassian poet but all in all alack not much better And then only last year came this new English translation by Emily Wilson an American academic and allegedly the first woman to translate Homer into English And it is a damned refreshing take on Homer Basically it’s the first time I’m reading The Odyssey without dozing off on every other pageYet Wilson laid down a daunting challenge to herself to keep the exact same number of verses as in Homer’s epic and transpose the Greek’s dactylic hexameters into the traditional Shakespearian iambic pentameter An amazing feat indeed and she pulled it off with ease concealing like an expert weaver the technicalities of her achievement and dodging some of the ponderousness of the Homeric text not least of which is the grinding epithets attached to each character or some awkward similes that pop up from time to time the result is an unaffected luminous poem sometimes energetic sometimes delicate that flows effortlessly focusing our attention not on some turgid embalming purple prose but on what is actually at stake in the story and on the beat of the taleA few things become glaringly apparent thanks to this new translation Odysseus is not uite the wise and glorious war hero that we might think He is as Wilson states in her opening verse “a complicated man” who messes around with everyone he encounters and talks rubbish on every occasion in short he is an inveterate liar So much so that in the end he could easily ualify as the first case of “unreliable narrator” Most notably when he is invited at the court of Alcinous and tells the story of his misadventures after the Trojan War — the famous embedded and somewhat fantastical tale books 9 12 of the Cicones Lotus Eaters Cyclopes Aeolus Laestrygonians Circe Helios the dead the Sirens Charybdis and Scylla and Calypso — we cannot help but wonder to what extent Odysseus is making all this up to entertain his generous hosts Later on Odysseus will tell a completely different account of his adventures to other people or a strongly expurgated version of the first tale to his own wife misrepresenting himself to her In short he is indeed a consummated storyteller — a shining mask for the rhapsodist himselfIf The Iliad is the grandfather of pretty much all literature then The Odyssey is the grandmother Aeneas Sindbad Gulliver Robinson Pym Ahab Nemo are all descendents of Odysseus; Hamlet is a sort of echo of Telemachus; Excalibur is an ersatz of Odysseus’ mighty bow; James Joyce’s Dublin is a Homeric town We might wonder however why Odysseus’ adventures have become a significant source of inspiration for writers and scholars who claim to be feminists like Emily Wilson of course but also recently Madeline Miller with her best seller Circe and a few years ago Margaret Atwood and her PenelopiadClearly most characters in The Odyssey express a form of mistrust towards the opposite sex men believe women to be either nosy sluts or demi hags; women would rather turn men into pigs or captives than actually deal with them Even the fair ueen Penelope — the only character who is on the level and the antithesis of the treacherous and fiendish Clytemnestra — is actually just as deceptive weaving and unweaving her crewelwork to avoid standing up to the wolfish suitors That being so let’s save the old nanny Eurycleia if you insist But after all isn’t this gender suspiciousness at the heart of feminism It is notable by the way that although Odysseus looks like the paragon of manliness and a confirmed skirt chaser Penelope Circe Calypso Nausicaa the fact of the matter is that he is either the punchbag of Poseidon a male god or a puppet in the hands of the goddess Athena a female who transforms him at will stultifies his enemies and makes him the pin up of every girl he encounters I will confess men are at best a bit ridiculous and irritating — if not “complicated” — in this old taleTo top it all off the Odyssey is at its heart a tale of extreme violence I’m not just thinking of the savagery of Polyphemus the Laestrygonians or Scylla all blood thirsty monsters who decimate Odysseus’ crewmen I’m thinking of Odysseus himself probably the most blood thirsty character in the whole poem In actual fact instead of coming back home as the one true king of Ithaca and properly claim back his throne and wife in a straightforward manner he chooses or instead follows Athena’s plan to approach the suitors under the guise of a despicable old beggar puts the devil in them — curses insults and stools fly back and forth across the saloon on every page — and when the time is ripe gets into a shooting spree slaughters the suitors pitilessly one by one they are a bunch of than a hundred dudes and tortures atrociously whoever herdsmen or slave girls alike got mixed up with them The Odyssey ends with a big spring cleaning in a merry bath of haemoglobin Which begs a nagging uestion seeing how he behaves might Odysseus himself not have killed his crew at sea perhaps to gobble them up since he is such a gourmand of meatballs and shish kebabs and later on have told all sorts of baloney about cyclops and shipwrecks to justify his situation Anyway had Homer been working in Hollywood instead of Ancient Greece he would indeed be on the same side as Peckinpah Coppola Scorsese and TarantinoAnd now let’s wait for Emily Wilson to work her magic on The Iliad


About the Author: Homer

Όμηρος is considered the author of The Iliad and The Odyssey and is revered as the greatest of ancient Greek epic poets These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature and have had an enormous influence on the history of literatureWhen he lived is unknown Herodotus estimates that Homer lived 400 years before his own time which would place him at around 850 BCE while other ancient sources claim that he lived much nearer to the supposed time of the Trojan War in the early 12th century BCE Most modern researchers place Homer in the 7th or 8th centuries BCEThe formative influence of the Homeric epics in shaping Greek culture was widely recognized and Homer was described as the teacher of Greece Homer's works which are about fifty percent speeches provided models in persuasive speaking and writing that were emulated throughout the ancient and medieval Greek worlds Fragments of Homer account for nearly half of all identifiable Greek literary papyrus finds


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