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Table of contents
Odysseus, however, gave him some wine; the grateful Cyclops promised him that his guest would be the last to be eaten and asked his name, to which Odysseus replied that his name is Nobody. When Polyphemus was drunk, the Ithacans blinded him, and managed to escape. The other Cyclopes asked Polyphemus who had blinded him, and when he replied that Nobody had committed the crime, they left him alone. He managed to reach the coast and cast rocks to Odysseus' ship, who now shouted that his real name was Odysseus. This turned out to be a fatal error: Polyphemus cursed the man who blinded him and prayed his father, Poseidon, to punish the evildoer.
However, it was not Poseidon who created the new problems. The next stop was the land of the Laestrogones, who threw stones and destroyed eleven ships. With one ship left, Odysseus reached Aia, where a witch named Circe changed his men into swine. However, Odysseus had been warned by Hermes and managed to save the situation; he even fell in love with Circe and they lived together for a year.
Then, it was time to go on, but Odysseus needed guidance, and decided to ask advice from Teiresias, the famous seer - who is in the Underworld. The Ithacan descended, met some of the heroes of the Trojan War, and learned how he could return home. He managed to sail along the Sirens, knew a trick to pass through the Symplegades, evaded two monsters named Scylla and Charybdis, and reached the island Trinacia, where the cattle of Helios were grazing.
Unfortunately, Odysseus' companions were hungry and ate the animals; Helios insisted on revenge, and Zeus destroyed the ship with a thunderbolt. Odysseus himself, who had not eaten from the food of the gods, was the only survivor, and washed ashore on Ogygia, where he stayed several years with Calypso. How he reached the island of the Phaeacians, we already know. Moved by the story, the Phaeacians loan Odysseus a ship to return home. When Poseidon discovers that his enemy has reached Ithaca, he is angry, and transforms the ship into a rock; still, Odysseus is home.
This is the end of the first half of the Odyssey, which is essentially about travel. The second half of the Odyssey deals with events at home, on Ithaca. Here, Odysseus meets Athena, who has the appearance of a shepherd and tells the newcomer where he is. Odysseus again hides his true identity, but Athena smiles and tells him who she is, and promises her help.
To ask other readers questions about The Odyssey , please sign up. Is there anything in The Odyssey that suggests Ulysses rebelled against gods, or even denied their existence? Beardsley I haven't read the essays you cite, but from my numerous readings, I can't see that Odysseus to use his real Greek name was anything other than a …more I haven't read the essays you cite, but from my numerous readings, I can't see that Odysseus to use his real Greek name was anything other than a servant and sometimes colleague of the gods.
He respected their power and their will, even when it caused him hardship. When the Odyssey is seen as an allegory for the human soul, the gods are powers we have within us that can lead us back to our own divine selves, and we deny them at our peril. I humbly refer you to my essay on the Odyssey: Homer's Odyssey as Spiritual Quest.
Although they're not exactly sequential, I'd recommend you to read The Iliad first, then The Odyssey. The Iliad provides you huge context, involving …more Although they're not exactly sequential, I'd recommend you to read The Iliad first, then The Odyssey. The Iliad provides you huge context, involving the Trojan War, plenty of characters including Odysseus , and the cosmovision of Ancient Greece.
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See all 23 questions about The Odyssey…. Lists with This Book. Aug 25, Stephen rated it really liked it Shelves: Want more violence you say? How about slaughtering over 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-squishing, 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. There is nothing dry or plodding about the story.
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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 else 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. 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 quote is derived is the Robert Fagles translation which uses contemporary prose and structure while remaining faithful to the content of the original. While listening to the Fagles version, I would often follow along with the Pope translation and let me tell you 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 quoted earlier from the Pope translation.
They wash, and to Ulysses take their way: So ends the bloody business of the day. Very different treatments of the same scene.
In my opinion, the Pope language is more beautiful and far more 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. 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. Delays and detours ensue which take up the first half of the story. 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.
It really is a perfect blend of fun and brain food. 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.. Well Odysseus eventually makes it back to Ithaca, alone and in disguise, after all of this crew have been eaten, squashed, 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 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. 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 more flowery, densely poetic translations where the emotion and passion is just a bit more 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 more 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 more than a bruised ego or even a whim.
The pace of the story is fast and moves quickly with hardly a chance to even catch your breath. It is a big epic story A terrific read as well as one of the most important works in the Western canon. Definitely worth your time. View all 34 comments. I went out after work with the guys, we went to a perfectly nice bar, this chick was hitting on me but I totally brushed her off. Anyway we ended up getting pretty wrecked, and we might have smoked something in the bathroom, I'm not totally clear on that part, and then this gigantic one-eyed bouncer kicked us out so we somehow ended up at a strip club.
The guys were total pigs but not me, seriously, that's not glitter on my neck. And then we totally drove right by "Okay, so here's what happened. And then we totally drove right by these hookers without even stopping and here I am! Only a little bit late!
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By the way, I crashed the car and six of the guys are in jail. Ask for Officer Scylla. Odysseus' version is better. Do not try this story at home unless, when you get there, you're still capable of shooting your arrow into a narrow aperture. Fagles' translation is excellent - the new standard - and Bernard Knox's enormous introduction is the best Homeric essay I've ever read. A good companion read is Hal Roth's We Followed Odysseus - maybe not the most eloquent of books, but he retraces Odysseus's voyage as best he can in his sailboat, which is a pretty rad idea.
I recreated his route as a Google map here, with notes on each of the stops. I also wrote summaries of each book of the Odyssey for a book club discussion; I've pasted them in the comments thread below, if you're interested. View all 42 comments. I have read The Odyssey three times.
The first was not really a read but more 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: The second read was already as an adult. That time I let myself be led by the adventures I have read The Odyssey three times. 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 mind. And this time, with a more 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 reading. Of 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 back.
Then, and this was my surprise, what I always thought of as the core of the Odyssey: 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 more chapters chapters nine to twelve.
And if one recalls what a great deceiver Odysseus can be, one could always wonder at these fables. The rest, the remaining twelve chapters, or half of the book, is the actual Homecoming. What 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. 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 stage. The bard enacts the process of Justice performing through an act of Revenge. There is no layered telling of the tale.
And 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 agony.
View all 36 comments. 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 poet: 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 wanted. Somehow, 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 him.
Well, 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. As for the women, we would be the singing Sirens. So, after he changed — quite 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.
Meanwhile, 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. 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 more 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 ambulance. We 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.
View all 25 comments. Mar 01, Ana rated it really liked it Shelves: Oh Odysseus, how I love thee.. But, bro, you need to get a grip. View all 5 comments. 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 Quixote , 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 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.
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: I didn't have plans to read The Odyssey any time soon - I've never devoted much time to epic poems and this one has more than 12, verses -, but because I've been eying Ulysses on my shelves for quite 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 her. Alongside 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 quality 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 surprised.
I 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 Knox. What 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 quite 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 level. 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. View all 56 comments. But 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 reviewed. Homer 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 excitement. 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 this.
Such 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 boat! Plagued by setback after setback, the journey home takes TEN gruelling years to complete! This is by no means a page-turner and some background knowledge is required to appreciate the finer points. Homer the author, 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.
View all 52 comments. I want to be saying, after multiple different revisions: This is the best I can get toward the truth. 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: 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 sensibility? 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 impact.
There does inevitably come a time when people react cautiously to what is told them, even to the evidence their own eyes. These words Penelope speaks: I felt a constant dread that some bad man would fool me with his lies. There are so many dishonest, clever men She hardly seems a victim at all in this reading, merely an unwilling captor.
The Odyssey by Homer
She is strong, smart, loyal, generous, and brave, all the qualities any man would want for his wife. Others, we get the impression from the text, felt they had no choice. Race is not mentioned but once in this book, very matter-of-factly, though the darker man is a servant to the lighter one: We watch, fascinated, as the gods seriously mess Odysseus about, and then come to his aid. Instead, she watched from the rafters.
There always seemed to be some ramp-up time reading Greek myths in the past, but now the adventures appear perfectly accessible. 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.
View all 43 comments. View all 20 comments. If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Oh, what the Hades, let's throw in a third, not just for its brilliant translation, but also owing to the exotic character behind it: The Homeric poems were sung in a less-enlightened time, in comparison with the later Greek tragedies, and with the later epics too. View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.
Returning from war
Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text. This text is part of: Greek and Roman Materials. Search the Perseus Catalog for: View text chunked by: Current location in this text. Enter a Perseus citation to go to another section or work. Full search options are on the right side and top of the page. Many were the men whose cities he saw and whose mind he learned, aye, and many the woes he suffered in his heart upon the sea,  seeking to win his own life and the return of his comrades. Yet even so he saved not his comrades, though he desired it sore, for through their own blind folly they perished—fools, who devoured the kine of Helios Hyperion; but he took from them the day of their returning.
Now all the rest, as many as had escaped sheer destruction, were at home, safe from both war and sea, but Odysseus alone, filled with longing for his return and for his wife, did the queenly nymph Calypso, that bright goddess,  keep back in her hollow caves, yearning that he should be her husband.