Translated by Anthony Verity and Introduction by William Allan
Series : Oxford World’s Classics
Oxford University Press
‘Tell me, Muse, of the man of many turns, who was driven
far and wide after he had sacked the sacred city of Troy’
Twenty years after setting out to fight in the Trojan War, Odysseus is yet to return home to Ithaca. His household is in disarray: a horde of over 100 disorderly and arrogant suitors are vying to claim Odysseus’ wife Penelope, and his young son Telemachus is powerless to stop them. Meanwhile, Odysseus is driven beyond the limits of the known world, encountering countless divine and earthly challenges. But Odysseus is “of many wiles” and his cunning and bravery eventually lead him home, to reclaim both his family and his kingdom.
The Odyssey rivals the Iliad as the greatest poem of Western culture and is perhaps the most influential text of classical literature. This elegant and compelling new translation is accompanied by a full introduction and notes that guide the reader in understanding the poem and the many different contexts in which it was performed and read.
Readership : Readers interested in classical literature, epic, myth, Homer; students of classics, ancient history, archaeology, English literature and other modern European literature, comparative literature, philosophy, oriental studies, anthropology, war literature.
There are many translated editions out there. This is a newer one. I received this book from Oxford University Press in exchange for my honest review. The copy I received is a hardcover (no book jacket), with a plain but gorgeous pic on the front and the title and author below it. On the back is the quote written above. All are yellow on a linen, dark cover, with inside yellow cover pages.
Anthony Verity was Master of Dulwich College before his retirement. His previous translations include “Theocritus, The Idylls (2002), Pindar, The Complete Odes (2007), and Homer, The Iliad (2011).
William Allan is McConnell Laing Fellow and Tutor in Classical Languages and Literature at University College, Oxford. His previous publications include “The Adromache” and “Euripedean Tragedy” (2000), “Euripedes: The Children of Heracles” (2001), “Euripides: Medea” (2002), “Euripedes: Helen” (2008), “Homer: The Iliad” (2002), and “Classical Literature: A Very Short Introduction” (2014).
The epic mythological journey of the son of Laertes and Anticlea, Odysseus, takes place following the conquering of the city of Troy using a masterful plan including a wooden Trojan Horse. The journey home to Ithaca takes ten years. Odysseus faces many trials along the way that include: escaping imprisonment by Calypso on Ogygia, battling Cyclops and traveling and living through a journey to Hades, living through the wrath of Neptune at sea and more. During this time, his wife, Penelope, faithfully waits for his return, not knowing if he’s even still alive. She is overwhelmed with suitors, each trying to win the hand of Odysseus’s wife. She resists in a truly epic way. Too bad he didn’t return the gesture.
He manages to return home with help from Hermes, Zeus, and his son Telemachus, who thought his father still alive and had set out on a quest of his own to locate Odysseus with the help of the goddess, Athena. Odysseus is called, “Hero of Ithaca.” I love how “The Odyssey” is written in a story-telling, conversational manner unlike, “The Iliad.”
“The Odyssey” takes the reader on a spiritual journey sharing insight into the human condition through a timeless tale involving exile, temptation, cunning, survival, desire, and social expectations. Odysseus is not the same man upon his return home that he was when he began his journey. His self-examination of his innermost ideas and conceptions have been greatly altered by his quest.
Some may claim that this classic reading is boring and slow, but I didn’t see or experience this for myself. Because of how it’s written and flows, encompassing the basic themes of many Greek tales such as love, friendship and loyalty, and fulfilling quests and becoming a hero, “The Odyssey” is a brilliant and beautiful, epic story that has greatly inspired many important literature pieces throughout history. It will open the door to understanding Greek history at its basic beginnings and be incredibly entertaining in process. “The Odyssey” will forever hold an important place in historical literature.
Some will claim that Odysseus among many other things, is a master negotiator, strategian, and manipulator.
Greek life during this period is superbly shown by Homer. His ability to weave an epic tale of self-discovery in a quest-like format is truly extraordinary.
I will read and re-read this book often. The translation is easy to follow and like I said previously, it’s not the only translation out there so you may want to pick up a few others to compare. This will be a collector’s book for me and has already found its place on my bookshelf.
I gave this book: