, If you re into stuff like this, you can read the full review.Representation of Human The Odyssey by Homer translated by Robert Fitzgerald read by Dan Stevens I humbly declare this book to be the greatest literary work of mankind If you don t learn Greek worth it just to read this Meisterwerk, never mind the rest of the immortal trove of Greek literature you can read it in so many translations that have become classics in their own use of the English language, Fagles and Murray, just to m If you re into stuff like this, you can read the full review.Representation of Human The Odyssey by Homer translated by Robert Fitzgerald read by Dan Stevens I humbly declare this book to be the greatest literary work of mankind If you don t learn Greek worth it just to read this Meisterwerk, never mind the rest of the immortal trove of Greek literature you can read it in so many translations that have become classics in their own use of the English language, Fagles and Murray, just to mention two 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 no less than Lawrence of Arabia The Homeric poems were sung in a less enlightened time, in comparison with the later Greek tragedies, and with the later epics too Apollonius Argonautica was composed, post Greek Tragedy, and his audience would have been, no doubt, familiar with Euripides Medea Questions such as how justice and revenge affect societies were addressed by Aeschylus in the Oresteia likewise, the reception of the anthropomorphic gods, and their pettiness, was raised by Euripides in Hippolytus and the Bacchae Further, the real nature and brutality of warfare was also raised in the Trojan Women Throw in how one state views another state, and questions of racial identity, and you have The Persians by Aeschylus, and Medea by Euripides Additionally, if you include Philoctetes by Sophocles, and the issue of how youth should conduct themselves is also raised If you consider, too, Ajax by Sophocles, and you find that the bloodthirsty myths of an earlier age are filtered through questions that C5 Athenian society faced What is better, the brute force of an unsophisticated Ajax, or the sophistry and rhetorical arguments of Odysseus in Ajax By the time we arrive at Virgil, and The Aenied, brutal events such as the death of Priam by Neoptolemus in Aeneid Book II, are tempered with aenlightened approach Neoptolemus is condemned for killing Priam, and rightly so, as mercy is important, and exemplifies the Romanitas of Sparing the humble, and conquering the proud However, Aeneas doesn t show mercy in his killing of Turnus at the end of Book XII If you re into Greek Literature, read on 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 ody 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 odysseus.their work was done here now Their work was done here now What a great line Wantviolence 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 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 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 muchthan 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 read listened 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 quality 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 quote 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 you.they 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 quoted earlier from the Pope translation Then forth they led , and beganTheir bloody work they lopp d away the man,Morsel 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 hell.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 isbeautiful and farpoetic 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 i.e 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 i.e., 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, 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 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 theflowery, densely poetic translations where the emotion and passion is just a bitin 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 bitadventurous 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 nothingthan 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 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 4.5 stars HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION Quite possibly one of my favourite books It was this novel that ignited my love for Greek and Roman mythology and antiquity leading me to choose a degree in Classical Civilisations.I 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 War.LOVE LOVE LOVE. Okay, so here s what happened 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 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 these hookers without even stopping and here I am Only a little bit late By the way, I crashed the car and six of the guys are in jail Ask for Officer Scylla EhHomer s right Odysseus version is better.P.S 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
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- 08 December 2019 Homer