Category: Homer

book of books – The Odyssey


The reason for reading Homer’s Odyssey was simply because I thought it would make reading James Joyce’s Ulysses easier. Being honest it did not do that because where there were references in Joyce they are either quite oblique or in the wrong order so unless you are really looking for them you miss them.

The surprising thing was that in its own right the book has a solid story and plenty of action at keep you interested and at some points reads like a script for a Sinbad the Sailor or Lord of the Rings film and at others like a who’s who of Olympian Gods.

Plot summary
Odysseus the hero has been marooned on an island for years after upsetting the gods on his way home from victory in Troy. Athena, Zeus’s daughter, looks him on with favour and so is allowed to leave his exile and head home and on the way tells of his adventures with Cyclops, sirens, spider legged six headed beasts and the Gods. But once home he discovers that suitors have moved into his palace and are waiting to marry Penelope his wife so he reveals his true identity to his son and with some old comrades who have remained loyal slaughter them all and things end happily ever after

Is it well written?
The text in set out in poetry form but it reads more like a piece of prose so that is sometimes a challenge. In style it reminds you of anything written in the same way, Dante springs to mind, and has the same dense text that makes you feel that half the time you are missing some crucial details. Having said that it is surprisingly easy to read and the story is gripping enough to make you want to stick with it, although at the end he does spin out the length of time it takes to reveal Odysseus is back and then dispatches the suitors.

Should it be read?
For most people the idea of going out and reading Homer for fun and not because some lecturer has told you to might seem odd. But this does link in with other texts, mot just Ulysses, and for that reason it is one of those books that has a wider relevance for someone who wants to get into literature so should be read.

Version read – there are numerous translations, even my local library stocked three, but I plumped for the Robert Fitzgerald translation in a Collins Harvill hardback

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book of books – The Odyssey


The reason for reading Homer’s Odyssey was simply because I thought it would make reading James Joyce’s Ulysses easier. Being honest it did not do that because where there were references in Joyce they are either quite oblique or in the wrong order so unless you are really looking for them you miss them.

The surprising thing was that in its own right the book has a solid story and plenty of action at keep you interested and at some points reads like a script for a Sinbad the Sailor or Lord of the Rings film and at others like a who’s who of Olympian Gods.

Plot summary
Odysseus the hero has been marooned on an island for years after upsetting the gods on his way home from victory in Troy. Athena, Zeus’s daughter, looks him on with favour and so is allowed to leave his exile and head home and on the way tells of his adventures with Cyclops, sirens, spider legged six headed beasts and the Gods. But once home he discovers that suitors have moved into his palace and are waiting to marry Penelope his wife so he reveals his true identity to his son and with some old comrades who have remained loyal slaughter them all and things end happily ever after

Is it well written?
The text in set out in poetry form but it reads more like a piece of prose so that is sometimes a challenge. In style it reminds you of anything written in the same way, Dante springs to mind, and has the same dense text that makes you feel that half the time you are missing some crucial details. Having said that it is surprisingly easy to read and the story is gripping enough to make you want to stick with it, although at the end he does spin out the length of time it takes to reveal Odysseus is back and then dispatches the suitors.

Should it be read?
For most people the idea of going out and reading Homer for fun and not because some lecturer has told you to might seem odd. But this does link in with other texts, mot just Ulysses, and for that reason it is one of those books that has a wider relevance for someone who wants to get into literature so should be read.

Version read – there are numerous translations, even my local library stocked three, but I plumped for the Robert Fitzgerald translation in a Collins Harvill hardback

book of books – The Odyssey


The reason for reading Homer’s Odyssey was simply because I thought it would make reading James Joyce’s Ulysses easier. Being honest it did not do that because where there were references in Joyce they are either quite oblique or in the wrong order so unless you are really looking for them you miss them.

The surprising thing was that in its own right the book has a solid story and plenty of action at keep you interested and at some points reads like a script for a Sinbad the Sailor or Lord of the Rings film and at others like a who’s who of Olympian Gods.

Plot summary
Odysseus the hero has been marooned on an island for years after upsetting the gods on his way home from victory in Troy. Athena, Zeus’s daughter, looks him on with favour and so is allowed to leave his exile and head home and on the way tells of his adventures with Cyclops, sirens, spider legged six headed beasts and the Gods. But once home he discovers that suitors have moved into his palace and are waiting to marry Penelope his wife so he reveals his true identity to his son and with some old comrades who have remained loyal slaughter them all and things end happily ever after

Is it well written?
The text in set out in poetry form but it reads more like a piece of prose so that is sometimes a challenge. In style it reminds you of anything written in the same way, Dante springs to mind, and has the same dense text that makes you feel that half the time you are missing some crucial details. Having said that it is surprisingly easy to read and the story is gripping enough to make you want to stick with it, although at the end he does spin out the length of time it takes to reveal Odysseus is back and then dispatches the suitors.

Should it be read?
For most people the idea of going out and reading Homer for fun and not because some lecturer has told you to might seem odd. But this does link in with other texts, mot just Ulysses, and for that reason it is one of those books that has a wider relevance for someone who wants to get into literature so should be read.

Version read – there are numerous translations, even my local library stocked three, but I plumped for the Robert Fitzgerald translation in a Collins Harvill hardback

The Odyssey – post X

This epic comes to an end and it has not been the experience I expected at all being much more accessible and enjoyable. You expect this to be a heavy tome that is full of intellectual but irrelevant content but that is far from the reality

Bullet points from chapters twenty two to twenty four

Twenty two
This is a chapter of carnage as one by one the suitors are slaughtered and Odysseus gets his revenge with the text merrily describing the punishment he hands out to the suitors

He then goes further and gets the women, twelve of them, who have betrayed him and gets those maids to take the corpses out and wash down the blood then they are taken and hanged for their disloyalty

Twenty three
There are some scholars, I got his surfing the web, that believe this is where the story should have ended and the next chapter was added later and it makes sense because it is the moment Odysseus and Penelope are reunited

Initially the wife refuses to accept that Odysseus has come back but then he reveals a secret only he would have known and she embraces him and listens as he recounts all that has happened on his travels

Twenty Four
The suitors head into the underworld and recount their tale of woe and blame Penelope for leading them on

Meanwhile Odysseus goes to visit his father and as before pretends at first to be a stranger and back in the town the fathers and friends decide to avenge the suitors deaths and a battle is just on the brink of starting when Athena comes down and orders them to stop and make peace

That’s all so I will post a full review in the next couple of days…

The Odyssey – post X

This epic comes to an end and it has not been the experience I expected at all being much more accessible and enjoyable. You expect this to be a heavy tome that is full of intellectual but irrelevant content but that is far from the reality

Bullet points from chapters twenty two to twenty four

Twenty two
This is a chapter of carnage as one by one the suitors are slaughtered and Odysseus gets his revenge with the text merrily describing the punishment he hands out to the suitors

He then goes further and gets the women, twelve of them, who have betrayed him and gets those maids to take the corpses out and wash down the blood then they are taken and hanged for their disloyalty

Twenty three
There are some scholars, I got his surfing the web, that believe this is where the story should have ended and the next chapter was added later and it makes sense because it is the moment Odysseus and Penelope are reunited

Initially the wife refuses to accept that Odysseus has come back but then he reveals a secret only he would have known and she embraces him and listens as he recounts all that has happened on his travels

Twenty Four
The suitors head into the underworld and recount their tale of woe and blame Penelope for leading them on

Meanwhile Odysseus goes to visit his father and as before pretends at first to be a stranger and back in the town the fathers and friends decide to avenge the suitors deaths and a battle is just on the brink of starting when Athena comes down and orders them to stop and make peace

That’s all so I will post a full review in the next couple of days…

The Odyssey – post IX

This book has been a real surprise because it is nowhere near as dry as expected and has a real rip roaring yarn at its heart full of everything and the way that Homer builds things to the moment when Odysseus reveals himself has been repeated hundreds of times since in literature and in film

Bullet points from chapters nineteen to twenty one

Nineteen
Odysseus talks to Penelope and although she in a dream like state seems to recognise him she still goes to sleep weeping and prays for an end to her misery

Meanwhile Odysseus spends a mainly sleepless night seeing yet more evidence of how little respect there is in the palace for his family or his memory

Twenty
The pressure starts to build and the weapons are hidden from the suitors but they continue to laugh at Odysseus and his son and criticise the ‘tramp’ for staying around the palace

There are several servants who appear for the special holiday that are keen to express support for Odysseus even if it us unfashionable

Twenty One
Penelope ups the ante and brings out a bow and arrow that belonged to Odysseus and tells the suitors that the one that can fire the arrow accurately at a target will win her hand but they all fail to even pull the bow back

Odysseus asks for a go and despite protests gets the bow and pulls it back and this is the moment that we have all been waiting for when the suitors realise who they are dealing with

“Odysseus in one motion strung the bow.
Then slid his right hand down the cord and plucked it,
so the taut gut vibrating hummed and sang
a swallow’s note.

In the hushed hall it smote the suitors
and all their faces changed.”

The end comes tomorrow…

The Odyssey – post IX

This book has been a real surprise because it is nowhere near as dry as expected and has a real rip roaring yarn at its heart full of everything and the way that Homer builds things to the moment when Odysseus reveals himself has been repeated hundreds of times since in literature and in film

Bullet points from chapters nineteen to twenty one

Nineteen
Odysseus talks to Penelope and although she in a dream like state seems to recognise him she still goes to sleep weeping and prays for an end to her misery

Meanwhile Odysseus spends a mainly sleepless night seeing yet more evidence of how little respect there is in the palace for his family or his memory

Twenty
The pressure starts to build and the weapons are hidden from the suitors but they continue to laugh at Odysseus and his son and criticise the ‘tramp’ for staying around the palace

There are several servants who appear for the special holiday that are keen to express support for Odysseus even if it us unfashionable

Twenty One
Penelope ups the ante and brings out a bow and arrow that belonged to Odysseus and tells the suitors that the one that can fire the arrow accurately at a target will win her hand but they all fail to even pull the bow back

Odysseus asks for a go and despite protests gets the bow and pulls it back and this is the moment that we have all been waiting for when the suitors realise who they are dealing with

“Odysseus in one motion strung the bow.
Then slid his right hand down the cord and plucked it,
so the taut gut vibrating hummed and sang
a swallow’s note.

In the hushed hall it smote the suitors
and all their faces changed.”

The end comes tomorrow…