Most translations of The Odyssey are in the kind of standard verse form believed typical of high-serious composition in the ancient world. Yet some scholars believe the epic was originally composed in a less formal, phrase-by-phrase prosody. Charles Stein employs the latter approach in this dramatic, and in some ways truer, version. Famous episodes such as the sirens, Scylla and Charybdis, and the Cyclops, are rendered with previously unseen energy and empathy. The poem’s second half—where Odysseus, returned home to take revenge on his wife’s suitors—has extraordinarily subtle, “novelistic” features that are made more transparent in this version. There is also a special feel for the archaic dimensions of Homer—the world of gods and their complex relations to Fate and Being that other translators tend to deemphasize in order to make the poem feel “modern.” Most versions exclude or minimize the magical aspects of the poem, but Stein gives these elements full play, so that the spirit of a universe predating the classical era shines through. This vibrant version of The Odyssey shows readers not only what the Greeks thought about their gods but the gods themselves. Summaries preceding each chapter and a list of recommended websites help expand the experience.
About The Odyssey
One of the supreme masterpieces of world literature, the Homeric saga of the shipwrecks, wanderings, and homecoming of the master tactician Odysseus encompasses a virtual inventory of the themes and attitudes that have shaped Western culture. The tale of Odysseus’s encounters with such obstacles as Calypso, Circe, Scylla and Charybdis, the Sirens, and the lotus-eaters, and his dramatic return to Ithaca and his patient wife, Penelope, forms a prototype for all subsequent Western epics.
Robert Fitzgerald’s much-acclaimed translation, fully possessing as it does the body and spirit of the original, has helped to assure the continuing vitality of Europe’s most influential work of poetry. This edition includes twenty-five new line drawings by Barnaby Fitzgerald.
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About The Odyssey
In this classic epic chronicle of the Greek Hero on his travels home from the Trojan War, Odysseus survives storm and shipwreck, the cave of the Cyclops, and the isle of Circe. He withstands the lure of the Sirens’ song and a trip to the Underworld, only to find his most difficult challenge at home, where treacherous suitors seek to steal his kingdom and his loyal wife, Penelope.
Favorite of the gods, Odysseus embodies the energy, intellect, and resourcefulness that were of highest value to the ancients and that remain ideals to this day.
In this audiobook recording, translated by Samuel Butler, realize again the power and beauty of the original Greek verse, which demonstrates why the epic tale of THE ODYSSEY inspired such writers as Virgil and James Joyce, and captured the human imagination for nearly three thousand years.
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“[Robert Fitzgerald’s translation is] a masterpiece . . . An Odyssey worthy of the original.” –The Nation
“[Fitzgerald’s Odyssey and Iliad] open up once more the unique greatness of Homer’s art at the level above the formula; yet at the same time they do not neglect the brilliant texture of Homeric verse at the level of the line and the phrase.” –The Yale Review
“[In] Robert Fitzgerald’s translation . . . there is no anxious straining after mighty effects, but rather a constant readiness for what the occasion demands, a kind of Odyssean adequacy to the task in hand, and this line-by-line vigilance builds up into a completely credible imagined world.” –from the Introduction by Seamus Heaney
What Hugh MacDiarmid once said of poetry in general can be said of Homer’s Odyssey in particular: it is ‘human existence come to life;. And just as no amount of specialist learning can prepare one for the experience of life, no lack of background knowledge can prevent a reader from feeling the truth and vitality of Homer’s art. There is, however, something slightly overwhelming about the aura of greatness which surrounds this poet’s name, so a reader approaching The Odyssey for the first time is likely to feel daunted: here, after all, is a masterpiece which has retained its pre-eminence for more than two and a half thousand years. Yet the big surprise awaiting such a reader is Homer’s directness as a storyteller, his sheer accessibility and his gift for collapsing the distance between Bronze Age Greece and our own times.