Monday, August 13, 2007

The Odyssey - Homer

Rating : 5.0/5
Reason for reading : Various challenges, always meant to get around to it

The Odyssey covers the twenty years Odysseus is away from his family and friends in Ithica. The first ten years or so are spent in Troy where he fights on the side of the Greeks against the Trojans (see The Iliad) and concieves the idea of the famous "wooden horse". The remainder of his time away is spent on an ill-fated journey home where he looses all of his crew at various stages.

The main cause of delay is due to Poseidan the Earth-Shaker after he blinds his son, Cyclops Polyphemus. He is then detained by Circe (a demi-Goddess who is a witch). After an incident where she turns some of his crew into pigs, she sends him to the Underworld to speak to the seer Teiresias to learn how to return homw. After he leaves he faces the Sirens and the monsters Scylla and Charybdis who carry off some of his crew. The rest of his crew are killed after eating the Sun-Gods cattle on the island Thrinacia as punnishment. Odysseus is then detained 7 more years on the island of Ogygia where he washes up by Calypso. She is trying to get him to marry her and become immortal.

Eventally he gets back to his homeland with a little help from the Phaeacians and the Goddess Athena disguises him. While he has been away his wife has been beset by suitors who are trying to win her hand (assuming Odysseus is dead) in marriage and are treating his house and son Telemachus with disresect. Eventually father and son team up to kill all the suitors and all are finally reunited.

I really enjoyed this book, more so than The Iliad. I definately recommend reading The Iliad and then The Odyssey, not just because it makes sense chronologically but also because this is a more enjoyable story. The only problem I really had was that poor sensible Penelope is never consulted or trusted by her son or husband. Telemachus runs off and doesn't tell her and then Odysseus returns and tells his son and old nurse, but not his wife who has spent the last twenty years crying and mourning his loss. Pretty heartless really!

11 comments:

Alice Teh said...

You've read The Odyssey! WOW!! Two thumbs up for you!! :D

Rhinoa said...

I sure have, you should give it a go. My mum studied it at school and had to translate it from Latin which sounds much more complicated than simpliy reading an English translation...

Chris said...

So glad you enjoyed this one :) It's one of my favorite books. I agree with you about how Penelope is treated. It really was quite sad.

Literary Feline said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed The Odyssey, Rhinoa. I read it quite awhile ago, but I really liked it too. Had I been rating books back then, I'm sure I would have given it a 5 too. :-) I haven't read the Iliad at all though. I'd like to someday.

Mailyn said...

I love the Odyssey! Better than the Iliad by a long shot. LOL.

Nymeth said...

I've been slowly but surely making my way through this and so far I've been really enjoying it. It's such an interesting story. I'm going to read The Iliad next year (wrong order, I know, but I suspected I'd enjoy this one much more so I couldn't resist it).

You should give Margaret Atwood's "The Penelopiad" a try. It's a really fast read and it addresses exactly the way Penelope is treated by finally showing her side of things.

Daphne said...

I read The Odyssey in high school and remember not understanding a lot of it. I probably should read it again now that I'm older.

Alyson said...

I love the Odyssey (though not as much as the Iliad). I enjoy reading about Odysseus visiting all those foreign places.

Now all you need to read is the Aeneid and you'll have done the trifecta -- it's definitely worth to find out what happened to the Trojans.

Oh, and for a feminist look at the Greek world, you might also try Simone Weil's essay on The Iliad. Happy reading!

Stephanie said...

I've wanted to read this one for a very long time. I love the stories of Greek and Roman Mythology. I just need to find a good translation!

Glad you liked this one!

Rhinoa said...

Chris - I know. I am looking forward to reading Margaret Atwoods version.

Literary Feline - You should if only to complete the series. They are quite different and definately stand alone.

Mailyn - I know although I did enjoy The Iliad too.

Nymeth - I saw on your blog you are reading this and I am looking forward to reading your take on it. I do plan on reading The Penelopiad as well.

Daphne - Books are always better when you don't feel forced into reading them...

Alyson - I have The Aeneid on my list but I probably won't get around to reading it until next year. I hope to read some Ovid in the meantime. Thanks for the recommendation!

Stephanie - Give the Penguin version a go, I really enjoyed the way it was written. It was very easy to read yet still retained the original feel to it.

Jean Pierre said...

glad to hear you enjoyed this and very impressed you actually finished it!

i studies bits of "the iliad" when i did classics and really enjoyed it. i've always meant to read the odyssey.