Andrew's Reviews > The Odyssey

The Odyssey by Homer
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's review
Jan 29, 08

Read in January, 2008

I don't think I had ever read this until my lovely wife got me this superb edition for Christmas. The translation was vivid and engaging. Though I can't compare it to others, I was quite impressed. Fagles struck a nice balance between adapting to modern language and preserving the oral-poetic cadences. Most striking to me was the great emphasis on hospitality as a virtue. Some passages were downright gospel-echoing, calling on people to give the best seat and the best cut of meat to their guests. I was also intrigued by the relative amount of lines devoted to Odysseus' actual odyssey. The general conception of this story is as a travel narrative of sorts, but really, its a homecoming narrative. The whole last third of the poem Odysseus is already back in Ithaca, and the first few books of the poem are devoted to Telemachus, Odysseus' son. His wanderings only make up about two-fifths of the poem by my rough calculations. And they are always in the context of how much he misses his wife. The last books are tied up in him revealing himself to his swineherder, his son, his mammy, his wife, and his father. It's all very heartwarming and domestic--until Odysseus brutally slaughters his lonely wife's suitors. The domestic nature of the poem is heightened in comparison to the almost completely martial Iliad. Anyway, good, fascinating reading.
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