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Homer's Daughter

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  570 ratings  ·  58 reviews
Graves has recreated another strong and convincing historical setting; this time the scene of the Odyssey, which he believes occurred in Western Sicily. Graves believes also that the author of the Odyssey was not the blind and bearded Homer of legend, but the young woman who calls herself Nausica in the story.
Paperback, 283 pages
Published August 30th 2005 by Academy Chicago Publishers (first published 1955)
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Average rating 3.82  · 
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 ·  570 ratings  ·  58 reviews


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Sarah (Presto agitato)
Robert Graves, best known for I, Claudius, uses Samuel Butler’s theory that The Odyssey was actually written by a Sicilian woman as the inspiration for the novel Homer’s Daughter. Nausicaa, daughter of an Elyman king, faces a host of unwelcome suitors while the king is away and has to devise a means of getting rid of them. Luckily, she is quick-witted and resourceful in facing her conundrum. She also has a knack for poetry and has a bard in her debt who happens to be a Son of Homer. With these ...more
Marquise
This is an excellent novel that elaborates on the hypothesis that the reason The Iliad and The Odyssey diverge in style and present inconsistencies is due to the latter not being the work of Homer but of a Sicilian princess, Nausicaa, who is the true author of the tale by virtue of composing it and sending her father's court bard to popularise it all throughout the Hellenic world.

The premise of the two major works of Western epic poetry having two different authors, one of them an anonymous
...more
Thomas Rau
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
I enjoyed that very much. Graves tells the story of how the Odyssey that we have come to know came into being: Nausicaa, a Sicilian princess, wrote it, inspired by real events surrounding her family and their little kingdom. Part of the fun is in comparing the real (our) Odyssey with the fictitious story (hers) - and in that Graves thought it quite probable that this is how the Odyssey actually came to be written, which would make the fictitious story the real one. - The language is quite ...more
Tomas
Dec 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"Only let Eurymachus ask for another bath!" she cried. "I'll take net and axe and butcher him, as Clytaemnestra butchered Agamemnon. My heart growls in my breast like a bitch with puppies when a stranger approaches."
Louisa
Mar 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, mythology
In Homer's Daughter, Robert Graves takes up Samuel Butler's argument that it wasn't blind old Homer who wrote The Odyssey, but a young woman from Sicily. Her name was Nausicaa, says Graves, and she wrote the epic poem in the tradition of the singing poets called Homer's Sons, based on her own life experiences. Nausicaa, the princess who does the washing in The Odyssey, who saves Odysseus when he is shipwrecked on the island where she lives, who gives him some of the laundry to wear and helps him ...more
Debi
Dec 06, 2010 rated it liked it
I had a hard time getting into this book. The first half is tiresome and I almost gave up on it but then in the second half the plot picks up and the writing improves. In the end I would say that I do recommend this book, though with a warning about its slow start.
Lisa
Dec 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
If you're a fan of The Odyssey (I am!) and not opposed to non-traditional interpretations of the classics (yes!), then you will like this book. I sure did.
Shannon
Jul 26, 2019 rated it did not like it
I was so excited when I learned about this book, but I ended up just as bored and confused as I was by The King Must Die. They both are too slow and uninteresting to make me want to keep reading. I seem to be really failing with books written in the mid-twentieth century lately (between Robert Graves and Mary Renault), but Anya Seton is one of my favorite authors of all time, so it's not like I'm prejudiced against older historical fiction. It's not the era in which it was written, it's just a ...more
marianne
Sep 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: bookclub
There is a theory out there that the Odyssey wasn’t written by Homer, but by the princess Nausicaa who is featured in the epic poem (whatever her real name may have been). Homer's Daughter is Robert Graves’ riff on exactly that. In this novel, Nausicaa, an Elyman princess living in a Greek settlement in Sicily, is the central character and narrator. She comes to consider herself as Homer’s literary daughter and pens the Odyssey based on some turbulent events that disrupt her idyllic Sicilian ...more
Phoebe
Feb 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommended to Phoebe by: Margaret
Graves wrote this book in 1955 after reading, and becoming convinced by, Samuel Butler's persuasive viewpoint that a woman was the author of the Odyssey, a woman who lived in 750 B.C. Sicily. According to Butler, Sicily was the actual setting for the Odyssey, which was written nearly 150 years after Homer wrote the Iliad, and it is considered a tale of women for women (as opposed to the Iliad, a "tale of men for men"). Graves breathes life into Princess Nausicaa, Butler's authoress, daughter of ...more
Erik Graff
Mar 14, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Erik by: Einar Graff Jr.
Shelves: literature
Once when asking Dad for a book suggestion, he told me that he had spent a good deal of the War on shipboard reading and that he had particularly liked Robert Graves' historical novels. Having already read the epics in school, I chose Homer's Daughter.

Graves was eccentric. A translator of a popular edition of the Iliad himself, he was definitely on top of the classics and very well read in ancient history. Whatever his considered judgment, however, he preferred to publish outrageously
...more
Dimitri
Dec 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Robert Graves claims that he was inspired to write this books when he was convinced by the thesis that the Odyssey was written by a woman around the 6th century BC.
The book is not really an attempt to prove this thesis, but a fictional adventure about the female authoress of the epic.
Nausicaa is a Greek princess on a Sicilian colony. When her father and older brother depart on sea trips, her house is threatened by a conspiracy. Nausicaa finds herself in pretty much the same situation Penelope
...more
Montse de Paz
Feb 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I rated it five stars because this is one of these few novels I have read more than once and probably will read again in the future.

Graves is unique as story-teller. In this novel he gives his voice to Nausicaa, a young, smart princess of Sicily who dreams about writing an epic poem while facing a conspiracy againts her royal family. Graves wrote this delicious homeric novel inspired in Butler's theory about the Odissey. According Butler, the author of this epic was a woman, and he gives some
...more
SR
Oh this was lovely. Graves's form of meta-classics fanfic feels a bit more rigorous than, say, Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin, and I feel even more of a compulsion to go through Homer than I did with Virgil after finishing Lavinia.

Nausicaa is a wonderful narrator, and the anthropological details about life in the Greek empire were excellent.
Xole
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Robert Graves excels at historical fiction, and this book does not disappoint. I was put off at first by the introduction, in which the author explains his reasons for writing this by saying that "The Iliad is a poem about and for men, the Odyssey (despite its male hero) is a poem about and for women." I don't at all share that view, but thankfully the story that follows is a very good one, especially because I've recently read an Odyssey and it was fresh in my mind. Reader, I loved this.
Annie T
Nov 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
I am woefully unacquainted with the Odyssey and the Iliad, so many of the references and analogies were above my head, but I suspect they would be considered brilliant for those familiar with the ancient texts. The story included so many characters with long, often similar Greek names I often had trouble following who was who, but it didn't matter. Homer's Daughter was an exciting and very enjoyable adventure.
Camille Cusumano
Nov 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
Graves (I Claudius) makes a cogent case for the Odyssey having been written, not by Homer, but by a Sicilian woman living in Erice, 150 years after the Illiad was written. I don't know why there isn't more academic debate on this. There is at least one other scholar who agrees with this. See Graves's foreword.
Judyta Szaciłło
I was hoping for so much more from this book! A distinguished writer, an amazing plot, placed in a well-pictured historical reality... and yet the book is barely enjoyable. The writing is dry, the dialogues artificial. Who talks about types of cheese they've been served when referring a tremendously urgent matter of life and death in a hurry?
Mika
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Epic.
Adriaan Krabbendam
Dec 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
What if Homer appeared to be a woman writer? Very good read.
Hypatia
Apr 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library, historical
This was interesting. I think the story and the attitudes are definitely a product of the times, and they did seem dated in places. Still, it was a quick and easy read, and I enjoyed the story.
Paul Downs
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Unsettling.
Mayble
Mar 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Reads like it's supposed to -- of the ancient classics genre. Of course, that also makes it snobby as hell and the characters rather unlikable by modern standards. But I like classics anyway :p
Filitsa
Apr 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Liked it a lot, but not as much as Claudius. I must reread it.
Jan Priddy
I am glad two have read this, and I remain a Graves fan. However, I did not quite believe this. Nausicaa says that The Iliad was by a man for men and her book is by a woman for women—unfortunately, this reads like a book by a man about a woman.

I should note that while I love the cover on this edition, it has many, many typos. The most obvious is random paragraph breaks in the middle of sentences. No one reviewed a proof copy, and Graves deserves better.
Sasha
Nov 25, 2013 rated it liked it
This time around Graves was not so interested in story itself - although there is a very exciting story to tell - as to theory how all those memories and oral traditions probably became interwoven into what we know today as "Odyssey". The novel is set in ancient kingdom on Sicily where princess Nausicaa has to somehow maneuver group of young rascals who in absence of her father plan to swiftly take over the rule and her hand - remember Penelope and her suitors? - along the way she connects ...more
Stephanie Ricker
Dec 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
I was fascinated by the miniseries I, Claudius based upon Robert Graves' book, and when I realized this book was in my husband's collection, I snatched it, expecting to be likewise fascinated. I was intrigued by the premise, based on Samuel Butler's theory: what if Homer's Odyssey was in fact written by a young woman? I was surprised by how dull and lifeless the execution was. The writing style was so colorless I was half-tempted to see if this was the same Robert Graves or if someone had swiped ...more
Nicole
Oct 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
The style is in keeping with the setting. The flow is very different from a modern novel and more like reading a translation of an ancient epic (except not in verse), which I assume was the goal. Overall I enjoyed it. I would have liked to have had the argument for a female author presented though - perhaps in short section at the end. Now I must go find his sources. Which I probably would have done anyway. I suspect Butler may be hard to locate these days though.
Dearbhla
Dec 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book/story/author isn't clever as it thinks it is. Or the intended audience is incredibly niche, possibly just the author in fact. The performance of the reader for my Bolinda/Borrowby audio book version was quite poor. Clear enunciation but little or no character differentiation. Just about tolerable overall.
Abby
Aug 10, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: classicists, archaeologists, and people who say "Really? I always wanted to be an archaeologist!"
It's an interesting book from a classicist/ fiction writer, but the writing is a bit dry. I enjoyed it, but I'm fascinated with the ancient Mediterranean world to a degree that most other people are not, so I'm not sure that I'd recommend it to many of my friends.
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Robert von Ranke Graves, born in Wimbledon, received his early education at King's College School and Copthorne Prep School, Wimbledon & Charterhouse School and won a scholarship to St John's College, Oxford. While at Charterhouse in 1912, he fell in love with G. H. Johnstone, a boy of fourteen ("Dick" in Goodbye to All That) When challenged by the headmaster he defended himself by citing ...more
“The Odyssey, though invariably ascribed to Homer, was composed at least a hundred and fifty years later than the Iliad and the atmosphere is altogether different: sweeter, more humorous, more civilized. The Iliad is a poem about and for men, the Odyssey (despite its male hero) is a poem about and for women.” 0 likes
“Apollodorus, the leading classical authority on Greek myths, records a tradition that the real scene of the poem was the Sicilian seaboard, and in 1896 Samuel Butler, the author of Erewhon, came independently to the same conclusion. He suggested that the poem, as we now have it, was composed at Drepanum, the modern Trapani, in Western Sicily, and that the authoress was the girl self-portrayed as Nausicaa. None of his classical contemporaries, for whom Homer was necessarily both blind and bearded, deigned to pay Butler’s theory the least attention; and since he had, as we now know, dated the poem some three hundred years too early and not explained how a Sicilian princess could have passed off her saga as Homer’s, his two books on the subject are generally dismissed as a good-humoured joke. Nevertheless, while working on an explanatory dictionary of Greek myths, I found Butler’s arguments for a Western Sicilian setting and for a female authorship irrefutable. I could not rest until I had written this novel. It re-creates, from internal and external evidence, the circumstances which induced Nausicaa to write the Odyssey, and suggest how, as an honorary Daughter of Homer, she managed to get it included in the official canon. Here is the story of a high-spirited and religious-minded Sicilian girl who saves her father’s throne from usurpation, herself from a distasteful marriage, and her two younger brothers from butchery by boldly making things happen, instead of sitting still and hoping for the best.” 0 likes
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