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February Books 23) The Odyssey, by Homer

This is the translation of The Odyssey by T.E. Lawrence. The narrative is, of course, very dense, as you would expect from transposing epic poetry into prose, and I rather felt that I should read it again some time over a period of weeks, taking one of the 24 chapters each day in several translations. The central narrative has more of Odysseus' son Telemachus than I had realised - he goes off on an initial quest for his father and then is instrumental in engineering his return to Ithaca. I was also startled by the brutal violence with which Odysseus and Telemachus dispose of Penelope's suitors and the maidservants. Most of the stories I already knew from other reading, but it was interesting to get a sense of the original.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 21st, 2009 03:30 pm (UTC)
The sheer violence of Homer is a bit shocking when compared with the "Tales from ..." versions. The Iliad is even more violent with rather graphic descriptions of spears impacting flesh and bone at regular intervals.
Feb. 21st, 2009 04:44 pm (UTC)
The Odyssey and the Iliad are so rich in feeling and action, and the Odyssey in particular surprisingly modern in its presentation; real favourites of mine.

It might interest you to know that attempts have been made to date the events in the Odyssey by analysing astronomical events in the narrative, culminating in this paper (pdf link):
Feb. 21st, 2009 08:57 pm (UTC)
apparently people often wonder what the deal with the maidservants was, but everyone is down with the suitors being knocked off. That said, the suitors work better as comic characters - it would be better if Odysseus, by now an old man, just kicks their foppish arses out of his house.

Is the story of Odysseus' loyal dog in the actual Odyssey?
Feb. 22nd, 2009 04:48 pm (UTC)
Yep, the dog story is there (and Lawrence in his introduction takes this as evidence that Homer was a bigger fan of dogs than of women, but I think he just may be projecting).
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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