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The Odyssey

Cover of The Odyssey

The Odyssey

by Homer

Greek poet Homer established the standard for tales of epic quests and heroic journeys with the Odyssey. Crowded with characters, both human and nonhuman, and bursting with action, the Odyssey details the adventures of Odysseus, king of Ithaca and hero of the Trojan War, as he struggles to return to his home and his waiting, ever-faithful wife, Penelope.

Along the way Odysseus encounters the seductive Circe, who changes men into swine; the gorgeous water-nymph Calypso, who keeps him a "prisoner of love" for seven years; the terrible, one-eyed, man-eating giant Cyclops; and a host of other ogres, wizards, sirens, and gods. But when he finally reaches Ithaca after ten years of travel, his trials have only begun. There he must battle the scheming noblemen who, thinking him dead, have demanded that Penelope choose one of them to be her new husband---and Ithaca’s new king.

Often called the "second work of Western literature" (the Iliad, also by Homer, being the first), the Odyssey is not only a rousing adventure drama but also a profound meditation on courage, loyalty, family, fate, and undying love. More than 3,000 years old, it was the first story to delineate carefully and exhaustively a single character arc---a narrative structure that serves as the foundation and heart of the modern novel.

Greek poet Homer established the standard for tales of epic quests and heroic journeys with the Odyssey. Crowded with characters, both human and nonhuman, and bursting with action, the Odyssey details the adventures of Odysseus, king of Ithaca and hero of the Trojan War, as he struggles to return to his home and his waiting, ever-faithful wife, Penelope.

Along the way Odysseus encounters the seductive Circe, who changes men into swine; the gorgeous water-nymph Calypso, who keeps him a "prisoner of love" for seven years; the terrible, one-eyed, man-eating giant Cyclops; and a host of other ogres, wizards, sirens, and gods. But when he finally reaches Ithaca after ten years of travel, his trials have only begun. There he must battle the scheming noblemen who, thinking him dead, have demanded that Penelope choose one of them to be her new husband---and Ithaca’s new king.

Often called the "second work of Western literature" (the Iliad, also by Homer, being the first), the Odyssey is not only a rousing adventure drama but also a profound meditation on courage, loyalty, family, fate, and undying love. More than 3,000 years old, it was the first story to delineate carefully and exhaustively a single character arc---a narrative structure that serves as the foundation and heart of the modern novel.

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  • Publisher's Weekly

    October 27, 2014
    British actor Stevens of Downton Abbey fame brings Homer’s epic poem to life with this well-executed reading of the classic tale of the Greek hero Odysseus and his 10-year journey home. When Odysseus is presumed dead after the Trojan War, his wife, Penelope, is awash with suitors looking to court her and in turn take over the land. While Penelope stalls the persistent suitors, her husband is cursed to wander the seas encountering all manner of mythical beings and even the gods, who all play their part in helping, or mostly hindering, the hero in his quest to find home. Stevens, with a cool, unmannered delivery, brings a modern vocal interpretation to his performance, making this ancient poem engaging to the modern ear and easy to listen to. With his relaxed reading, Stevens proves that this classic poem is definitely not some dry, dusty work of ancient history, but a vibrant exciting story that, like the best tales of adventure, works best when read aloud, as scholars contend it was intended. A Farrar, Straus and Giroux paperback.

  • AudioFile Magazine Every library should own this wonderful translation of THE ODYSSEY. The introduction provides an overview of Greek verse and explains its rhythmic scheme. Rodney Merrill then launches into a performance that is as close as most listeners can get to hearing the poem in the original. Merrill's cadence is wonderful; he has a visceral understanding of how these lines are shaped for the ear, and he delivers them faithfully, with enthusiasm and love. He shifts tones occasionally to differentiate individual speakers but, for the most part, allows Homer's dominant voice to carry listeners on this mythic journey. G.T.B. (c) AudioFile 2003, Portland, Maine
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