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The Odyssey Paperback – Deckle Edge, November 1, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0140268867 ISBN-10: 0140268863 Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics Deluxe
  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (November 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140268863
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140268867
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.5 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (337 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,006 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

ROBERT FAGLES was winner of the 1996 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

I

Athene Visits Telemachus

Tell me, Muse, the story of that resourceful man who was driven to wander far and wide after he had sacked the holy citadel of Troy. He saw the cities of many people and he learnt their ways. He suffered great anguish on the high seas in his struggles to preserve his life and bring his comrades home. But he failed to save those comrades, in spite of all his efforts. It was their own transgression that brought them to their doom, for in their folly they devoured the oxen of Hyperion the Sun-god and he saw to it that they would never return. Tell us this story, goddess daughter of Zeus, beginning at whatever point you will.

All the survivors of the war had reached their homes by now and so put the perils of battle and the sea behind them. Odysseus alone was prevented from returning to the home and wife he yearned for by that powerful goddess, the Nymph Calypso, who longed for him to marry her, and kept him in her vaulted cave. Not even when the rolling seasons brought in the year which the gods had chosen for his homecoming to Ithaca was he clear of his troubles and safe among his friends. Yet all the gods pitied him, except Poseidon, who pursued the heroic Odysseus with relentless malice till the day when he reached his own country.

Poseidon, however, was now gone on a visit to the distant Ethiopians, in the most remote part of the world, half of whom live where the Sun goes down, and half where he rises. He had gone to accept a sacrifice of bulls and rams, and there he sat and enjoyed the pleasures of the feast. Meanwhile the rest of the gods had assembled in the palace of Olympian Zeus, and the Father of men and gods opened a discussion among them. He had been thinking of the handsome Aegisthus, whom Agamemnon’s far-famed son Orestes killed; and it was with Aegisthus in his mind that Zeus now addressed the immortals:

‘What a lamentable thing it is that men should blame the gods and regard us as the source of their troubles, when it is their own transgressions which bring them suffering that was not their destiny. Consider Aegisthus: it was not his destiny to steal Agamemnon’s wife and murder her husband when he came home. He knew the result would be utter disaster, since we ourselves had sent Hermes, the keen-eyed Giant-slayer, to warn him neither to kill the man nor to court his wife. For Orestes, as Hermes told him, was bound to avenge Agamemnon as soon as he grew up and thought with longing of his home. Yet with all his friendly counsel Hermes failed to dissuade him. And now Aegisthus has paid the final price for all his sins.’

Customer Reviews

This is a great book, and as a Kindle owner, I was happy to see it available.
Spencer M.
Of course you miss things every time you read a book; but re-reading the Odyssey is something that I highly recommend to anyone who has read the book.
Wendy S
Robert Fagles's translation of Homer's Odyssey is highly readable and fast-paced.
James G. Bruen Jr.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

217 of 228 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
Fagle's translation of THE ODYSSEY in the Penguin edition is an almost perfect act of publishing. The translation itself manages to be enormously readable, highly poetic, and extremely accurate, all at the same time. The Introduction by Bernard Knox should serve as a model for all scholars who are called upon to write critical introductions for classic works of literature. And the book design is is extraordinary; this edition of Homer's classic is easily one of the most attractive paperback books in my library. I had read this once before in translation (in the old Rieu version), and then later translated much of it in a second year Greek class. But in neither instance did I enjoy it as much as reading the Fagles's translation.
Aristotle did not think that people should study philosophy too early in life, and perhaps that is also true of reading Homer. Part of me feels that we make a mistake in our education systems by making students read THE ODYSSEY before they are in a position to appreciate it. If one looks through the reviews here, a very large number of very negative reviews by a lot of high school students can be found. I find this unfortunate. In part I regret that we are forcing younger readers to read this book before they have fully matured as readers. Perhaps the book and the students themselves would be better served if we allowed them time to grow a bit more as readers before asking them to tackle Homer.
THE ODYSSEY is so enormously enjoyable (at least for this adult reader) that it is easy to forget just how very old it is. What impresses me is how readable it is, despite its age. There are very, very few widely read works older than THE ILIAD and THE ODYSSEY. And the gap between how entertaining these works are and those that come before them is gigantic.
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91 of 94 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 26, 2005
Format: Audio CD
As most know, Homer's Odyssey is the story of the adventures of Odysseus as he makes his way home, to the Greek island of Ithaca, after the war in Troy. Those who groaned when it was assigned in high school or college will do an abrupt about face when they hear Robert Fagles's brilliant translation read by acclaimed actor Sir Ian McKellan. Those becoming familiar with the Odyssey for the first time through this audio are fortunate as it is a superb introduction.

Surely McKellan's compelling, resonant reading deserves an award. On a printed page the following words are static, inanimate. In McKellan's voice they ring, seducing listeners as they hear the story of Odysseus.

"Sing to me of the man, Muse, the

man of twists and turns

Driven time and again off course..."

A Professor of Comparative Literature Emeritus at Princeton, Robert Fagles won accolades for this translation of The Iliad - rightly so. He deserves the same and more for his translation of The Odyssey as he loses none of the original yet contemporizes Homer's masterpiece. Many today will easily identify with Odysseus, an iconic survivor.

In The New Yorker Garry Wills wrote: "Robert Fagles is the best living translator of ancient Greek drama, lyric poetry, and epic into modern English, and his translation of the Odyssey is his finest work so far."

What more can one say except enjoy?

Very highly recommended.

- Gail Cooke
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193 of 207 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 7, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Since you ask me, you word-hungry Amazonians,
How I came solate in life to the end of a tale
That schoolchildren read in comicbooks,
A tale that is one of the sturdy legs
Of the table on which our culture rests
Since you ask, I will tell you, and gladly, too.
My journey started, though you grin in disbelief,
In ninth-grade Latin class, where "Ulysses"
Duped the cyclops by calling himself "Nemo."
Then a deep sleep fell over me,
And I knew no more Homer, not in Greek or Latin
Or English or even the strange tongue
Of the network miniseries, while Sun
Drove his blazing chariot round Earth
One hundred hundred times.
In this sleep I wandered the world of letters,
Homerless but unable to avoid the homeric:
Achilles' heel, the Sirens' song,
Calypso, the Trojan Horse, and swinemaking Circe--
Crouched like Scylla, aswirl like Charybdis,
Threatening cultural death to epic ignorance.
At last I found my literary Tiresias,
The New York Times Book Review.
I shook from this seer the name Fagles,
And so guided, I made my way home at last,
Through a translation that rings of a heroic time,
A time when men were stronger and grander than we,
When women were more beautiful,
And when, granted, sexual equality wanted
A few millennia's labor;
But even so, a rendering as modern
As anything DeLillo, new god of the underworld,
Or the infinitely jesting Wallace
Can lay before us.
The best, in fine, of both worlds, an epic worthy
Of the blind bard and of his heroes, his heroines,
And the deathless denizens of Olympus.
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53 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Frank Bierbrauer on June 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
As noted on earlier reviews these two, the first "The Iliad", and now "The Odyssey" have become the translations read for pure enjoyment. No longer does one `know' of the classics but never read them, now we read them too. Thankfully, Robert Fagles has produced a translation worthy of the original sense of Homer's great poem. It captures well the suffering and tragedy Odysseus went through in his journey full of trials and tribulations from the great ogre, the Cyclops, to the beautiful Calypso and finally one of his greatest tests, the suitors seeking his wife's approval after 20 years absence from his homeland.
As usual the introduction by Bernard Knox (NB my earlier mistake in the review on The Iliad) is highly informative and shows real depth of understanding of Homeric poetry, an invaluable aid in the full comprehension of the poem. In addition the extra maps of the Homeric word as well as a glossary of terms and a section detailing some of the characters in more depth provide an excellent background which may be missing in a non-classical education. Certainly this is the transaltion to use when teaching of classic poetry in schools since the child is captivated by the flow of the story and the fast pace which keeps one glued to the book, although not as pacy as The Iliad it is a different sort of story. Unlike the Iliad which is replete with battles and war, The Odyssey is the story of a journey and is of a different tune. I once tried to read an earlier translation of The Odyssey a few years ago and found it stuffy and staid, this is no longer true of Fagles work, were it only the case of other great classics.
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