The Odyssey - Homer. A translation into English prose by A. S. Kline. Published with Illustrations by Theodoor van Thulden courtesy of the The Rijksmuseum.
The Odyssey, the second of the epic texts attributed to Homer, and also a major founding work of European literature, is usually dated to around the 8th century BC. It is an epic poem, effectively a sequel to the Iliad, written in Ancient Greek but assumed to be derived from earlier oral sources, telling the story of Odysseus’ wanderings and his eventual return from the Trojan War to his home island of Ithaca. The cultural background to the poem indicates a Bronze Age setting around 400 to 500 years before the Homeric literary period itself. The poem contains elements of myth and legend as well as sheer literary invention, and covers the ten years of its hero’s adventures from the destruction of Troy to his return to his wife Penelope and son Telemachus. Of particular interest is the role of women in the Bronze Age culture described, represented in a sense by Odysseus’ guardian deity, Athene, the goddess of mind. Odysseus is an archetype of the person of intellect who uses brains and eloquence rather than brawn to outwit opponents and impress peers, and therefore sets the scene for later Greek Classical culture.
This and other texts available from Poetry in Translation (www.poetryintranslation.com).
Robert Fagles's 1990 translation of The Iliad was highly praised; here, he moves to The Odyssey. As in the previous work, he adroitly mixes contemporary language with the driving rhythms of the original. The first line reads: "Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns/ driven time and again off course once he had plundered/ the hallowed heights of Troy." Hellenic scholar Bernard Knox contributes extensive introductory commentary, providing both historical and literary perspective. Notes, a pronouncing glossary, genealogies, a bibliography and maps of Homer's world are included.