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Synopses & Reviews
Most translations of The Odyssey are in the kind of standard verse form believed typical of high-serious composition in the ancient world. Yet some scholars believe the epic was originally composed in a less formal, phrase-by-phrase prosody. Charles Stein employs the latter approach in this dramatic, and in some ways truer, version. Famous episodes such as the sirens, Scylla and Charybdis, and the Cyclops, are rendered with previously unseen energy and empathy. The poem's second half--where Odysseus, returned home to take revenge on his wife's suitors--has extraordinarily subtle, novelistic features that are made more transparent in this version. There is also a special feel for the archaic dimensions of Homer--the world of gods and their complex relations to Fate and Being that other translators tend to deemphasize in order to make the poem feel modern. Most versions exclude or minimize the magical aspects of the poem, but Stein gives these elements full play, so that the spirit of a universe predating the classical era shines through. This vibrant version of The Odyssey shows readers not only what the Greeks thought about their gods but the gods themselves. Summaries preceding each chapter and a list of recommended websites help expand the experience.
The Odyssey is, quite simply, the story of Odysseus, who wants to go home. But Poseidon, god of oceans, doesn't want him to make it back across the wine-dark sea to his wife, Penelope, son, Telemachus, and their high-roofed home at Ithaca. The story is told in easy-going, beautiful poetry; the characters speak naturally, the action happens briskly. Even the gods come across as real people, despite the divine powers they exercise constantly.
Divided into 24 books, the Odyssey charts the return journey of Ulysses from the Trojan War to the island of Ithaca. The gods, from Minerva to Neptune, help and hinder him through adventures with enchantresses, Cyclops, sirens, ghosts and, at his journey's end, the rabble of suitors that plague his wife.
About the Author
Not much is known about Homer, who was considered by the ancient Greeks to be the greatest epic poet for his works, The Iliad and The Odyssey, two poems that have had a lasting influence on Western literature.
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