The Odyssey, Homer
FRIDAY FAVE~GREEK MYTHS EDITION
In Lockdown #325 last year Sophie posted on FB asking for a book recommendation. I suggested all time fave Song of Achilles, now with millions of fans from teens to adults. We immediately bonded after she fell in love with it (though not a fan of classics) & this page was born.
The genre is exploding in popularity, there is something for every reader from fantasy, historical fiction, young adult & romance.
I’ve been fascinated by mythology forever, my exams meant memorising books 2 & 10 of the Odyssey. Historically, translations of great classical works are completely male dominated, patriarchal systems never educate women, so we read these stories through a male, usually misogynistic gaze. That all changed in 2017 with the first ever female translation hailed as a cultural landmark & significant literary moment.
But is it any good? It’s better. Better than the heaps of praise globally. Emily is a Professor of Classical Studies & a phenomenal writer. Matching the number of lines in the Greek original, striding at Homer’s sprightly pace, we begin right at the end of the Trojan war following Odysseus on his journey home after years in battle.
Don’t be intimidated by the academic feel of the introduction. The translation is easily readable, propulsive, clear and gripping. You do not need an English/Classics/History Phd as the language is contemporary and to the point yet evocative, lyrical and vivid to honour and pay tribute to the original.
The Odyssey is an epic tale of wealth, poverty and power; of marriage, family and identity; and the changing meanings of home in a strange world. Unlike the Iliad (the preceding story of the Trojan war) women play important roles with Penelope, my girl Circe, Calypso, and the goddess Athena key figures.
I bought my copy second hand and I love the annotations of the uni student next to the text. I love that Emily Wilson is taking the elitism out of the classics, ensuring that any reader can enjoy and understand this seminal work. I love her nuanced wit that shines throughout. I am so grateful to her for bringing a story I enjoyed as a teen alive through a female voice at last.