"Tell us, Goddess, daughter of Zeus, start in your own place:
when all the rest at Troy had fled from that steep doom
and gone back home, away from war and the salt sea,
only this man longed for his wife and a way home."
Homer's Odyssey, at once an exciting epic of strife and subterfuge and a deeply felt tale of love and devotion, stands at the very beginning of the Western literary tradition. From ancient Greece to the present day its influence on later literature has been unsurpassed, and for centuries translators have approached the meter, tone, and pace of Homer's poetry with a variety of strategies. Chapman and Pope paid keen attention to color, drama, and vivacity of style, rendering the Greek verse loosely and inventively. In the twentieth century, translators such as Lattimore kept rigorously close to the sense of each word in the original; others, including Fitzgerald and Fagles, have departed further from the language of the original, employing their own inventive modern style.
Poet and translator Edward McCrorie now opens new territory in this striking rendition, which captures the spare, powerful tone of Homer's epic while engaging contemporary readers with its brisk pace, idiomatic language, and lively characterization. McCrorie closely reproduces the Greek metrical patterns and employs a diction and syntax that reflects the plain, at times stark, quality of Homer's lines, rather than later English poetic styles. Avoiding both the stiffness of word-for-word literalism and the exaggeration and distortion of free adaptation, this translation dramatically evokes the ancient sound and sense of the poem. McCrorie's is truly an Odyssey for the twenty-first century.
To accompany this innovative translation, noted classical scholar Richard Martin has written an accessible and wide-ranging introduction explaining the historical and literary context of the Odyssey, its theological and cultural underpinnings, Homer's poetic strategies and narrative techniques, and his cast of characters. In addition, Martin provides detailed notesfar more extensive than those in other editionsaddressing key themes and concepts; the histories of persons, gods, events, and myths; literary motifs and devices; and plot development. Also included is a pronunciation glossary and character index.
About the Author
Edward McCrorie is a poet and translator whose works include several collections of poems and an acclaimed translation of Virgil's Aeneid. He is also a professor of English at Providence College. Richard P. Martin is the Antony and Isabelle Raubitschek Professor of Classics at Stanford University and the author of several books, including The Language of Heroes: Speech and Performance in the Iliad and Myths of the Ancient Greeks.
Read an Excerpt
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.’
Excerpted from "The Odyssey"
Copyright © 2010 E. V. Homer.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
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Table of Contents
Introduction, by Richard P. Martin
1. Trouble at Home
2. A Gathering and a Parting
3. In the Great Hall of Nestor
4. With Menelaos and Helen
5. A Raft on the High Seas
6. Laundry Friends
7. The Warmest Welcome
8. Songs, Challenges, Dances, and Gifts
9. A Battle, the Lotos, and a Savage's Cave
10. Mad Winds, Laistrugonians, and an Enchantress
11. The Land of the Dead
12. Evil Song, a Deadly Strait, and Forbidden Herds
13. A Strange Arrival Home
14. The House of the Swineherd
15. Son and Father Converging
16. Father and Son Reunite
17. Unknown in His Own House
18. Fights in the Great Hall
19. Memory and Dream in the Palace
20. Dawn of the Death-Day
21. The Stringing of the Bow
22. Revenge in the Great Hall
23. Husband and Wife at Last
24. Last Tensions and Peace
Notes, by Richard P. Martin
Names in the Odyssey
Bibliography, by Richard P. Martin
What People are Saying About This
"This is a fine, fast-moving version of the liveliest epic of classical antiquity. With a bracing economy, accuracy, and poetic control, Edward McCrorie conveys the freshness and challenge of the original in clear, sensitive, and direct language. Instead of the uncertain solemnity of some previous translations or the free re-creation of others, McCrorie has managed a version that will have immediate appeal to this generation of students and general readers alike."
"Edward McCrorie's translation of the Odyssey answers the demands of movement and accuracy in a rendition of the poem. His verse line is brisk and efficient, often captures the rhythm and the sound of the Greek, and functions well as an English equivalent of the Greek hexameter. Unlike most translators, he wishes to preserve at least some of the sound of the Greek, and his rendition of the formula glaukôpis Athene as glow-eyed Athene is inspired. He remains true to the formulae of Homeric verse, and several of his choicessuch as rose-fingered daylight or words had a feathery swiftnessdelight. Homer, Zeus-like, would have nodded his approval."