2. Homer – The Odyssey

Original language: Greek.

I read the Robert Fitzgerald translation.

I really enjoyed the Fitzgerald translation. So fluid, and idiomatic English without talking down to the reader. I enjoyed Lattimore’s Iliad but this is a different level. I should look at reading more Fitzgerald translations in the future.

I love the story about how Helen went near the Trojan Horse while the Greek soldiers were in it, and imitated the voices of their wives. Helen is my kind of woman.

I also like when Helen says of the Greeks fighting the Trojan War that they were “daring all for the wanton I was.” (4.156). It’s kind of a humblebrag, a reminder to those present that she was so beautiful she could do what she wanted, and armies would fight over her. There’s kind of a wink in her eye when she says that. Helen isn’t just beautiful, she’s strong-willed. Her character fascinates me.

“I saw him weeping, weeping on an island.” – Proteus, of Odysseus (4.592)

Reading the end of the Odyssey. I loved the scene where Odysseus, Telemakhos and their two servants kill all the suitors. This book is fucking wonderful. It’s a page turner. Homer is in total control of his material. I cried when Penelope said “If really he is Odysseus, .. beyond all doubt we two shall know each other better than you [Telemakhos] or anyone. There are secret signs we know, we two.”

When I finished I wanted to make a sacrifice to Athena.

“When we take up the Odyssey after the Iliad we step into a different world. Even its sound is different. That of the Iliad is clangorous with the clash of arms; that of the Odyssey, murmurous or thunderous with the myriad-mooded sea.” – Clifton Fadiman, in The New Lifetime Reading Plan


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