Fantasy Eliot, Charles W. (editor): Harvard Classics 22: Homer's Odyssey, v.1, 05 Jan 07
#1  RWood 04-30-2007, 09:49 PM
OK Culture Vultures, here it is -- Homer's Odyssey. You know it, you love it, you can't live without it.

Sure you read the Classics Illustrated version when you were a kid and then there was the mandatory section or two your teacher made you read in high school. Now available for you to own and read for your own enjoyment, Homer's Odyssey.
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#2  Bob Russell 04-30-2007, 10:19 PM
This was a big part of one class almost flunked in high school before I developed some decent study habits! I dreaded the book, and didn't read it. Then I tried to read the Cliff Notes when the midterm came, but it was too late to understand or remember anything. I still feel miserable when I remember how depressed I was about that class!

What a change in one's perspective the passing decades can bring. I would really enjoy reading and hopefully understanding it now. Maybe I can even start making literary references like to things like the Siren Call (or was the in the Illiad?!) But just to be safe, I think I'll find a guide to the book to help me understand it in a less painful manner than "brute force" reading. I'd hate to be traumatized again!

#3  RWood 04-30-2007, 10:59 PM
The most popular cheat books today are by Barnes & Noble. They have the latest version of Spark Notes for the Odyssey available free online.

#4  Robert Marquard 05-01-2007, 01:36 AM
Why do i think of Homer Simpson? :-)

#5  Bob Russell 05-01-2007, 07:37 AM
Homer's Odyssey -- I think the Simpson's should use that for an episode title.

Thanks, Wood, for the SparksNotes pointer. That should work great.

#6  RWood 05-01-2007, 12:33 PM
Quote Robert Marquard
Why do i think of Homer Simpson? :-)
They say great books reveal more about the reader than the author.

#7  HarryT 05-01-2007, 01:18 PM
The Odyssey is, IMHO, one of the greatest works of literature ever written. All joking aside, it's a book which everyone owes it to themselves to read.

#8  Bob Russell 05-01-2007, 02:19 PM
Quote HarryT
The Odyssey is, IMHO, one of the greatest works of literature ever written. All joking aside, it's a book which everyone owes it to themselves to read.
I want to ask a question, but I know there is the risk that it will sound really stupid. But as anyone familiar with MR knows, I've never let that stop me before, so here goes...

Can you elaborate on how you consider it to be great? I mean, is it because of the cultural relevance, even today? Is it a great and amazing mythology? Is it the imaginative way he intertwines fantastic settings and stories with the basic elements of the human condition and human history? Is it a masterpiece of complicated literature that is amazing because you can hardly believe a person could construct such a giant work of writing? Is it just plain fun to read because it's so well-written that the words hit your ears like honey on the lips? I know that sounds like a silly question, but I'm serious!

#9  RWood 05-01-2007, 02:51 PM
I can only answer for myself.

The Odyssey does have all of the supernatural elements that one would imagine present in a great Greek mythological work. But more important it pits a man against forces he cannot control who must rely on his cunning and skill more than his brawn to overcome these elements and achieve his goal.

Along the way we find a wonderful love story about a faithful wife who waits many years for her husband to return, a son willing to risk death for his Father, suitors to the wife who wonÂ’t leave and try to eat all of their cattle, stories of revenge, and of treachery. The decent into Hades even inspired part of the Devine Comedy.

Yes, it is a wonderful tale of great storytelling.

#10  HarryT 05-01-2007, 03:26 PM
Two main reasons why I consider it to be "great":

Firstly, it's just a plain good story. The way that Homer paints pictures with words is just magical. This sometimes doesn't come across very well in translation - I'm fortunate enough to be able to read Homer in the original Greek, and the sound and the rhythms of the original hexameter verse are just amazing.

Secondly, and for me, most importantly, Homer is quite literally one of the "cornerstones" of western civilization. The ancient Greeks regarded Homer as the "source of all wisdom" - much like many people today regard the Bible - and, whenever anyone in the Greek world wanted advice or guidance on some moral or ethical issue, they'd turn to Homer for inspiration. In the ancient world there were professional poets, called "rhapsodes", whose JOB it was to go around to towns and villages, and recite Homer - these people knew the "Iliad" and the "Odyssey" off by heart (some 25,000 lines of poetry!) and were regarded as extremely highly revered members of society.

Sorry - I'm lecturing. Ancient history is my "thing" and Homer is just for me, such a "cornerstone" of the whole origin of Western civilisation that I sometimes forget that most people probably don't share my love of his works.

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