The Odyssey

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Penguin Books Limited, Jan 30, 2003 - Literary Criticism - 348 pages
1581 Reviews
Homer's The Odyssey is an epic that has endured for thousands of years, and this Penguin Classics edition is translated by E.V. Rieu, revised by D.C.H. Rieu, and contains an introduction by Peter Jones. The epic tale of Odysseus and his ten-year journey home after the Trojan war forms one of the earliest and greatest works of Western literature. Confronted by natural and supernatural threats - from the witch Circe who turns his men into pigs, to the twin terrors of Scylla and Charybdis; from the stupefied Lotus-Eaters to the implacable enmity of the sea-god Poseidon himself - Odysseus must test his bravery and native cunning to the full if he is to reach his homeland safely. But the danger is no less severe in his native Ithaca, as Odysseus finds himself contending with the suitors who, in his absence, have begun to surround his wife Penelope... E.V. Rieu's translation of The Odyssey was the first Penguin Classic to be published, and has itself achieved classic status. For this edition, Rieu's text has been sensitively revised and a new introduction added to complement his original introduction. Seven greek cities claim the honour of being the birthplace of Homer (c. 8th-7th century BC), the poet to whom the composition of the Iliad and Odyssey are attributed. The Iliad is the oldest surviving work of Western literature, but the identity - or even the existence - of Homer himself is a complete mystery, with no reliable biographical information having survived. If you enjoyed The Odyssey, you might like Homer's The Iliad, also available in Penguin Classics. 'One of the world's most vital tales ... The Odyssey remains central to literature'Malcolm Bradbury

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The story itself and poetic writing was enjoyable. - Goodreads
Great story, but sooo hard to read. - Goodreads
The finest introduction to the Odyssey. - Goodreads
You can't get five stars with an ending this bad. - Goodreads
Incredible love story. - Goodreads
Had a great plot and outstanding themes. - Goodreads

Review: The Odyssey

User Review  - Katherine - Goodreads

I had to read this back in high school, and didn't think much of it then. Reread it now that I'm older to see if I'd still feel the same. Verdict is... still don't like it. Lots of stuff happens, so the plot is ever-moving, but I just couldn't really get into it. Read full review

Review: The Odyssey

User Review  - Sarah Hawkins - Goodreads

Reading an epic poem that is around 2700-2800 years old could understandably be difficult and laborious, confusing or frustrating, yet Robert Fagles' translation of Homer's Odyssey (along with his ... Read full review

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About the author (2003)

Homer was probably born around 725BC on the Coast of Asia Minor, now the coast of Turkey, but then really a part of Greece. Homer was the first Greek writer whose work survives.

He was one of a long line of bards, or poets, who worked in the oral tradition. Homer and other bards of the time could recite, or chant, long epic poems. Both works attributed to Homer – the Iliad and the Odyssey – are over ten thousand lines long in the original. Homer must have had an amazing memory but was helped by the formulaic poetry style of the time.

In the Iliad Homer sang of death and glory, of a few days in the struggle between the Greeks and the Trojans. Mortal men played out their fate under the gaze of the gods. The Odyssey is the original collection of tall traveller's tales. Odysseus, on his way home from the Trojan War, encounters all kinds of marvels from one-eyed giants to witches and beautiful temptresses. His adventures are many and memorable before he gets back to Ithaca and his faithful wife Penelope.

We can never be certain that both these stories belonged to Homer. In fact 'Homer' may not be a real name but a kind of nickname meaning perhaps 'the hostage' or 'the blind one'. Whatever the truth of their origin, the two stories, developed around three thousand years ago, may well still be read in three thousand years' time.


E. V. Rieu was a celebrated translator from Latin and Greek, and editor of Penguin Classics from 1944-1964. His son, D. C. H. Rieu has revised his work.


D. C. H. Rieu is the son of E. V. Rieu, celebrated translator from Latin and Greek and Editor of Penguin Classics from 1944-1964.


Peter Jones is former lecturer in classics at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

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