Homer/ Translated by: Emily Wilson
So I decided to reread this solely because of the translation- apparently the first in English by a woman. Also because I was in a serious Black Sails mood and had sea-faring pirate vibes going.
Having read a messy, broken hard to follow translation in college (or high school? I just remember being annoyed) I thought I’d give this a go. It’s a great translation but man I still hate Odysseus and his son!
The story is about a trickster and pet of Athena who pisses of Poseidon on his way back home to Ithaca which seems like a shockingly stupid idea for a so-called smart man to piss off the God of the Sea but sure whatever genius.
He’s tossed off track sleeps with a couple of witch/goddesses, kills a bunch of people, gets a shit ton of his men killed, etc. I’m sure you know the tale.
Meanwhile we also get his whiny son Telemachus and his poor wife Penelope whose been holding off a bunch of obnoxious suitors for all this time. There isn’t much to say about the actual story. I would recommend this translation if you have to or want to read it (and I would also recommend the Claire Danes read audible version) but ugh, I still hate him.
The book also has a bunch of information and research in the beginning I was especially interested in the question of is The Odyssey a feminist text?
It’s an interesting question. Penelope does actually have a character and thoughts. But she’s still valued only for her beauty, fidelity and money by the men in her life. Save her son who has a split here where he seemingly wants her to stay loyal to his father forever and somehow also pick one of these losers and get the hell out of his house.
Helen rightly points out that everything that happened after she left was not on her but the mens… but that’s contradicted and she’s blamed by others in the story.
And then there’s Agamemnon’s constant whining about his wife and her lover killing him. Like dude I’m sorry but she told you not to kill your daughter! Get over it. And then there’s Telemachus killing of the slave girls at the end which I had forgotten about and will probably make me read Madeline Miller’s excellent Circe with a different eye where he’s concerned in the future.
Gosh maybe this is why I shouldn’t reread things?
So to sum up this reread the translation is as great as the rosy-fingered dawn and if you want to (or have to) read the Odyssey I’d pick this one up but I think I can officially say I will never like Odysseus in any translation.
Everyone should read The Odyssey at least once.