Introduced by Bernard Knox
Translated by Robert Fagles
Illustrated by Grahame Baker-Smith
The essential classical text presented in the renowned Robert Fagles translation.
Robert Fagles’s magnificent translation, described by Peter Levi as ‘an astonishing performance’, sings with drama and effortlessly conveys the texture and atmosphere of Homer’s original poetry. With Bernard Knox’s introduction discussing the history, the language and the nature of Odysseus as a hero, and Grahame Baker-Smith’s stirring images – dolphins leaping in a green sea while Zeus watches on, ready to throw his lightning bolt – this is a joyous edition of a well-loved text.
Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns
Driven time and again off course, once he had plundered
The hallowed heights of Troy.
After the Trojan War, Odysseus, the mythological king of the island of Ithaca, sets sail for home, where his wife Penelope and son Telemachus await him. But with the god Poseidon keeping a hostile eye, Odysseus’ journey is fraught with peril. When he finally returns disguised as a beggar, it is to face treachery and even greater danger. Featuring a succession of fantastical monsters and hazards that are at once familiar and thrilling – the Lotus Eaters, the Cyclops, the Sirens, the fearsome crags of Scylla and Charybdis – The Odyssey remains a seminal classical text, as essential and as entertaining as it ever was, and Odysseus is a refreshingly complex figure, full of cunning and pride. Contained within Homer’s Odyssey are the seeds of today’s literature; its style and atmosphere have influenced the arts in countless ways, while its monstrous creatures live on in a variety of modern guises.
‘If stranded on a desert island, I’d want with me The Odyssey… the perfect book with which to dream of homecomings’
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