Book Review: The Odyssey by Homer, interpereted by Robert Fagels

odysseyYou may have heard about the two great epic poems of Greece, purportedly written by a blind poet, Homer: The Illiad and The Odyssey.

It was required reading for my English course to read The Odyssey. Warning: It is not a quick and easy read. I read the poem version, and that was 485 pages of verse. Though it may seem like an odyssey in itself to read this book, I found it to be surprisingly good, given the time period in which it took place.

An odyssey is a long journey. This epic tells of the odyssey of Odysseus, a great hero who left his hometown of Ithaca, Greece to fight in the Trojan War. The entire poem tells of the trials and hardships that Odysseus encounters in his attempt to return home after the war. The book is full of daring adventures, the whims of the immortal gods (mainly Zeus, Poseidon, Athena), and lots of bloodshed.

Given that the novel is in verse and was written so long ago, the names and places are now abstract to present day audiences, but that did not necessarily take away from the poem. To me, this aspect of the poem made it seem even more like a fairytale, since many of the names and places are so intangible and seem made up.

I would not necessarily recommend going out of your way to read this book, but when you have to study it for an English class, keep in mind that it is not a terrible book as may have been rumored by other students. Be grateful that we now have access to ways of reading books both on paper, audio books, and electronically, because in Homer’s time, this entire poem was passed down through oral traditions. That means this 485-page poem was memorized in its entirety! That was probably the most shocking part of the whole reading experience!

– Leila S., 9th grade

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