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The Odyssey (Classics) [Paperback]

Homer , D.C.H. Rieu , Peter Jones , Dominic Rieu , E.V. Rieu
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

28 Feb 1991 Classics
By its evocation of a real or imaged heroic age, its contrasts of character and its variety of adventure, above all by its sheer narrative power, the Odyssey has won and preserved its place among the greatest tales in the world. It tells of Odysseus' adventurous wanderings as he returns from the long war at Troy to his home in the Greek island of Ithaca, where his wife Penelope and his son Telemachus have been waiting for him for twenty years. He meets a one-eyed giant, Polyphemus the Cyclops; he visits the underworld; he faces the terrible monsters Scylla and Charybdis; he extricates himself from the charms of Circe and Calypso. After these and numerous other legendary encounters he finally reaches home, where, disguised as a beggar, he begins to plan revenge on the suitors who have for years been besieging Penelope and feasting on his own meat and wine with insolent impunity.

Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; 1st Revised edition edition (28 Feb 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140445560
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573353809
  • Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 13.4 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 545,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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From the Back Cover

The second work of Western literature, Homer's Odessey is, as Peter Jones says in his illuminating introduction, "rich in character, adventure and incident, reconciling reality with fantasy, the heroic with the humble." It recounts the story of Odysseus's return to Ithaca from the Trojan war and tells how, championed by Athene and hounded by the wrathful sea-god Poseidon, Odysseus encounters the ferocious Cyclops, escapes Scylla and Charybdis, and yields temporarily to the lures of Circe and Calypso before he overcomes the trials awaiting him on Ithaca. Only then is he reunited with his faithful wife Penelope, his wanderings at an end.

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Tell me, Muse, the story of that resourceful man who was driven to wander far and wide after he had sacked the holy citadel of Troy. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By ShiDaDao Ph.D TOP 1000 REVIEWER
This book is a joy to encounter. It is an English translation of Homer's (c.750BCE) ancient Greek Classic, often referred to as the second book in Western literature - the first being Homer's Illiad. It is the story of Odysseus' 20 year return journey back to the Greek island of Ithaca, from the Trojan War - the Trojan War campaign being the subject of the Illiad. It is believed to have originally been a poem describing events dating to around 1,200BCE. Homer appears to have written this story of oral tradition onto paper for the first time. Although Homer lived in the 8th century (BCE), which was the Iron Age in Greece, the Odyssesy continuously refers to weapons and armour being made of bronze, which again suggest an earlier time. However, although the core of the story may well be hundreds of years older thanHomer's time, nevertheless, certain curious contemporary practices appear to be recorded. In around 1,200 BCE, the habit for dealing with the dead was burial, in Homer's time it was cremation. Homer cites in the Odyssesy that dead people were 'cremated'. This means that oral traditions are not static but continue to develop all the time, around a much older core story.

The paperback (1991) edition contains 394 numbered pages and contains the following sections:

1) Preface.
2) Introduction - Peter V Jones.
3) Brief Reading List - Peter V Jones.
4) The Odyssesy - Pages 1-394.

The original text of this translation was published in 1946, by EV Rieu, the co-founder of the Penguin Classics series (with Sir Allen Lane). The purpose of this series was to produce modern English version of literary classics that everyone could easily access. The Oydssey was the first published Penguin Classic, whilst the Illiad was the second.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Version! 31 May 2011
I got this from my Dad who read it many years ago and still loves it. I've looked at many different copies of the Odyssey and this, this easily the best of them, even though it's from 1991 it is still the best!
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1.0 out of 5 stars Not for the content but for the company 30 Mar 2014
Format:Audio Cassette|Verified Purchase
Do not ever by anything from They claimed to have despatched y item then sent an e-mail saying they had tried to deliver it - an absolute lie- and so had taken the item back. When I e-mailed to point out this couldn't be the cast they then e-mailed to say the item had been damaged in shipping and so couldn't be sent to me. All of this was a tissue of lies. I have had to buy the item at a much higher price and will NEVER be dealing with this company again. They have cost me a great deal of money (I could have got the item at a price not much more than theirs at the time of ordering) and I now know they had no intention of sending it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent version 16 Sep 2013
By R.P.M.
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
For many readers, E V Rieu's prose translations of The Odyssey and The Iliad are established classics in their own right, rivalled only, in my opinion, by Richmond Lattimore's renderings into verse.

This edition of The Odyssey has a revised translation made by Rieu's son, D C H Rieu, in which the gods' crucial influence is seen more clearly, as it was in the original Greek. For example, E V Rieu has 'it occurred to me' instead of the original 'a god put this into my mind', which his son has correctly restored. Formulae once again have their place -- to reflect the poem's original oral transmission -- as do the epithets theirs. D C H R has also tidied up some of the 1940s' 'modernisms' though he has been extremely careful and judicious in altering elsewhere his father's splendid prose.

Add to this an introduction, glossary and footnotes by Homeric expert Dr Peter Jones (who could make a tax form sound fascinating), and you have a wonderfully vivid version of this second classic of Western literature.

Warmly recommended, but take a look at Lattimore too.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rieu's prose translation is best for general reader 13 Jun 1998
By "nicbirns2" - Published on
. I decided to teach THE DOYSSEY (in a college general education course) from E.V. Rieu's prose translation (Penguin) because I am teaching students at a somewhat introductory level and wanted to do the simplest modern translation possible. To my surprise, I found the simplest, after some comparison, to be revealed as the best. For one thing, epic simile in Rieu's translation is not obtrusive, nor is it meant to be. It is meant to familiarize the non-Homeric reader with the Homeric world, not to serve self-consciously as an example of metaphor as such, which is what freshman-English teachers wanting to smuggle a bit of "literature" into their heavy Great Books diet tend to do. A good example here is in the Circe episode when the mountain lions threatening Odysseus' men but drugged by Circe are compared to dogs whining for scraps at their masters' table. Rieu lets the image speak for itself, and perform its rhetorical function, without having it obtrude from the narrative . The fuss that has greeted Robert Fagles' recent translation of the Odyssey is unprecedented--except if one remembers, as I do, that the Richmond Lattimore and Robert Fitzgerald translations were greeted with equal acclaim a generation ago. Both Bernard Knox (who wrote the introduction to Fagles' translation) and Fagles himself speak of Fitzgerald and Lattimore with mild disparagement, while the reviewers, implicitly by their attitude of "Fagles has finally provided us with a Homer for our time" implicitly dismiss Fitzgerald and Lattimore as failures. Yet the funny thing is Fagles, Fitzgerald, and Lattimore are all rather similar. They were all born within twenty years of each other, in the first quarter of the 20th century. Fagles, Fitzgerald, Lattimore all see themselves as tough-minded modernists, Poundian types, hewers to a stringent poetic line, none of this romantic eloquence or any of this "art" nonsense. They are all of the same vintage. Whatever the social and cultural changes from 1960 to n! ow, they have probably not been substantial enough to change the way we see Homer, a poet writing at the earliest 2700 years ago, from the perspective of a senior scholar/translator. Fagles is probably the best of the poetic versions, as he retreats from the extreme Hellenization in some of the others which gave us "Kirke" instead of the more familiar Circe. Fagles also includes Telemachus' rebuke to his mother, telling her to return to the women's quarters and mind her own business. Fitzgerald had deleted this in apparent recognition of the women's movement. I guess you can see Fagles' re-inclusion of the rebuke as third-wave feminism. Anyway, I don't see that Fagles represents anything but a slight improvement over Fitzgerald and Lattimore, and I do not recommend any of the three. If you want a prose translation that preserves both the sense and phrasing of Homer and is good for introductory students and the general reader, than take the E.V. Rieu translation.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The wanderings and adventures of Odysseus. 24 May 1999
By R. D. Allison ( - Published on
This epic were required reading in the humanities course I took at U.C.L.A. in the mid-1960s. And, I've reread it a number of times since then. The prose translation I read was by Rieu (if you are interested in the verse translation, see the volume provided by Robert Fagles). "The Odyssey" is the epic poem of the wanderings of Odysseus trying to return to his home in Ithaca following the end of the siege of Troy. There are three basic threads in this epic: Telemachus' search for his father, Odysseus (Books II-IV); the wanderings of Odysseus (Books I and V-XIII); and, Penelope's struggles with her suitors (Books XIV-XXIV). All of these come together in the conclusion. "The Odyssey" begins in the middle of the tale (in medias res) when Odysseus request to leave Calypso on the island of Ogygia. Much of his wanderings are told as recaptulations of earlier events. Telemachus sets out from Ithaca to find his father; but he searches in vain at Pylos and Sparta. Odysseus has many adventures in his travels: battle with the warlike Cicones; an encounter with the Lotus-Eaters; the famous fight with the cyclops Polyphemus; a near shipwreak following the release of winds from a bag; a visit with the enchantress Circe who turns Odysseus' men into swine; talks with the spirits of the dead; escape from the Sirens; eluding Scylla and Charybdis, two sea-monsters lying between Italy and Sicily; the killing of the sacred oxen of the Sun; seven years with Calypso; another shipwreak; rescue by King Alcinous; and the final arrival on Ithaca. This is one of the great classics of literature and evry college student should be required to read it. I've always felt that until recently when I discovered that, at a local Middle School, it was required reading for eighth graders! Now, I think that all High School graduates should have read it.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What can I say? 12 Mar 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Anybody who can give "The Odyssey" negative ratings, except for those criticizing the translation, have a serious brain defect. This is considered one the greatest books ever written, folks. No, I am not a tenured professor of English or anything like that, but to all of those students out there in high school or college, here's a story to which you can relate. I read "The Odyssey" in my sophmore year of high school and hated it. I never thought that a mere three years later I would come to appreciate this great masterpiece as much as I did. In my freshmen year of college I was "forced" to read this book for my freshmen English class and I realized how much I had grown up between the age of 16 and 18. Don't forsake this book. It is a masterpiece that will survive the test of history for thousands of years to come.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic re-made... 4 Sep 2008
By Ryan Kouroukis - Published on
(I'm not sure why amazon has over half of these reviews for Fagels's translation on Rieu's page? I noticed this happening quite a bit on amazon, but anyway...)

I have spent quite a bit of time comparing versions of "The Odyssey", and out of all of them I settled on Rieu's pioneering translation.

It was originally published in 1946 as Penguin's very first book!

He would recite "The Odyssey" from the original Greek to his wife and children during the second world war in London while bombs dropped around them. It was Rieu's wish to start a publishing company that dealt with reviving the classics for common man. Penguin Classics is now the most widely loved, read and utilized editions on the market! What a vision he had!

This edition of The Odyssey was revised by his son in 1991 and reprinted with a better print and layout in 2002. It still carries a type of "joie de vivre" all throughout, a wonderful raciness, and a strength of believablity. good as the revised one is, Rieu's original more important and historic because of the eloquent and humble human language he uses...which has largely been taken away.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic Journey 29 Oct 2002
By Student - Published on
The Odyssey was probably the best book I have ever read. I first read this epic poem as a freshman in high school, and have read it many times after that. The epic journey by Homer captures the journey through life and its obstacles. Odysseus is main character that must journey to find his way home after the victorious battle of Troy. Odysseus has to overcome many obstacles that lie in his path to return home.
In life we also face obstacles that limit our ability. To overcome each different obstacle, one must use strength, mind, and perseverance to move on and succeed in life.
Odysseus overcame these obstacles by problem solving and thinking ahead. The Odyssey really captures the essences of life lessons through out time. The book was excellent. I mean where else can you find bloody battles, passionate love scenes, giant maelstroms, and the occasional six-headed monster.
I recommend this book to any reader, whether in High School, College, or just the average reader. The Odyssey is a definite classic.
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