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The Odyssey (Oxford World's Classics) [Paperback]

Homer , G. S. Kirk , Walter Shewring
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
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Book Description

10 July 2008 Oxford World's Classics
This prose translation of the Odyssey is so successful that it has taken its place as one of the few really outstanding versions of Homer's famous epic poem. It is the story of the return of Odysseus from the siege of Troy to his home in Ithaca, and of the vengeance he takes on the suitors of his wife Penelope. Odysseus's account of his adventures since leaving Troy includes his encounter with the enchantress Circe, his visit to the Underworld, and the lure of the Sirens.
ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

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The Odyssey (Oxford World's Classics) + The Iliad (Oxford World's Classics) + Metamorphoses (Oxford World's Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New Ed edition (10 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199536783
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199536788
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 12.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 90,128 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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.

Product Description


"This would be an appropriate selection--for the literature, for the myth--and what a wonderful time my students and I could have finding depictions in the visual arts."--Professor Dixie Durham, Chapman University"This is a wonderful translation....This should be the Odyssey of choice when translations are read in college courses."--Mark Taylor, Manhattan College"A fine, inexpensive prose adaptation."--John Thomas, University of Iowa --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lively and intelligent translation 9 May 2009
Let's assume that you already know the basics of the adventures of Odysseus, but want to get to grips with this great work of Greek literature in more depth. There are numerous translations available, so what are the benefits of this particular version? (Incidentally, don't forget that what this review is directed at is the translation - to review the epic in its original Greek would be somewhat presumptuous!)

Originally published in 1980, Walter Shewring's prose translation offers the educated reader a faithful but relatively easily readable journey through the many adventures of Odysseus, including his encounters with the enchantress Circe, the lure of the Sirens and his bloodthirsty escape from the cave of the Cyclops.

Some translations of the great classics are lumbering and cumbersome, but Shewring's work successfully retells Homer's ancient tale in tight but nevertheless thoughtful and inspiring language. A quick read it isn't, but it does pay the reader dividends for perseverance.

For a quick introduction to the major events in the life of Odysseus, you may wish to start off with Simon Armitage's verse adaptation of the Odyssey and then, having got your bearings, explore this landscape in greater depth.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A translation that is a delight to read 26 May 2009
Shewring's translation is a tour de force: modern, fluent and a seamless delight for the reader. This is publication of classics at its very best. Long may OUP continue to offer such pearls to the contemporary reader!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great poem... but not my favourite translation 4 May 2010
By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER
If you're looking for a fluent and stately translation of Homer's great poem then I would still recommend the Richmond Lattimore (The "Odyssey" of Homer (P.S.). But this is undoubtedly better than the very old Penguin translation which modernises Greek names in line with the British army (!).

For me, Lattimore comes closest to the feel of epic Greek with his rolling sentences and dignity. But if you're looking for something closer to a novelistic, rather than a poetic, retelling then this serves well.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grim myth, excellent translation 20 Mar 2005
I haven't read any other translations of 'The Odyssey', so don't have any grounds for comparison but, in terms of style alone, can heartily recommend Walter Shewring's effort. The language is clear and avoids the trap of being too archaic just because it is an old story (3000 years old, give or take). I read the odd classic and tend to take a deep breath before I start, preparing for the occasional hard slog. 'The Odyssey' was a surprisingly easy and enjoyable read.
The story itself is fairly familiar. Odysseus is delayed on his return home from Troy by the anger of the Gods. He faces many trials, such as the Sirens and the Cyclops before his is reunited with his son (Telemachus) and, ultimately, his wife. Before he can resume his old life, however, he must dispatch the suitors who have gathered to wed his wife, believing that he is dead. All the while he is being helped and hindered by the Gods. Before reading this, I hadn't realised that Odysseus' adventures are told as a flashback after his return to Ithica, and that they take up only about half of the book. The second half concerns the slaughter of the suitors and is slower moving, but still immensely enjoyable. The bloodthirstyness, and body count, rivals an average Schwarzenegger movie, as Odysseus fornicates and hacks his way round the Agean Sea. Not one for the children.
If you, like me, wanted to read 'The Odyssey' because of its status, but weren't really looking forward to it, then go for this translation. It captures the tone brilliantly, but is never over-stuffy or grandiose. I enjoyed it a lot and, like the blurb on the back, don't see how it could be better.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
I started reading this book already knowing the outline of Odessus's voyge back home after the battle of Troy through film, articles and reading a condensed version of the tale. I'm very glad I do have some fore-knowledge of the story as some parts of the book are quite ambiguous and confusing. The rich narrative of the text sometimes bogs the action down and it is quite easy to forget what exactly is happening.
The action though, when it comes, is exciting and often quite blood thirsty. The plot devices are also ingenious and completly ruthless in some cases- Odyssus is the only one of his party to arrive home after all his soldiers meet grusome deaths at the hands of his mortal enemies.
Possibly one of the most interesting things about the story is the way modern litrature and culture have frequently mirrored or refered to Homer's plot ideas (if you can say there's a plot, The Odyssey is written as a true story). The classic story of someone trying to return home against enormous odds has been used over and over often with subtle or not so subtle usage of Homer's myth. The images within the book of the sirens and the cyclopes are famous in their own right and it's amusing to see how they all fit into place in the larger scheme.
The split narrative of the story is very interesting as the tale of the journey home is sometimes told in hindsight or fore warning making the structure of the story jump. This seems very unusual in a book pre-twentieth century let alone cica 700BC!
Some parts of the book are repetative, steeped in unecessary narrative and are confusing.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Very detailed.
This may not suit those who are studying the epic for their A Level Classics work, but for wanting escapism the Όδυσσευ is a joy, albeit dysfunctionally.
Published 9 months ago by Tarquin Bond
5.0 out of 5 stars A poetic and touching translation as well as a wonderful epic
After much study of translations to buy, I chose the prose translation of Walter Shewring, by Oxford. There were choices between E V Rieu , Samuel Butler and Shewring. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Chayan Banerjee
4.0 out of 5 stars Odysseus is coming home
This is the sequel to The Iliad written by Homer (Historians are not sure exactly on the author) in around 800bc; originally of course an ancient Greek poem - this is a modern... Read more
Published 18 months ago by H. Tee
5.0 out of 5 stars A Remarkably Accessible Translation of Homer's Odyssey
I have adopted Walter Shewring's splendid translation of "The Odyssey" many times in my undergraduate classes on Greek Civilisation and Women in Antiquity. Read more
Published on 9 Oct 2011 by F. S. L'hoir
4.0 out of 5 stars A Classic Adventure
I read this after reading the Oxford World's Classic version of the Illiad. While the Illiad has the more charismatic characters and the energy and excitement of epic battles,... Read more
Published on 15 April 2006 by GeeJayBee
4.0 out of 5 stars Go Odysseus! Get those dastardly suitors!
Let's be clear: If you're anything like me, you won't zoom through this book in one night. It's an old story, and, although the translation isn't exactly as hard to understand as... Read more
Published on 29 April 2005 by B. Davison
5.0 out of 5 stars War and Penelope.
I hope that those who read my review will forgive me because I would like to talk mainly about Penelope, the wife of Odysseus. Read more
Published on 3 Oct 2004 by Jan Dierckx
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book
The Odyssey is a very interesting book because of the way is it's written these book is mainly about hereous ,gods and interesting people. Read more
Published on 25 Feb 2004 by edgar rodriguez
5.0 out of 5 stars A adventure book
I think that this book is so cool is one of the most important books and I think that this book is really so cool I learned about the goddens I think that this writer was so... Read more
Published on 25 Feb 2004 by mayra sosa
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