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4.8 out of 5 stars
The Odyssey of Homer
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 24 September 2009
This is not a new translation, the translator Richard Lattimore died a few years ago, but it is one of the best blank verse translations I have ever read (the other really good one is by Francis Caulfeild, but you would be lucky to find a copy now). The translator has attempted to reproduce in English blank verse the style and idiom of Homer's original Greek version (dating from about 2600 years ago). I am not qualified to comment on the technicalities of Lattimore's Greek-English translation, but I have been enjoying The Odyssey in English translations for several decades now and know a 'good read' when I find one.
There is a very good introduction which, yes, gives the plot away, but that does not matter as Homer's original audience knew the story well anyway - what made Homer's Odyssey so good was the way he told it; and in essence it is the same thing that makes Lattimore's translation so good - there is a freshness that keeps you reading, and although I have read a number of different versions, each of them several times, this book is still compulsive reading. The introdction also covers the construction of the story, which starts halfway through, then fills in the earlier events like a 'flashback' before continung to the end (yes, Homer thought of this way of telling a story long before our current film/TV industry did).
There is an exhaustive and very helpful glossary, mostly concerning the identities of the numerous people and gods who appear or are referred to in the story.
Yes, this is a recommended book to anyone who wants something a bit more demanding than airport pulp fiction and who can be patient with and open to the idiosyncracies of a very old, and comparatively expansive, writing style.
The "Odyssey" of Homer (P.S.)
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 14 May 2009
There's a confusing choice of translations of The Odyssey available on the market; some are wonderful, and some are frankly torrid and almost impenetrable even to a reader who is educated in and familiar with the classics.

Although some of the prose translations may initially seem to offer an easier route into the marvels of Homer, don't be fooled! Lattimore has produced a translation that is sparkling in its imagery and is therefore in many respects a far easier read than many prose versions.

Quite simply, as the blurb on the cover states: you'd be excused for thinking that The Odyssey was actually originally written in English!

For a verse translation of Homer's Odyssey, you won't go wrong with Lattimore.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 19 February 2006
When I was at school we studied the Rieu transalation of The Odyssey so when I revisited the epic as part of my university course I was reluctant to switch to the recommended Lattimore version. I eventually overcame my fear of change and am pleased to report that the Lattimore is the most faithful and accurate translation that I have encountered. It also makes a great study aid when refering back to the original ancient greek sources.
While Lattimore or Rieu are both suitable for those of us with slight scholarly inclinations - I understand that beginners might be better with a prose translation such as Shewring. I will still keep my Rieu translation on the bookshelf out of fondness!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon 19 October 2006
People are generally supposed to be either an 'Iliad' person or an 'Odyssey' person and I have to confess that I'm definitely an 'Iliad' person. Even so, this is THE translation of the Odyssey, whether you're a student or a general reader. Lattimore amazingly maintains the narrative drive of the original with a sense of the majestic sound and rhythm of the language so that you know you're reading an 'epic' - in all senses of the word.

Hailed as a fantasy/romance depicting the Greek's engagement with the outside world that they were coming into contact with through colonisation, or a meditation on what it means to be civilised and urban as opposed to being 'natural' such as the cyclops or Circe, this is still a wonderful story with which anyone can engage.

Where the Iliad is about dissolution, death and the breaking of all human bonds, the Odyssey is about reconciliation, restitution and homecoming. Odysseus (the Roman Ulysses) is a Greek 'everyman' struggling to make it home from Troy to his faithful wife Penelope while facing the challenges (both martial and sexual) of his opponents, and on his journey meets and defeats the sirens, the cyclops, Sylla and Charybdis, Circe, Kalypso and a host of other obstacles.

For me, one of the most fascinating and poignant episodes is where we see Helen back at home in Sparta with her husband Menelaus who has brought her back from Troy.

Essential reading as one of the foundations of European literature, this is a far better translation that the prose Penguin or Oxford versions.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
This translation of The Odyssey is highly rated by classics scholars. My classics teacher at school rated as the finest following the original Greek virtually line for line with astonishing accuracy into English. Not having quite reached that level in Classical Greek, I cannot comment on that. But I have read several translations of this work (surely one of the greatest books ever written). The poetry flows without ever losing the narrative thread. Those unused to reading poetry will have no problems with this. The notes on place names, gods etc (which are liberally spread inside the text) are clear and helpful. Lattimore's introduction to the text is excellent. Those coming first to the Odyssey wanting a prose translation might try Rieu's excellent one in Penguin Classics. But you hardly need it- translation does not get better than this - nor or that matter does poetry.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 3 March 2009
Filled with noun epithets and other Homeric figures of speech that could only be brought out in verse. So it's very good if you are studying Homer.
I read it in prose the first time when I was younger not knowing that there was verse translations.

With Lattimore's version you get a sense that you are actually reading somrthing that is as close to the original as you're gonna get.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 2 January 2008
I approached this verse translation with a degree of trepidation due to the every so often daunting nature of epic poetry. The reality, however, of reading the poem (occasionally out loud for dramatic effect), supported, simultaneously, by constant reference to the edition's indispensable glossary and Peter Jone's excellent commentary (Bristol Classical Press, 2005), made the experience an immensely rewarding and highly informative experience. There is so much material in this epic that permeates European culture, past and present, and has become ingrained in numerous works of art (i.e. painting, literature, architecture, opera), that to not read it would be a distinct disadvantage for those interested in over 2500 years of Homer's legacy. Now that I have read this edition I am keen to explore the historical period in which the Homeric phenomenon arose and have another read of Ovid's Roman interpretation (Metamorphoses) of this ancient myth.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 10 May 2013
The Odyssey is a great story, I only wish I could read it in the original Greek, but as I can't and I am far too old to learn now, I sought advice on which translate to buy. The translation does make all the difference, and there are so many out there, a number very good, that it is difficult to decide which to buy. I was told that Richmond Lattimore's was one of the best around, I took the advice, bought the Kindle version, and am glad i did because I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 14 March 2011
This translation was first published in 1967. Every generation needs a new translation. I thought so until I read this version. It is a magnificent, lucid, and emotional translation. It is notoriously difficult-if not nigh impossible- to try and retain the verse, metre and integrity of a Greek original. Many turn it into prose and be done with it. Lattimore has attempted to stay as close to the original as is possible without mangling the clarity of the original and the English.

It is written with a clear english without colloquialisms creeping in that distract from it. Epic in nature it really does seem to bring it all to life - and yes I would say its a page turner! it is one of my favourites. Since it was first published, research has advanced a pace and there are some mis-translations. Few but not in any way detracts are alters the major thrust of the storyline.

Buy it with Peter Jones' commentary and it will set you up with many hours of interesting and involved study. Thoroughly reccommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I read this book at school many years ago and it caught my imagination then.
The notes to this book are very useful if,like me you are now studying the classical periiod this work was written in. I would recommend this book to anyone who wishes to study the Odyssey seriously.
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