- Audio Download
- Listening Length: 8 hours and 32 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Audible Studios
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 24 Jan. 2013
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00B5G3244
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
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Homer's Daughter Audiobook – Unabridged
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It is based on the theory originally developed by Samuel Butler (1835 –1902, author of The Way of All Flesh), that, while Homer (or the male bards called Homeridae, or Sons of Homer) were responsible for The Iliad, The Odyssey was composed by a Sicilian woman, and its landscape located in Sicily (especially the territory of Trapani) and its nearby islands: unlike the Iliad, the Odyssey focusses on social areas where women had expertise, but less with knowledge areas in the male field. Robert Graves was convinced of this theory, and it accorded with his general tendency to allocate strong roles to women, as his belief in a matriarchal religion and power females such as Livia in 'I Claudius'.
PLOT SPOILERS: please note, as it's difficult to give a review without including some.
In 'Homer's Daughter', Nausicaa is the fictional authoress of The Odyssey, with its Odysseus homecoming part based on her own personal experiences of an attempt by encroaching suitors in Sicily to usurp the kingship in her father's absence, and murder her brothers.
Nausicaa is left with few resources to defend her family, except one young adolescent brother who will clearly be targetted next, and her elderly uncle, the Regent, who is soon displaced and assassinated. Nausicaa and her brother are faced with the situation of Penelope and Odysseus' son Telemachus in The Odyssey, with almost no-one to rely on except a few loyal retainers. But a stranger, a Cretan nobleman, is washed ashore, as was Odysseus in Corcyra in the Odyssey, and Nausicaa sees that she can use him to help her. They save their father's kingdom and their family by courage and resourcefulness, and events follow a similar pattern to the return of Odysseus in The Odyssey. This forms the bulk of the story.
Afterwards, Nausicaa composes The Odyssey, a long epic poem in the Homeric bardic tradition about the return of Odysseus from Troy, inventing adventures and integrating them into existing traditions but composing a homecoming section based on her own experiences. She then persuades a bard, whose life she has saved, to learn it by heart, and credit it to the Homeric tradition. (The real Homer, here, is accredited with having lived about 1000BC, some 250 years before).
Part of the charm and virtue of Graves’ novel lies in its always competent use of Homeric style language and rhetoric in the dialogue, its sense of being completely in period, inside the thoughts and feelings of the 8th century BC. Almost all the characters, Nausicaa, her brother Clytoneus, uncle Mentor, the stranger Aethon, the loyal swineheard Eumaeus, and one has to say the principal bad suitors too, have a ready tongue, an immediate resourcefulness and ability to hold their own and present their case, in formal language, in a highly effective way. The society, religious beliefs, manners and mores and rhythms, are in keeping with those found in The Odyssey.
Anyone reading 'Homer's Daughter' should not expect 'I Claudius'. It is written in a different voice, that of a 8th century BC woman and her society. It should also be approached as a novel in its own right, not merely as a crutch for Robert Graves' theory about authorship of The Odyssey. The heroine is spirited, highly intelligent, resourceful, articulate verbally and able to hold her own; and I found her convincing, both as a woman and character. One or two captious Amazon reviewers suggest that the characters are not fully three dimensional, a criticism without foundation as far as I can see. The characters are in the tradition of the culture of the time, which generated The Iliad and The Odyssey, they are what they say, do and feel. That is exactly what should be expected of a novel of this kind.
You'll enjoy this novel more by having read The Odyssey or at least being conversant with its plot, but it's not necessary.