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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 May 2015
I'll be honest, my first experience of the basic story or the odyssey was watching 'Homer's Odyyssey' on the simpsons! But having seen a glimpse of the idea of the story when I was younger I vowed to one day read the real version. I'm glad I did and this penguin version in my opinion is the best way to get to understand the story whether you are into literature or not.

The odyssey is a poem and many translators have done excellent jobs of translating the text into English while keeping it a poem. However translating into a poem can not only sometimes lose some of the real story but can also alienate those who would like to know the story but can't deal with an epic poem. This is why this book is so great! The penguin version has been translated into a story, like reading a novel. This makes it incredibly easy to understand the plot and draws you so much more into the story.

The language used is also very easy to read and understand. Being a penguin book just like with wordsworth classics these books have little notes, whenever there's something that might not be understood by someone reading it they have added a helpful note, this makes reading it even easier. And when you are done with the story itself there is even to read at, where experts have added information (like the stuff you'd read if you were studying at school).

The story itself is very interesting, I won't give anything away and other reviewers have certainly added a lot about this but I will say that if you want to find out about this classic but aren't into the poetry aspect then this penguin version is definitely for you. I'd also recommend the illiad, written in the same format but set earlier, that book is every bit as readable as this one. The only hiccup in the story of the odyssey for me was right at the end. The ending seemed a bit off (the notes explain why) but I did feel a little dissatisfied by the ending, but that's just my personal opinion and doesn't change how great this book is.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 2 February 2013
I came to this book as someone who has a fair-to-middling grasp of 'standard' Attic Greek. I've also dabbled in Ionic, because I enjoy Herodotus.

But I'm getting on in years,and always regarded Homer as something that I could aspire to, but would probably never arrive at. When I flicked through the Iliad or Odyssey, the Greek just looked TOO bizarre and different.

I'd dabbled with one or two 'Homer made easy' books. Some were better than others, but none of them really left me feeling that I was ready for the real thing. Then I found this book, which I can't recommend highly enough to anyone who's standing on the polyphloisboian* shoreline of Homer, and wondering if they dare to take the plunge.

After the usual brief introduction that one finds in all these books (Who was Homer? Did he write it? When? What's it about? How does Greek poetry work? etc, etc.), you turn the page, and WOW - you're in at the deep end! Suddenly you're reading Book 1 of the Iliad in all its glory, and not dumbed-down even slightly! And you CAN read it, because of the copious helps on the facing page.

The Greek is divided up into digestible portions of about 10-12 lines - I found that this was just enough for a daily coffee-time session. The accompanying notes explain the grammar, the vocab, and where relevant provide socio-historical snippets of info.

As I say, I've tried several books as I've struggled to find my way into Homer, and I think this is the best by a VERY long way. I really can't imagine someone buying this and being disappointed by it.

The odd thing is... (and here I admit to being a bit of a Philistine)... the odd thing is that I never much liked the Iliad when I read it in English. But in Greek, I'm finding it HUGELY enjoyable.

Really, I can't recommend this book highly enough.

PS *'polyphloisboian' - No, I'd never come across that word before either! But all will be revealed when you get to Iliad Book 1, line 34!!!
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on 12 December 2013
Rather than reviewing Homer, which I have neither the time nor vocabulary for, my review is for the audio book. Nicely presented, good quality box set and book of words, and 12 discs. The content seems to be, to me as a Brit, an americanisation of the text. This is both an interesting slant, and often amusing, giving the work a modern interpretation. Stanley Lombardo does not read the text, he acts it enthusiastically, making for a really dramatic listen. Susan whatserface, who provides the synopses, comes across as stiff in comparison, but the content and delivery is both clear and concise. Because there are two voices, and because of Lombardo's acting, the volume fluctuates, so if you want this for bedtime lulls, you'll be kept up all night wondering what will become of big Ajax. If you want a shortcut into the work itself, you'll be hard pressed to find such an accessible presentation.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 5 September 2013
" `... insignificant / mortals, who are as leaves are, and now flourish and grow warm / with life, and feed on what the ground gives, but then again / fade away and are dead.' "

Note: this review is of the translation of the Iliad by Richmond Lattimore (University of Chicago Press, first published 1951: ISBN 0-226-46940-9)

While nearly everyone may be familiar with parts of the story of the Iliad, it probably comes as a surprise to many that Achilles does not actually die in the poem, but his fate is already set. I've read a lot of novels over the years based on stories around the Iliad and the Odyssey, and am familiar with much that happens in the overall storyline, but it's not until you read a really good transation, such as this one (assuming you cannot read the original Greek which I'm sorry to say I cannot) that you `hear' the beauty and compellingly stunning craft of this epic poem.

The lines of description, of action, of beauty and of horror remain true to colour even at this distance of years and culture. So much of the action in the book is of horrific battle scenes, where those who were wounded, unless it was superficial, had little or no chance of survival given the manner of war in those times. The descriptive battle scenes are, even to our `modern' jaded senses still horrific - for example "Patroklos coming close up to him stabbed with a spear-thrust at the right side of the jaw and drove it on through the teeth, then hooked and dragged him with the spear over the rail ... and as he fell the life left him." (16.404-410).

Lattimore's transation, first published in 1951, remains the translation of choice still for many scholars, and I'm glad I have read the Iliad right through in this translation. It is empathetic and retains much of the rhythm and structure of the original poem, according to other commentaries and works on the Iliad that I am currently studying in conjunction with this work.

15,693 lines of epic poetry, if composed by one man, that mysterious `Homer', and written down perhaps some two and a half thousand or more years ago, is a stunning accomplishment even today; to have been able to compose such a beautiful and astonishingly crafted work such a long time ago, especially if it was originally an orally remembered and transmitted work really does boggle the mind to consider. Brilliant stuff.
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on 5 December 2011
Stanley Lombardo's translation of the Iliad, one of the most significant works in the western canon, is to my mind the most accessible translation I've seen. A number of years ago I tried to read a different translation and gave up after a couple of chapters thinking life was to short. However Lombardo's translation is fresh and full of energy and engages you in the story. Some will no doubt find the colloquial elements and modern English not to their tastes prefering their classics to have a more archaic feel. However for the reader new to the Iliad and for the casual reader after an engaging, readable translation this is a great place to start.

There is no such thing, in my opinion, as a perfect translation. Something will always be lost. As such I would recommened those with a strong intererset in the Iliad to consult a number of translations. The most readily available are probably the Lattimore, Fagles, Fitzgerald and Rieu translations (though there are many more).

Lombardo, who is Professor of Classics at the University of Kansas, has also produced translations of The Odyssey and The Aeneid (Links are to Kindle editions. Paperback editions are also available.)
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on 17 June 2014
I bought this E.V.Rieu translation back in 1959 as a Penguin Classic - it cost 3/6, the first paperback I ever bought! I thought it was about time I bought a replacement.

This is an account of one of the first great journeys of exploration in humanity's history, and it may even be true at its heart. It tells of the journey of Odysseus after the Trojan War, a story that is told in The Iliad. There have been films based on this story, but nothing can beat Rieu's complete translation.

This revised version is a slightly reworked translation by E.V. Rieu's son, D.C.H. Rieu. He has added a timeline to the adventure, a guide to the main characters, an index and a glossary so we can find our way around. This makes it much easier as a study piece.

Reads like a novel, rather than a history book. The English is beautifully written, the story is exciting, and this 3,000 year old adventure holds up well against anything Hollywood can throw at us. An older child who likes reading should be given this as a birthday or Christmas present.
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on 12 September 2015
I wish I had read this years ago, now. I would have loved it in my 20s and 30s, full of daring action and masculine posturing. Some of the best bits are the dialogues with women (generally rare), but they tell their men that whilst they understand what is driving the conflict, their warriors also need to remember the possible fates of those left behind after battle. The real point of the trouble isn't Helen, but money, and that was quite a revelation. The Trojans would gladly hand her back if they thought it would stop the battle, but a Greek fleet requires paying for, and Paris took a lot of treasure along with the girl.
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on 14 March 2015
What can one say about Robert Fagles scholarly translation of one of the world’s most famous poems? The story of Achilles heated dispute with Agamemnon together with its tragic consequences all set against the background of the Trojan War is a story known, at least in outline, to most of us. The particular arrangement of words in in early Greek epic poetry, the dactylic hexameter, determined by the kind and number of metrical units in a line cannot however be retained in translation, even though it is necessary to obtain a complete understanding of Homer’s work. Fagles has attempted to retain some flavour of it, while still giving an accurate translation of the text. Those of us unprepared to learn the language in which this poem was written, should read, I think, several eminent translations, among which Fagles’ would feature, in order to get the best impression of the original work.
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on 1 April 2016

Yes, attractive cover but the page and binding quality cheap (glued-not sewn) and unattractive (thick paper) recommend EVERYMAN editions instead for a fine quality at similar or less cost.
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on 2 August 2017
Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey, as Europe's first literature, are essential reading to every human being. The books reoccur again and again; resurfacing in other literature related to antiquity and the biblical period. It is very satisfying to have a grasp, when Homer is mentioned, in other historical books. They are an essential to mankind, not only for Greek history, but also for human history as a whole.
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