I started (re)reading it July last year (see previous posts here), which is the middle of our winter months. I enjoyed dipping into it a chapter at a time as our dark wintry evenings drew in. I reveled in the poetry – often reading sections out loud to savour the sounds as well.
But then I got stuck in the Kingdom of the Dead!
The roll call of names did my head in and I lost my way. My momentum was disrupted and the story slipped from my grasp.
Now – a New Year – a renewed resolution – a new Classics Club Spin #5.
I sneakily added The Odyssey to the end of my spin list in an attempt to help me finish it…and its number was drawn. I thought it was a sign from the ancient gods – it was meant to be!
However February and March, in Australia are the end of our summer months. It’s still very hot & sultry. Our evenings are lovely long twilights suffused with the scent of frangipani and the sounds of mating fruit bats!
Personally, we’re also very busy with the start of a new school year & pre-season soccer training and friendlies. February & March also sees a last flurry of end of summer BBQ’ing opportunities with family and friends!
As a result, I found it very difficult to find time to sit down and enjoy the slow pace of storytelling that is the second half of The Odyssey.
I finally got out of the Kingdom of the Dead, only to hit my own personal doldrums!
I was bored. I wanted things to hurry up. I got tired of all the tricks and strategies of the gods and Odysseus.
I got tired of the repetitions (necessary, I know, for an oral retelling, but tiresome to read).
I was ready to move on long before Homer was prepared to stop!
I cant help but think, that I would have been one of the buffoons nodding off to sleep over my mulled wine 3000 years ago long before the story ended!
The Odyssey is a boys own adventure from start to finish. It’s a world of gods & men doing their share of great & dastardly deeds.
Robert Fagles translation is certainly a beauty. I highly recommend his verse version over the prosaic prose of E. V. Rieu’s Penguin Classic text that I read twenty years ago.
I also recommend time – slow, leisurely time – to do this story justice.
My final suggestion is to source a quality audio version.
Listening to this story allows the language to weave its magic the way Homer meant it.