Today we wanted to talk about the Odyssey! Now, hold on, I know what you’re probably thinking… That ancient book? Isn’t that just for old scholars? Or PhD level Classicists?
Yeah, we had our doubts too! But when one of us recently began reading it as part of a Classical Civilisation A Level, we realised that this really isn’t the case. In reality, the Odyssey is a magical and exciting journey through mythical lands that relate closely to our own. It tells the story of Odysseus’ decade-long struggle to return to his homeland after leaving to fight in the battle of Troy (detailed in Homer’s Iliad). Along the way, he must outwit the Cyclops Polyphemus, face the cunning sorceress Circe and even venture into the Underworld. It is a beautifully told tale that can be enjoyed by the people of today just as much as it was by the peoples of Ancient Greece when they first heard it, told by the storytellers of their time. And no, you don’t have to have a degree to read it! The modern translations of the Odyssey are very accessible, as we’ve discovered, so don’t let the age of the novel put you off.
Think of Harry Potter – who doesn’t love it, right? So, if in three thousand years time (if books even exist by then – they better had!), someone was put off because of it’s age, think what they’d be missing out on!
Even though the policies and cultures in the Odyssey can sometimes seem a little strange to us now, the characters are almost painfully human in Homer’s description. They show relatable and identifiable emotions and have understandable motives. Despite being written almost three thousand years ago, the Odyssey shows us how much we share with the people of the past: A comforting thought… Reading it, you feel almost within reach of the ancient world. The characters have hopes, dreams, fears and duties that – although they may not mach exactly – echo our own.
So, give Homer’s Odyssey a chance! We promise, if you’re a fan of fantasy and adventure, or even just love strong, rich characters, you won’t be disappointed 🙂