Monday 5 August 2013

The Odyssey #3

I have a confession.

I'm stuck.

I was thoroughly enjoying my first ever reading of The Odyssey in verse thanks to Robert Fagles translation. I had even tempted Mr BB to try a little of it and he was impressed with the language and rhythm.

But then I hit Book 11.


The long, tedious roll call of the dead had me pulling my hair out. I checked my prose version to see if that was any better, but after name, woe after woe...the dead just kept on coming. (I had obviously read it through once upon a time as I had highlighted all the names of the dead! Although maybe I was just keeping a body count?!)


I've given myself a half-way break (joining in a To Kill A Mockingbird readalong and now the Austen in August) but I fear I'm just avoiding it now and won't find my way back.

Could this be my own private Odyssey?
Is is my own trial and tribulation? Do I need a wily, cunning trick to get back on track?

What am I missing?


  1. Ancient epic poetry does that. It's worse in the Iliad: there's a "catalogue of ships" in that one. Pages and pages about which ships sailed to Troy, who was on them, who wore what armor, who's the son of so-and-so's second grandson who sailed in that ship wearing that armor... I wanted to be among the dead at that point.

    The list of dead heroes is supposed to make Odysseus stand out as a hero, I think. Everyone else--and Homer does mean EVERYONE--just dies, but Odysseus goes to to the Underworld and returns. No one does that. He's an ancient Greek James Bond.

    Plus, Odysseus needs to hear about what happened to Agamemnon when he arrived home and what happened to Achilles. It's all about trust and loyalty and family and returning home in spite of the odds. And what awaits you when you do.

    Keep your eye on the prize! Things will pick up: more adventures (not lists!) are still to come.

    1. Thank you!
      Your Greek James Bond made me laugh!!
      And now you've given me a reason for the whole list thing I can probably push past it :-)

  2. You can do it --remember that wonderful monster-filled Book 12 is next! - Sirens, Scylla & Charybdis. Lots of action!

    1. Thanks for the moral support.
      It helps :-)

  3. The vast majority of the time I am a completist and attempt to read every word of a text. If I recall correctly, on the two instances that I read this I must confess to skipping and skimming over some of this part.

  4. It works so much better as an audio!

    1. I heard Daniel Morden retell this story at the Sydney Writer's Festival. It was a wonderful way to absorb it. I'll look out for the audio - thanks :-)


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