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The Odyssey reviewed

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Want to get into the classics? Check out our review of The Odyssey to learn everything you need to know about this ancient epic poem by the Greek poet Homer.

The Odyssey reviewed

The classics of ancient literature help us understand the characteristics of different historical periods and recognize our antecedents.

One of the best-known works of classical literature is The Odyssey, an ancient Greek epic. Many agree this epic poem is the foundational work of western literature.

Here, we’ll discuss the epic’s plot and offer a review.

The Odyssey—A brief synopsis

The Odyssey (Ulysses in Latin) is one of the two major Greek epic poems written by Homer. Homer was an ancient Greek poet considered to be one of the most influential authors in history. His work shaped aspects of Greek culture and nurtured the ideals of glory and heroism.

Although Homer was incredibly influential, we don’t know much about his life. Many sources state he was a blind bard from Ionia, which is now in modern-day Turkey.

The Odyssey centers on Odysseus and his journey home to Ithaca after the Trojan War. The war lasted 10 years, and his journey was just as long.

At home, many people believe that Odysseus died at Troy. Due to this, Odysseus’ beautiful wife Penelope and son Telemachus have to deal with a long list of suitors who want to marry her and take Ithaca’s throne.

Once Odysseus arrives home, nobody recognizes him. He enters and wins a contest to prove his identity and retake the throne of Ithaca.

Numerous characters from ancient Greek mythology appear in the book, including the muse Calypso, Achilles, the goddess Athena, Circe, Nestor, Menelaus, Polyphemus, Zeus, Agamemnon, Poseidon, and others.

The Odyssey—Our review

Homer’s Odyssey is divided into 24 sections revolving around different events. We can group these sections into five parts:

  • Exposition (Books 1-4)
  • Escape to the Phaeacians (Books 5–8)
  • Odysseus’ account of his adventures (Books 9–12)
  • Return to Ithaca (Books 13–20)
  • Slaying of the Suitors (Books 21–24)

The Odyssey is undoubtedly one of the greatest works in literature. Many agree that every high school student should know at least something about the main plot and characters.

However, reading The Odyssey can be quite challenging due to lengthy descriptions and difficult language. Over the years, numerous new translations of The Odyssey have appeared. The most popular are Robert Fagles’ and Emily Wilson’s translations. Here, we’ll focus on the latter.

Book review of Emily Wilson’s translation of The Odyssey

Emily Wilson is a classical studies professor at the University of Pennsylvania. She did an amazing job translating Homer’s epic into modern English using iambic pentameter. Her translation of the Odyssey also features the same number of lines as the original.

We have to say that Wilson’s translation is incredibly streamlined and is a breath of fresh air. She managed to represent every character impeccably and even translate the epithets Homer was known for.

Emily’s translation of Homer pays special attention to the rhythm. She chose iambic pentameter because it’s the conventional meter for English narrative verse and has a unique echo. We believe this is what makes her translation one of the best. Her translation was published by W. W. Norton & Company from New York.

At its core, the Odyssey is a poem about gods and the Cyclops, but it’s much more than that. It’s a story about loyalty, determination, perseverance, and morals. We very much enjoyed Emily’s translation because she did a great job at making the story line even more interesting using a particular rhythm.

Experience The Odyssey on Speechify Audiobooks

The Odyssey is one of the most popular works originating from ancient Greece. However, due to its lengthy dialogues and descriptions, many don’t enjoy reading it. If you want to explore this world, you’ll be happy to know you can listen to the epic poem instead of reading it.

Many find listening to the audio version of The Odyssey easier and more comprehensive than reading the poem. If you’re one of them, Speechify Audiobooks is the platform for you. The platform lets you enjoy a high-quality audio version of the epic poem read by Dan Stevens.

On Speechify Audiobooks, you can explore thousands of other titles belonging to different genres. It can be a great way to experience literature. Plus, listening to audiobooks lets you multitask and organize your time efficiently.

Besides a wide selection of the best books in their audio version, Speechify Audiobooks offer convenient features that can enhance your experience. For example, you can adjust the playback speed according to your preferences or set a sleep timer.

You can use Speechify Audiobooks on your computer or mobile device. Since the platform syncs your progress automatically, you have nothing to worry about.

Try Speechify Audiobooks now and explore its amazing benefits.


Is it worth it to read The Odyssey?

Yes, it is worth it. If you’re reading The Odyssey, or another Homer’s epic poem, The Iliad, for the first time, ensure to find a quality translation.

What is the overall message of The Odyssey?

The Odyssey teaches us about powerful storytelling, loyalty, and vengeance. It shows that with enough determination and perseverance, you can achieve your goals and find your place in the world.

What is controversial about The Odyssey?

Over the years, The Odyssey has been banned in numerous areas worldwide. This usually happens because, according to some, the epic poem promotes ideas that don’t conform to modern behavior norms.

Why is The Odyssey so good?

Besides being a great romantic epic, The Odyssey is incredibly realistic and features a brilliantly crafted narrative. The way Homer lays out the plot and describes the characters still doesn’t cease to impress.

What is the author trying to convey in The Odyssey?

The author is trying to convey the importance of loyalty, faith, and self-control.

What is The Odyssey's core conflict?

The main conflict presented in the epic poem is between Odysseus’s strong desire to go home and the forces that prevent him from doing so.

Who is the least likable character in The Odyssey?

Many people agree the least likable character in The Odyssey is Calypso.

What is the most significant event in The Odyssey?

There are several significant events in the poem, but Odysseus’s return home is probably the most important one.

Cliff Weitzman

Cliff Weitzman

Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.