The Odyssey

by: Homer

Suggestions for Further Reading

Brann, Eva. Homeric Moments: Clues to Delight in Reading the Odyssey and the Iliad. Philadelphia: Paul Dry Books, 2002.

Brann’s book highlights important scenes and crucial moments of the narrative, while also emphasizing the striking imagery and musical effects of the language itself.

Burkert, Walter. Greek Religion. Translated by John Raffan. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, reprint edition 2006.

An indispensible reference on Greek religion, Burkert’s book breaks a vast subject down into comprehensible sections covering the different deities, rituals, and mythologies. For readers of the Odyssey, this book will demystify sacrificial scenes and clarify allusions to more obscure points of myth.

Clarke, Howard W. The Art of the Odyssey. London: Bristol Classical Press, new edition 1994.

Clarke’s book discusses the larger themes of the Odyssey, such as love, justice, and hospitality. The final chapter looks at parallels between Odysseus and the hero of the Iliad.

Clay, Jenny Strauss. The Wrath of Athena: Gods and Men in the Odyssey. Lanham, MD: Littlefield Adams, 1996.

Clay is interested in Odysseus as the object of both divine love and hatred, and explains this paradox as rooted in his excessive intelligence. According to Clay, Athena’s anger subsides due to a realization among the gods that their relationships with mortals are reciprocal, that is they must help man in his pursuit of justice if they are to be worshipped at all.

Finley, M. I. The World of Odysseus. New York: New York Review Books, reprint edition 2002.

Finley’s book seeks to unearth the social and economic realities behind Homer’s Odyssey, focusing on cultural practices and values such as hospitality, seafaring and trade, and honor. It also questions if Homer’s gods govern in accordance with morality and justice.

Griffin, Jasper. Homer: The Odyssey. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, reprint edition 2003.

The first section covers the making of the Odyssey, addressing issues like the date of its composition, its relation to oral poetry, and how it has been handed down to us in its present form. The second chapter studies the poem’s content, style, and narrative structure, and its third and final chapter looks at the Odyssey’s legacy.

Kirk, G. S. The Songs of Homer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, new edition 2004.

A general work on Homer, Kirk’s book first examines the Mycenaean Age, which is the historical setting of both the Iliad and the Odyssey, and follows with a section treating the nature of oral poetry. The second half of the book deals first with the “Homeric Question”, or when and by whom the Homeric poems composed.

Knox, Bernard. “Introduction.” In Homer, the Odyssey, trans. Robert Fagles. New York: Penguin Books, 1996.

Knox’s long introduction to Fagles’ famous translation covers the poem’s text and transmission, debates about its composition, its style and meter, the geography of Odysseus’ wanderings, and its complicated narrative structure.

Louden, Bruce. The Odyssey: Structure, Narration, and Meaning. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.

This book looks at the large-scale design of the Odyssey, using formal analysis to interpret the meaning of the poem. It argues that the Odyssey consists of one narrative pattern that repeats itself multiple times with variations, and that the poem should not be read as episodic series of unrelated scenes, but as an organic whole.

Nagy, Gregory. The Best of the Achaeans: Concepts of the Hero in Archaic Greek Poetry. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, revised edition 1998.

Nagy explores the paradox that Homer’s poetry is both traditional and individual, consisting of formulaic language and content to produce a highly expressive art form. it also focuses on the ambiguous nature of the hero, who is strong, but whose very strength threatens to transgress the boundary between mortal and divine.

Page, Denys. The Homeric Odyssey. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc. 1982.

Page does not believe that the Odyssey is a unified work of a single author, but rather a combination of smaller poems that at some point were stitched together.