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Book review: The Odyssey by Homer

The OdysseyThe Odyssey by Homer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This story is the sequel to The Iliad (see my review of The Iliad). It records the adventures of Ulysses (AKA Odysseus), one of the heroes of the Trojan War, as he makes his way home to Ithaca. Ulysses is cunningly crafty and sometimes manipulative, forges friendships and alliances, and plots vengefully against his enemies.

There aren't as many familiar characters here as in The Iliad, but there's a wider range of cultures since the tale follows Ulysses' travels to many lands. A few memorable creatures include the cyclops Polyphemus, the sirens, and the sea monster Scylla.

One major theme is being a good host; providing shelter, food, clothing, and aid to those in need. Another is loyalty; Ulysses, sometimes in disguise, questions many to find out whether they're for or against him and his family. He remembers both friends and foes when he finally returns home, and deals with them accordingly.

As in The Iliad, the Olympian deities choose sides in human affairs. Minerva guides Ulysses in his homeward journey, and assists and Ulysses' son Telemachus in preparing Ithaca for Ulysses' return. Neptune, however, attempts to foil Ulysses' plans, since Ulysses injured Neptune's son, the cyclops Polyphemus. There's a connection to The Iliad when Ulysses visits Hades and speaks to the dead, many of whom are familiar heroes of the Trojan War.

I listened to the free audiobook of The Odyssey from LibriVox, based on the Samuel Butler translation.

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