Black figure kylix, Heracles struggling with the sea-god Triton, ringed by dancing sea-nymphs, ca. 550 B.C.

Listen to exclusive audio clips of Homeric translator, Robert Fagles, reading The Odyssey in Greek and Sir Ian McKellan reading the English translation
Translated by Robert Fagles
Introduction and Notes by Bernard Knox
ISBN: 0140268863

Scholar and translator Robert Fagles won rave reviews and praise from critics and scholars alike for his magnificent verse translation of Homer's Iliad. Similar accolades greeted the publication by Viking of Fagles' long-awaited and brilliant verse translation of The Odyssey, the favorite epic poem of the West. Fagles' Odyssey was the subject of glowing reviews and feature stories in Time, The New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, The New Republic, and The New York Review of Books; Time named it one of the ten best books of 1996. Fagles' reputation as one of the great translators of our time was further enhanced, when he was awarded the prestigious PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation.

In its universal scope and in the magnitude of heroism it displays, Homer's account of Odysseus' perilous ten-year voyage from Troy to his home in Ithaca is perhaps the world's most fabulous and seductive story of adventure, as well as a great epic of return and restoration. Homer's heroes struggle through their lives in conflict with the elemental forces and with the gods—the immortal powers who dwarf the mortal players at the same time as they lend them stature, grandeur, and even a touch of the eternal. By recasting the timeless idiom of Homer in the living English of our day, Fagles makes new again the poem's force, its rolling sea-swell, its cruelty and compassion, humanity and inexhaustible vitality.

As Fagles points out in his postscript to the book, Homer's work is a performance, even in part a musical event. The challenge for the translator is to convey the impact of performance in the quieter medium of writing, something Fagles has accomplished marvelously. What distinguishes this translation from previous ones is the way in which Fagles has managed to find the middle ground between Homer's original creation and the expectations of the contemporary reader. As Fagles says, "my version is, I hope, neither so literal in rendering Homer's language as to cramp and distort my own—though I want to convey as much of what he says as possible—nor so literary as to brake his energy, his forward drive." Fagles also achieves a balance between Homer's more spacious hexameter line and a tighter one more familiar in English verse. He opts for a vigorous give-and-take between the two, one that offers a blend of variety and uniformity, and makes the poem "wonderfully readable," as Ted Hughes remarks.

The renowned Hellenic scholar Bernard Knox has written for this translation a masterful introduction and textual commentary which treats every aspect of The Odyssey—from the history behind the poem to Homer's methods of composition to the character of his heroes, Odysseus and Penelope. The book also includes notes, a full pronouncing glossary, genealogies, a bibliography, and maps of Homer's world.