The Odyssey: (penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) by Bernard HomerThe Odyssey: (penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) by Bernard Homer

The Odyssey: (penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

byBernard HomerTranslated byRobert FaglesIntroduction byBernard Knox

Paperback | November 1, 1997

Pricing and Purchase Info

$22.09 online 
$24.00 list price save 7%
Earn 110 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Available in stores


The great epic of Western literature, translated by the acclaimed classicist Robert Fagles
Robert Fagles, winner of the PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation and a 1996 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, presents us with Homer's best-loved and most accessible poem in a stunning modern-verse translation. "Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns driven time and again off course, once he had plundered the hallowed heights of Troy." So begins Robert Fagles' magnificent translation of the Odyssey, which Jasper Griffin in the New York Times Book Review hails as "a distinguished achievement."

If the Iliad is the world's greatest war epic, the Odyssey is literature's grandest evocation of an everyman's journey through life. Odysseus' reliance on his wit and wiliness for survival in his encounters with divine and natural forces during his ten-year voyage home to Ithaca after the Trojan War is at once a timeless human story and an individual test of moral endurance. In the myths and legends  retold here,

Fagles has captured the energy and poetry of Homer's original in a bold, contemporary idiom, and given us an Odyssey to read aloud, to savor, and to treasure for its sheer lyrical mastery. Renowned classicist Bernard Knox's superb introduction and textual commentary provide insightful background information for the general reader and scholar alike, intensifying the strength of Fagles's translation. This is an Odyssey to delight both the classicist and the general reader, to captivate a new generation of Homer's students. This Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition features French flaps and deckle-edged paper.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Homer was probably born around 725BC on the Coast of Asia Minor, now the coast of Turkey, but then really a part of Greece. Homer was the first Greek writer whose work survives. He was one of a long line of bards, or poets, who worked in the oral tradition. Homer and other bards of the time could recite, or chant, long epic poems. Both...
Title:The Odyssey: (penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)Format:PaperbackDimensions:560 pages, 8.5 × 5.7 × 1.4 inPublished:November 1, 1997Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0140268863

ISBN - 13:9780140268867

Look for similar items by category:


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very detailed!!! I have read this several times. Very long but very engaging. You will enjoy this as much as I did.
Date published: 2018-01-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from great easy to read translation of a classic
Date published: 2017-11-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great read! I bought this book for a class I had and it was beautifully translated.
Date published: 2017-11-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent book Great classic, definitely worth the read. Awesome story and captivating for all ages.
Date published: 2017-06-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from great love this edition, an important read
Date published: 2017-05-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Imaginative A dense read, but definitely worth it! It is full of adventure and creative prose. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-03-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Classical tradition continues The Fagles translation is excellent. This read is a Classic. It is a tough read, but you will enjoy it.
Date published: 2017-02-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A classic! (But also tough to read through) The formatting and translation does the epic justice, but reading it for the first time I still found the language of the time period difficult to get through.
Date published: 2017-01-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Classic book If you are into texts of this era, this is one of the best around. There is no surprise as to why this is regarded as a classic.
Date published: 2017-01-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Classic Excellent tale of a hero's awesome journey home, complete with God's and monsters alike.
Date published: 2016-11-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good translation #plumreview Along with Iliad, one of the original classic of Western civilization, The Odyssey has maintained an interesting hold on readers throughout many centuries. This translation is very easy to understood for today's time, if possibly losing a bit of the poetic qualities of other translations.
Date published: 2016-11-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Three Millennia Later, still enchanting... Homer’s “Odyssey” is perhaps the most famous book ever written. It is certainly one of the most admired books of all time, perhaps only after Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.” For some peculiarly unknowable reason this simple tale of a man in search of his familial happiness is touching and captivating. Odysseus, a valiant hero and king of Ithaca, has yet to return home ten years after the Trojan War; alas, his path will be more irksome than he could have imagined. And in search of his wife and son, he will find the true nature of humanity that is not as he had imagined. There are several translations of Homer, and in University, we are recommended to read Lattimore translation. I will, however, highly recommend old Samuel Butler’s translations of both “Odyssey” and “Iliad.” They are beautifully lucid and sublime. As for “Odyssey,” there are some works that are not in need elaborations with purple passages. This insatiable appetite of people devouring this work is itself a testament of its relevancy and beauty.
Date published: 2012-12-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Odyssey: A Lowly Beggar's Base Reflections by Luke Strople The ultimate man book. Seriously. It strikes you the minute Penelope comes out of her chamber, to find her long lost husband standing in his court victorious after an agonizing twenty-year absence. He could have stayed with the sexy nymph Callisto, in comfort and un-aging until the end of time. He could have let those pompous uninvited suitors eat all his food, trample his holdings, murder his son and ultimately, sail away with the hand of his grief-stricken wife in dishonourable remarriage. But to utilize one of Homer's own epithets, Odyseus is a crafty man - a man of war - and he will brook none of that jazz. The Odyssey is every man's fantasy: to strive against the gods and nature with nothing but your own strength and cunning. To encounter flesh-eating mythical beasts such as the multi-necked horror of Scylla perched deep in her cave above a sheer insurmountable pinnacle. Or the ill-mannered, self-pitying Cyclops in his massive inescapable abode. To pillage and plunder homeward across a storm-tossed sea in the aftermath of a war well fought. To arrive after all these incredible travails, massacre every last one of those conniving, collar-popping fratboys who have infested your house and tried to score with your wife, even as she's grieved over your ambiguous demise. I think that every man dreams of meeting a Penelope. A woman who can reckognize a cabal of spineless, lustful half-wits when they come knocking at her door; asking her to party. A woman who'll thank you after twenty years of hardship with a night of enthusiastic lovemaking, once you've kicked down your door, stained the Ikea tablecloth with the blood of your enemies and strung up the gossiping neighbours on wires for their scandalous chattering insolence. Needless to say, there's a reason that this epic has enjoyed the popularity it has for five thousand years or so. I enjoyed every page of it.
Date published: 2009-07-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Heroic Effort for the Modern Age What a wonderful book! It flowed beautifully. While I have not read any other translations, this one was very accessible. The introduction was extremely helpful- rather than being long-winded. I could not put this book down. Robert Fagles' translation is sure to renew interest in the classics for a new generation.
Date published: 2005-04-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from average the translation is too easy, it has loss all its meanings
Date published: 2004-12-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from this is a good book! This book changed my life! It made me realy take my time reading it, trying to catch every word I read. This book is the best fantacy book i have every read. I told all of my friends about it. They all enjoyed it to! You don't have to be an adult to read this book either i am only 13. So if you like fantacy novels buy this one it fills that emty space in your mind.
Date published: 2000-09-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Awesome I had to read this book for English. At first I complained about how long and boring it was, but I began to like it. There is alot of action in this book. I recommend it to all audiences.
Date published: 2000-02-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Odyssey This is by far the best translation that I have read of this timeless classic. It brings the story of the wanderings of Odysseus to life for the modern reader. Fagles avoids using the archaic language that many of the other translators tend to favour. This, along with the fact that his verse reads like prose, makes this edition very readable. In my opinion Fagles’ translation surpasses those of Lattimore, Fitzgerald and Rieu.
Date published: 1999-09-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Odyssey sweeps you away Joseph Campbell, one of the foremost contemporary scholars of mythology, described the experience of myth as making us “feel the rapture of being alive." After reading a new translation of Homer’s The Odyssey by Robert Fagles, I couldn’t agree more. Reading this new version of this Greek Classic became a form of spiritual reflection and personal inspiration. Reading this new version of this Greek Classic became a form of spiritual reflection and personal inspiration. Although The Odyssey is a poem of 12,109 lines of verse, Robert Fagles’ translation is a smooth read. If the idea of an eighth century B.C. epic poem scares you away, rest assured that the language translated by Fagles is plain and accessible. At times the language expresses humility and respect for the earth and its surroundings (“Dawn rose on her golden throne”). At others, the words rage with anger and violence (“in the thick of slaughtered corpses, splattered with bloody filth like a lion that’s devoured some ox in a field . . .”). It is poetry with a timeless and exciting plot.
Date published: 1999-07-27

Read from the Book

IAthene Visits TelemachusTell me, Muse, the story of that resourceful man who was driven to wander far and wide after he had sacked the holy citadel of Troy. He saw the cities of many people and he learnt their ways. He suffered great anguish on the high seas in his struggles to preserve his life and bring his comrades home. But he failed to save those comrades, in spite of all his efforts. It was their own transgression that brought them to their doom, for in their folly they devoured the oxen of Hyperion the Sun-god and he saw to it that they would never return. Tell us this story, goddess daughter of Zeus, beginning at whatever point you will.All the survivors of the war had reached their homes by now and so put the perils of battle and the sea behind them. Odysseus alone was prevented from returning to the home and wife he yearned for by that powerful goddess, the Nymph Calypso, who longed for him to marry her, and kept him in her vaulted cave. Not even when the rolling seasons brought in the year which the gods had chosen for his homecoming to Ithaca was he clear of his troubles and safe among his friends. Yet all the gods pitied him, except Poseidon, who pursued the heroic Odysseus with relentless malice till the day when he reached his own country.Poseidon, however, was now gone on a visit to the distant Ethiopians, in the most remote part of the world, half of whom live where the Sun goes down, and half where he rises. He had gone to accept a sacrifice of bulls and rams, and there he sat and enjoyed the pleasures of the feast. Meanwhile the rest of the gods had assembled in the palace of Olympian Zeus, and the Father of men and gods opened a discussion among them. He had been thinking of the handsome Aegisthus, whom Agamemnon’s far-famed son Orestes killed; and it was with Aegisthus in his mind that Zeus now addressed the immortals:‘What a lamentable thing it is that men should blame the gods and regard us as the source of their troubles, when it is their own transgressions which bring them suffering that was not their destiny. Consider Aegisthus: it was not his destiny to steal Agamemnon’s wife and murder her husband when he came home. He knew the result would be utter disaster, since we ourselves had sent Hermes, the keen-eyed Giant-slayer, to warn him neither to kill the man nor to court his wife. For Orestes, as Hermes told him, was bound to avenge Agamemnon as soon as he grew up and thought with longing of his home. Yet with all his friendly counsel Hermes failed to dissuade him. And now Aegisthus has paid the final price for all his sins.’

Table of Contents

The OdysseyIntroduction

The Spelling and Pronunciation of Homeris Names
1. Homeric Geography: Mainland Greece
2. Homeric Geography: The Peloponnese
3. Homeric Geography: The Aegean and Asia Minor

Homer: The Odyssey
Book 1: Athena Inspires the Prince
Book 2: Telemachus Sets Sail
Book 3: King Nestor Remembers
Book 4: The King and Queen of Sparta
Book 5: Odysseus-Nymph and Shipwreck
Book 6: The Princess and the Stranger
Book 7: Phaeacia's Halls and Gardens
Book 8: A Day for Songs and Contests
Book 9: In the One-Eyed Giant's Cave
Book 10: The Bewitched Queen of Aeaea
Book 11: The Kingdom of the Dead
Book 12: The Cattle of the Sun
Book 13: Ithaca at Last
Book 14: The Loyal Swineherd
Book 15: The Prince Sets Sail for Home
Book 16: Father and Son
Book 17: Stranger at the Gates
Book 18: The Beggar-King of Ithaca
Book 19: Penelope and her Guest
Book 20: Portents Gather
Book 21: Odysseus Stings his Bow
Book 22: Slaughter in the Hall
Book 23: The Great Rooted Bed
Book 24: Peace

Translator's Postscript
Textual Variants from the Oxford Classical Text
Notes on the Translation
Suggestions for Further Reading
Pronouncing Glossary

Bookclub Guide

INTRODUCTIONThe Iliad and the Odyssey can be found on every list of the world's greatest books. From the beginning of Western literature, readers have appreciated these two epic poems for their ability to make us reflect on the full range of human concerns and emotions as well as for sheer entertainment. The influence of these poems on the work of other writers is so pervasive that to be familiar with the characters, themes, and episodes of the Iliad and the Odyssey is to be familiar with some of the most significant motifs of subsequent literature.Each poem is dominated by an extraordinary man and his fate. Though the stories are self-contained, the brief, brilliant life of the warrior Achilles at Troy in the Iliad contrasts sharply with the endurance of long-suffering Odysseus. While Achilles excels on the battlefield, Odysseus is the strategist, manipulating circumstances to the best advantage, moving behind and through the scenes as a diplomat and trickster. We see in the Odyssey these characteristics flourish not only in making war; they are also critical in the multifarious world beyond the battlefield and its clear-cut ranks of adversaries.When Odysseus and Achilles meet in the House of the Dead, in the exact middle of the Odyssey, the contrast between them is stunning. The living Odysseus has risked his life to come to this place beyond all earthly boundaries in order to acquire the knowledge to complete his journey home. The shade of Achilles is despondent, deprived of the narrow arena of war by which he was defined and his fame was secured. Each hero has sought happiness through action in different ways—Achilles in a concentrated blaze of glory, sacrificing youth and life for fame that will last forever; Odysseus by striving to experience the full range of possible worlds. When Homer has them meet in the House of the Dead, the place of final resolution for all mortals, he seems to be asking us to consider a fundamental question: What is happiness, and what kind of life is conducive to it?Choose any prominent theme in the Odyssey—fathers and sons; the relationships of men and women, especially husbands and wives; the responsibilities of leadership; piety; the obligations and transgressions of hosts and guests; the relation between revenge and justice—and it is possible to chart a course through the entire book with that particular theme in mind. However, each thread of the story is woven with so many others that focusing on one soon brings into view the entire warp and weft of the story's fabric. Like its hero, Odysseus, and its heroine, Penelope, the Odyssey eludes attempts to reduce it to a few simple meanings, less because it is so ambiguous than because it is so complex.In essence, the story of Odysseus is straightforward. A veteran of a long war, ten years away from his wife, son, and realm, he sets out to return home with his men. As the result of calamities, some brought on by himself and others beyond his control, he wanders for ten more years, along the way experiencing the breadth and depth of the world. Finally, after his men are lost, he is alone. At last he returns, kills the unwelcome guests who have laid waste his wealth and besieged his wife, seeking to marry her; resumes his role as father, husband, and son; makes peace in his kingdom; and then drops from sight as the poem abruptly comes to a stop, if not an ending.The way the story is told, however, is anything but straightforward. Even the "man of twists and turns" announced as the protagonist in the first line of the poem is not identified by name until twenty-three lines later. There are stories whose truth lies in their directness; others, in their oblique approach. The Odyssey proceeds by indirection, like the many tall tales Odysseus tells to gain credibility among strangers, and even among those closest to him. Through flashbacks, simultaneous events, reminiscences, narratives by those whose stories have no witnesses, through rumor and legend, the Odyssey moves toward the single-minded goal of its central character—homecoming and reunion. The structure of the poem seems to emphasize that no homecoming is straightforward, and that every return raises complex questions about what has changed and what has remained the same—for both the one who returns and those who remained at home. What, we may ask, remains the essence of the "man of twists and turns" that allows him to maintain his identity as Odysseus?This indirection reaches its pinnacle in the lengthy Book 19, during the conversation between the disguised Odysseus and his wife, Penelope. In the middle of Odysseus' invented autobiography, which touches her deeply enough to make her weep, the narrator interjects, "Falsehoods all,/ but he gave his falsehoods all the ring of truth" (p. 397). Her feeling for the stranger is strong before she even knows that he is her husband. On the surface, Odysseus' way of approaching Penelope after so many years is strategic; if he were to reveal himself too soon, he would risk failure in ridding his household of her suitors. More than that, he seems to be a suitor himself, winning again Penelope's love and loyalty because of what he is, not who he is. The facts of his tale are false; the sentiment is true. At the end of Book 19, as if by intuition, Penelope proposes a way to resolve the predicament of her unwelcome suitors—the contest of the bow and targets, which only Odysseus is likely to win. Has she recognized Odysseus? Homer is silent on this point, as if to make us ask ourselves where truth lies and how our shifting interpretations of fact and evidence can bring certainty and settlement.ABOUT HOMERNothing certain is known about Homer. By the time of the Greek classical age—the fifth century B.C.—there was already a widespread belief that he was the blind, inspired author of both the Iliad and the Odyssey and that he had lived somewhere in the island culture of Asia Minor two or three hundred years earlier. The events depicted in the two epic poems were thought to have occurred several hundred years before Homer's lifetime. The Iliad and the Odyssey were considered fundamental writings at the time of Plato, and they frequently received dramatic public recitations. In addition, the poems were held to exemplify the ideals of virtuous behavior, civic duty, and religious piety on which all education should be based.However, even in ancient times, there were dissenting opinions. A few scholars believed that Homer was fictional and that the two epics were composed by different authors. Later, others questioned whether Homer was the author or merely the editor or scribe who first wrote down the poems, organizing a long oral tradition. Even the language of Homer obscured his identity: he composed in a highly stylized form of Greek that was not known to be particular to any geographical region, but conveyed the stories of Achilles and Odysseus in an elaborate and flexible poetic meter. Modern scholars have enriched the debate with intricate theories about how oral poetry is memorized and transmitted through many generations of reciters, opening up the possibility that the Homeric epics are not the creation of an individual author, in our contemporary understanding of the word "author."What transcends all the differing opinions concerning the identity of Homer is the remarkable interwoven complexity and profound consistency of the two epic poems themselves.At the very beginning of the long sequence of political and cultural development commonly referred to as Western civilization, the Iliad and the Odyssey powerfully and coherently delineated the narrative patterns that literature has adopted ever since to convey the meaning of human experience.DISCUSSION QUESTIONSSince Athena knows that Odysseus is alive, why doesn't she tell Telemachus, rather than sending him "in quest of news of your long-lost father"? (p. 86) When she and Menelaus tell their stories about past times in Troy and the missing Odysseus, Helen drugs the wine so no one will feel any pain. Are we to think that she is wise or unwise in doing so? Why does Odysseus reject Calypso's offer of immortality? In Phaeacia, why doesn't Odysseus immediately identify himself to Alcinous and Arete? In telling the story of the Cyclops, Odysseus says that he led some of his men to their deaths and then further endangered the rest of his crew by taunting Polyphemus as they escaped by boat. Since there are no other witnesses present when he tells this story, why does Odysseus show himself in such an unfavorable light? How are the fate and death of Odysseus, as prophesied by Tiresias, different from those of Agamemnon and Achilles, both of whom Odysseus meets in the House of the Dead? Why does Odysseus tell such long, elaborate, untrue stories about his life to introduce himself to Athena, Eumaeus, and Penelope? Are the stories in some sense truthful? Why doesn't Penelope bring the suitors' courting to an end when she knows for certain that they have plotted to murder Telemachus? Does Odysseus mean to warn Amphinomus about his plan to kill the suitors so that he can save himself? Why has Athena nevertheless "bound him fast to death"? (p. 381) Why doesn't Odysseus explicitly reveal himself to Penelope before proceeding with his plans? Why does Telemachus hang the serving women "so all might die a pitiful, ghastly death" (p. 454) instead of killing them as his father prescribes, cleanly with swords? Why does Odysseus think it best to probe and test his aged father Laertes in every way, instead of revealing himself at once?FOR FURTHER REFLECTIONAt the beginning of the Odyssey, we are told that Odysseus suffered much on his long journey homeward. How much of his suffering was the result of his own choices and how much was beyond his control? How are the two distinguished? Odysseus has been absent from Ithaca for twenty years. What must he do to reclaim his standing as king, husband, and father, beyond killing the suitors? In returning home after a long absence, how can there be a balance between how we are remembered and what we have become?RELATED TITLES* C.P. Cavafy, "Ithaka" (1911)Writing at the beginning of the twentieth century, this Alexandrian poet interprets the meaning of Odysseus' wanderings and, by implication, that of all human wanderings.* Dante, Inferno, Canto XXVI (1321)Consigned in Dante's Hell to the region in which the sin of fraud is punished, Ulysses (Odysseus) tells of his last overreaching voyage, extending the Homeric story.Homer, The IliadThe epic story of the warrior Achilles' all-consuming anger and its consequences for both his fellow Greeks and for the Trojans defending their city. A profound depiction of the meaning of heroic human achievement in a world of war and strife, the Iliad is the essential complement to the Odyssey, showing Odysseus in his role of soldier, commander, and diplomat.James Joyce, Ulysses (1922)Like Odysseus, the protagonist of Joyce's novel, Leopold Bloom, undertakes a complex journey consisting of encounters that test his sense of personal identity and his resolution to restore his domestic life with his wife, Molly. In innovative, many-layered language that captures the inner life of its early twentieth-century Dublin characters, Joyce encompasses two millennia of Western literary tradition, beginning with Homer.* Alfred Lord Tennyson, "Ulysses"; "The Lotos-Eaters" (1842)The Victorian poet expands on Homer's episodes and comments on the temptations of forgetfulness and enervation, emphasizing the insatiable restlessness of Ulysses (Odysseus).Virgil, The AeneidModeled on Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, this grand Latin epic poem follows the Trojan hero Aeneas from the destruction of his city by the Greeks to his invasion of the Italian peninsula and the founding of Rome. Superficially a glorification of Roman imperial ambitions, The Aeneid is also a subtle critique of personal and public responsibilities and the costs of great political dominance.Derek Walcott, Omeros (1990)Imagining the journeys of a present-day Odysseus in the postcolonial world of the Caribbean, the 1992 Nobel Laureate's epic poem is an exploration of cultural identity and a meditation on the persistence of suffering and displacement.* Cavafy's "Ithaca," Canto XXVI of Dante's Inferno, and Tennyson's "Ulysses" and "The Lotos-Eaters" are all based on, and implicitly comment on, the story and characters of Homer's Odyssey. Read together, these poems challenge us to reflect further on the nature of Odysseus and his journey.

From Our Editors

Though Odysseus, the mythic king of Ithaca, survives the Trojan War, he has evoked the wrath of Poseidon and it's 10 long years before he safely returns home. Considered a masterpiece, The Odyssey is Homer's magnificent, epic poem that chronicles the thrilling adventures experienced by the Greek king as he encounters both natural and divine obstacles. Discover the exciting world of adventure, love, sensual pleasure, food and drink, and thrilling danger in this classic. This superb translation features an introduction and notes by Bernard Knox.

Editorial Reviews

“[Robert Fitzgerald’s translation is] a masterpiece . . . An Odyssey worthy of the original.” –The Nation “[Fitzgerald’s Odyssey and Iliad] open up once more the unique greatness of Homer’s art at the level above the formula; yet at the same time they do not neglect the brilliant texture of Homeric verse at the level of the line and the phrase.” –The Yale Review “[In] Robert Fitzgerald’s translation . . . there is no anxious straining after mighty effects, but rather a constant readiness for what the occasion demands, a kind of Odyssean adequacy to the task in hand, and this line-by-line vigilance builds up into a completely credible imagined world.” –from the Introduction by Seamus Heaney