Monday, August 11, 2008

The Odyssey by Homer

Source: Youngstown State University, English 2610
Length: Approx 11 hrs.
Reader: Thomas Copeland

The book: As one of the oldest narratives in literature, the Odyssey has rightfully gained a place near the top of the Western canon. Having a passing knowledge of mythology, I expected the epic to be about Odysseus's wanderings and adventures across the Mediterranean Sea between leaving Troy and returning home. In actuality, the main focus of the story is Odysseus's homecoming. The story of his journeys, including all the famous episodes about the cyclopes, the sirens, Scylla and Charybdis, are told in a flashback comprising only a few chapters of the entire tale.

I found the epic to be neither the rousing adventure that I had hoped for nor the boring lists of ancestors that I had feared. There are moments of both excitement and tedium in the story. Reflecting its origins as an oral tale, stories such as Penelope's weaving get repeated multiple times so that by the third or fourth retelling, I wanted to fast-forward the recording. However, the influence of the work is undeniable and having listened to the entire epic rather than the summaries I had read before, I now have a better understanding of other books I have read. I would recommend the Odyssey to others as a book to be appreciated best after one is finished rather than a page-turner for those just looking for entertainment.

Rating: 7/10

The reader: The reader conveys the poetic form of the work, giving the epic a rhythm that is not overstated, but natural as waves on a beach. Professor Copeland apparently knows his Greek, as he pronounces the names and places without difficulty. He seems to favor what is apparently the ancient Greek pronunciations, such as cyclopes with a hard /k/ sound rather than the more familiar /s/. He puts inflection into the conversations, making this sometimes difficult epic easier to understand, since Homer often uses sarcasm which can be easily misinterpreted by the uninitiated. Unfortunately, the audio quality is often quite bad, with plenty of background noise, page turning, and a train whistle in some later chapters. However, Copeland's voice is always understandable and the minor annoyances can be ignored.

No comments: