“Sing to me, Muse . . .”
It has been said that a myth is a story about the way things never were but always are. The Odyssey is the original hero’s journey, an epic voyage into the unknown, and has inspired other creative work for millennia—from ancient poetry to contemporary fiction and films. With its consummately modern hero, full of guile and wit, always prepared to reinvent himself in order to realize his heart’s desire—to return to home and family after ten years of war—the Odyssey now speaks to us again across 2,600 years.
In words of great poetic power, Stephen Mitchell’s translation brings Odysseus and his adventures vividly to life as never before. Full of imagination and light, beauty and humor, this Odyssey carries you along in a fast stream of action and imagery. One-eyed maneating giants; irresistibly seductive sirens; shipwrecks and narrow escapes; princesses and monsters; ghosts sipping blood at the Underworld’s portal, desperate for a chance to speak to the living; and the final destruction of all Odysseus’s enemies in the banquet hall—these stories are still spellbinding today. So, too, are the intimate moments of storytelling by the fire, of homecoming and reunion, fidelity and love—all of greater value to Odysseus, and to us, than the promise of immortality.
Just as Mitchell “re-energised the Iliad for a new generation” (The Sunday Telegraph), his Odyssey is the noblest, clearest, and most captivating rendition of one of the defining masterpieces of Western literature. Mitchell’s muscular language keeps the diction close to spoken English, yet its rhythms re-create the oceanic surge of the ancient Greek.
The first translation to benefit from modern advances in textual scholarship, Mitchell’s Odyssey also includes an illuminating introductory essay that opens the epic still further to our understanding and appreciation and textual notes that will benefit all readers. Beautiful, musical, accurate, and alive, this new Odyssey is a story for our time as well as for the ages.