Odyssey RAL – update 1

Odyssey read-alongPlethora wrote an really good background post for the Odyssey, and particularly about the stories that connect the Illiad and the Odyssey. Go read it!

I haven’t quite started reading the Odyssey yet, but I started with the introduction. The translation I will be reading is by Samuel Butler, and the introduction is his as well. Now, apparently mr. Butler caused quite a stir back in the 20s… by suggesting the Odyssey was in fact written by a young woman. (I can just hear those ‘gasps of shock and horror’ through the time vortex haha)

I went and picked up Butler’s The Authoress of the Odyssey at the library to dig into this idea more. You can also read the book here if you’re interested!

Despite the controversy, Butler’s translation seems to be reasonably well regarded. He translated the Odyssey into prose, but seemed to have kept a poetic vibe in his translation. But definitely not the usual go-to translation, like Fitzgerald or Fagles… We’ll see if I’m going to regret this or not πŸ˜‰

I can’t wait to get started!

On another note: As I picked up the book, I was wondering: what should I really read first?The Illiad or The Odyssey? Reading them in that order would be chronologically correct, but the Odyssey seems to be the more accessible epic. One way or another, I plan to definitely read the Illiad sometime in the future πŸ™‚


  1. Thank you for taking the time to do your own background post. I realized I forgot to add the Linkity Link button to the bottom of my post. I went back and added that so you can hop over and add a link so others can find your post easier.

    It is usually quite interesting to compare translations, so no worries.

    I fumbled a bit by leaving this on my 20 spin list, as I would have rather read The Iliad first, but I don’t think it is really necessary as long as you have an idea of the Iliad events. While it is a sequel, I don’t think it has the same series carry over as we would normally apply today to books in a series. I am planning on reading the Iliad in a few month.

    • C.

      Added my post, thanks!

      I agree, I also think reading different translations is really interesting! Personally I prefer prose over poetry so in that sense I’m happy that my edition happens to be a prose translation. But even so I want to read bits and pieces of another translation sometime in the future πŸ™‚ So I’m looking forward to your comments!

      I have a pretty good idea of the Iliad so that’s why I joined your read-along anyway πŸ™‚ If you’re going to read the Iliad in the future and make it another read-along, I might join you again πŸ˜‰

  2. It’s always difficult when choosing translations. I was going to read Fitzgerald this time but I went back to my trusty Lattimore, who is just excellent! His wording is so beautiful.

    Just be aware, Butler used the Roman names for the gods (weird choice, in a Greek epic, but I get the feeling Butler was an unusual guy), so your names will be different from ours. I’m assuming his choice to use the Roman names is because he thinks the poem was written in Sicily.

    It also looks like he takes some liberties in combining information from the original and the Epic Cycles, but for our purposes, it’s not a problem because the information is true. From what I’ve read, this poem was not an easy translation exercise! :-Z

    The Iliad was my favourite …… I hope you’ll love it as much as I do!

    I’m looking forward to doing the read-along with you!

    • C.

      I decided to get Lattimore’s translation too, to keep it next to Butler’s when needed πŸ™‚ I must say I love comparing the two! Butler’s translation so far doesn’t disappoint, but neither does Lattimore’s. I’m not a big fan of poetry but his translation makes it a really pleasant read!

      Since my edition of the Odyssey is quite recent (Barnes & Noble leatherbound), it seems they switched the names back to the Greek ones. So it’s Butler’s translation, but with the Greek names. Thankfully that saves some confusion (but makes the edition sound rather shady I guess XD)

      I finished reading Book I and II this weekend and I must say, it’s a really good read so far! I can’t wait to read on πŸ˜€

      • I don’t know much about Butler but from what I’ve read about him personally, he seems like he may have some wild ideas that he wouldn’t hesitate to bring to his writing, which kind of makes me (personally) a little nervous. That said, I’m planning to read The Odyssey a number of times (I love Greek Literature) so I’ll probably read him at some point. It’s great you have Lattimore for comparison. If I had more time, I’d like to read Fitzgerald alongside, but sadly I can’t this time. That’s good that the names were changed back to Greek. The last thing you want to be doing is memorizing names for Greek and Roman gods before you’re able to start! :-Z

        Glad you’re enjoying it. I’m surprised that it’s such an easy read this time through.

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