001-2020 Odyssey

Title: The Odyssey

Author: Homer (translated by W. H. D. Rouse)

One terrific role that Sean Bean also portrayed was Odyssey in the film ‘Troy’. In fact, when I read the book I pictured him being the character in the story line.

Other than in the film ‘Troy’ I had read two other books, both from Madeline Miller (The Song of Achilles, and Circe) in which Odyssey was also featured as a prominent character. This brought me to research if there was a book written of the story of Odyssey, and that is what now leads to the book review.

He is a prominent, clever and heroic mythical Greek who rules over the kingdom of Ithaca, and has one son (Telemachos) with his wife Penelopeia, and is then summoned by King Agamemnon and Menelaos to fight against the Trojans for the wrongs committed by Paris and Helena (wife of Menelaos). That is where the great 10 Year war takes place, until finally the Greeks overrun the Trojans with the ingenious idea of Odyssey to build a large wooden horse, dubbed the Trojan Horse. The book doesn’t take place in the war, but rather after the war what Odyssey encounters in his travels to get home to his kingdom.

In fact, it would be almost another decade after the war before he finally returns home. He didn’t offer proper sacrifices to the gods, and had insulted one of the mighty gods’ children (Poseidon’s son, a cyclops), which resulted in his ship being redirected on the ocean, him performing some tasks and meeting Circe, and finally losing his ship to the ocean and being stranded on a island of a goddess (daughter of Oceanos).

Eventually he does return home, but then at home some intruders await, and with the help of his son, and goddess Athena, he removes them from his home, and finally can live his life further.

What kept me stuck to the story is how the Greek gods become involved with the mortal lives, and sometimes help them, or give them an ultimatum of what will come to pass should they not take a certain decision. And also the lessons that some of the tasks bring with them.

This is my fourth Greek Mythology book, and every time I become more and more hooked to them.

Summary

The translation by the author of the Homeric text to English was well done. The link he makes to the Trojan war lines up very well. However, there are a few areas where some characters of the Trojan War story don’t line up with the story of the characters of the film ‘Troy’. Examples are King Agamemnon, Menelaos and Helena. Nevertheless, the adventure that Odyssey goes through after the Trojan War, and how he makes amends and is finally permitted to get back home is fun to follow, and, you learn a little bit of ‘history/mythology’ in the process. The rating I like to award is 4.9/5

009-2019 Mythos

Title: Mythos – The Greek myths retold

Author: Stephen Fry

While it is still fresh in mind I believe this to be the best moment to tell you a little of a book I managed to finish this afternoon.

As you can see above, the book I’m referring to is ‘Mythos’. My fascination with the Greek history (or mythology rather) started when I first saw the movie of Troy. How Achilles, son of a mortal king and a sea nymph was to become a hero in the overthrow of the city of Troy. After the movie I carried on with my life, as one does, and then a few years later I came across a book called ‘Circe’ by Madeline Miller, which tells the story of one offspring of Helios. Once I finished that off I saw that she had written another book as well before this book ‘The Song of Achilles’. I added this to my collection, and that ultimately was the hook that led me to want to know more of the Greek Mythology.

What the book offers isn’t just one story line of one character (as with Circe or Song of Achilles, which were both terrific books as well), but rather the story of creation.

Everything started off from ‘chaos’ and became to what is known to us today (if it is Greek mythology that you believe in). In a way it has a big-bang element to it, where at first there was nothing, and then suddenly, slowly, some things came to being, from which came more and more and more.

As noted, it all started with ‘chaos’, then came the first and second order of beings, know also later as titans, then the gods. The gods then had a huge war with the titans (those that didn’t side with the gods), and they became the new rulers. Or first rulers, because at first the titans (before Kronos) only lived together, with not really one ruling party over all, but merely all ruling over their own domains.

However, I have already said too much, and you should rather read this up yourself.

Jumping ahead, the book teaches us how the 12 rulers of Olympus came about, how some of the gods and titans spent some of their lives, and also their interactions with different humans in different ages.

What I wish to emphasize is that the book is full of lessons, as much as it tells a story. I enjoyed the stories/myths very much, but also have gained by learning some wisdom from the mistakes that some have made in the book. Yes, even the perfect gods in the book were not without their flaws, and so you can walk away with some great insight.

Even if you simply just want to read another entertaining book, this will definitely fulfill that purpose. And, you who knows, maybe you will want to know even more after you turned the last page.

Rating:

The book gives a solid introduction from the very beginning of how everything came to be. It gives us insight as to why certain animals, plants and other things have the name attached to them. It is very entertaining, and gives also some great lessons to some of the characters’ lives. The book is well written, and won’t lose the reader in any chapter, because it doesn’t jump around too much from one story to another, but rather starts with the foundation, and progresses as the events happened. The book deserves a strong 5/5 for what it offers the reader.