First, a note: I printed this book for myself from "The Literature Network" (directory of legal books for download)... reading on A4 is possible, it's not as bad as I thought.

Well, this is definitely a classic book. Written more than 2000 years ago, it is considered one of the greatest "epics" of all times. I can agree only partly.

On one hand, the story line is quite good. A quest of Odysseus to return home after 20 years of wandering. Troubles at home - people want someone else to marry his wife and his household can't live a normal life. After many challenges along the way he manages, with some help from the gods, to come home, kill all the offenders and reunite with his family - happy happy joy joy.

For me, the interesting part of this plot is the involvement of gods (other than that, it's a fairy tale, and I've read heaps of those when I was a kid) in the lives of the people. It seems to me that the gods manipulated mortals for pleasure. Like the ancient version of "Young and restless", etc. The gods must have been a pretty bored bunch up on their Olympus mountain, so for a bit of entertainment they played with the people's mind, devising wars, peaces, marriages, separations, and generally whatever they wanted. The book is quite violent - not much thought is applied to the value of human lives. For instance, I'm not sure it was absolutely necessary to slaughter all the "wooers" in the end. This reminds me of the same violence that appears in the Bible, where people of different religions slaughter each other without any pity (hmm... that sounds scarily familiar).

On the other hand, the writing style is very, very heavy. It's definitely the book with the most ancient style I've ever read. "Thou", "Thy", "Thee", "Hearken", "Spake", "Avow", "Didst", "Therewith", etc. I know what these words mean, it's just the first time I actually saw them used so much.

The dialogs are sometimes boring and "off the point". But the style is very different from modern: "And then X spake"..."And then Y answered"..."And then X spake"... Nowadays this is implicit.

The titles are very amusing. I'd like to hear sometimes: "And then the steadfast goodly Eli of many counsels spake winged words unto her"... LOL :-)

All in all, it's been interesting to read a Greek epic. I really like the Greek mythology, and this was a "wet excercise" - reading a novel that actually involves mythology and where everything is put to its places. The style is heavy, but there's no other way out, I guess. They spake (hehe...) this way back then, and the translation tries to reproduce it as accurately as possible.


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