Odysseus taunts Polyphemus
Image from litmuse used under a Creative Commons license.

Homer, The Odyssey (Penguin Classics, 1999).
The epic poem attributed to Homer should need no recommendation — it is a, uh, classic.  I read the edition translated by Robert Fagles, and I just loved it. The introduction by Bernard Knox is quite useful, and this edition helpfully includes maps showing the locations of various places mentioned in the text.  A trip to Greece seems like just the excuse to read this, and don’t feel you need to read The Iliad first.

Perhaps this is as close as we’ll ever get to a bio of Homer.  On the other hand, Ranjit Bolt reviews a recent biography of Homer, and here is the estimable Mary Beard on the same book.  Here is Wikipedia’s page about Fagles.  Zack Stentz interviewed Fagles upon the book’s release.  David Meadows has his obituary; here is Ruth Stevens at Princeton.  Wikipedia’s entry on The Odyssey has much to offer.  Chrees collected a bunch of interesting resources, including this lecture by Ian Johnston. Google Book Search previews the Fagles translation. Here is Samuel Butler’s translation. Google Book Search offers a taste of a 1905 translation by J.W. MacKail.  Or, if you prefer, here is Simon Armitage’s more recent dramatic version.  From Southern Utah University, here is an introduction to Homer and The Odyssey.  Richard Jenkyns (The New York Times) calls this translation a memorable achievement.  David R. Slavitt (Bryn Mawr Classical Review)applauds Fagles’ stately and natural voice.  Rebecca Reid liked the Fagles translation but didn’t love it.  Paul Gray (Time) writes that Fagles vividly conveys the sense of stories being read aloud.  Calon Lan calls it a story for all time. Stephen Goode (Insight on the News) says it’s hard to put down. James Higgs prefers it to other translations.Jon Aquino says people thinks it’s one of the best translations.  Matt Cahill says it will intimidate you from the shelf but it moves at a fast clip. Riz listened to Ian McKellan’s narration. Alexander Nazaryan blogs about wine in The Odyssey. Here is an astronomical perspective. Elizabeth Farnsworth interviewed Fagles for PBS’s NewsHour, and Fagles answered viewers’ questions.  You can listen to this conversation between Fagles and C.K. Williams, or read excerpts of it.  This is how the book would read had it been written on Twitter.  Listen to this BBC program on The Odyssey.

Buy it at Amazon.com.