Homers Odyssey | Chapter 4 of 54

Author: Homer | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 889581 Views | Add a Review

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INTRODUCTION

 
 

Twenty years have passed since Odysseus sailed away to wage war against the Trojans, leaving behind his beloved wife, Penelope, and Telemachus, their infant son. The conflict itself lasts for ten of those years, but another decade of strife awaits the victorious Odysseus as he hauls home towards his kingdom of Ithaca. The Odyssey is the story of that homeward journey, a journey which tests the resources and strength of its hero to breaking point. In his way stand cannibals and whirlpools, witches and ghosts, monsters and Gods. The battles he must win are battles of the body, the mind and the spirit. Homer’s Odyssey forms part of the bedrock of all written art; one of the first ever works of literature, it is a triumph of intellectual, imaginative and technical genius. Ultimately, though, it is a story, and for all its evocation of the supernatural and the otherworldly, it is a story of humankind. At its heart is a family – a husband, wife and son – desperate to reunite and determined to survive.

This dramatization was commissioned by BBC Radio 4 and broadcast over a weekend in late summer, 2004. Much of Homer’s Odyssey is written as narrated poem, and when characters do enter into discourse, it tends to be with formal speech, rather than what we might call dialogue. Faced with that situation, the role of the dramatist is to transform such narration into a series of conversations and exchanges, and to actualize some of its unspoken intentions by putting speech into characters’ mouths. In other words, to get people to talk. It would be impossible, not to mention pointless, to perform such a transformation without running a few risks and taking a few liberties. And yet the version presented here hopes never to stray too far from the content, chronology and atmosphere of the original. It is not set in a housing estate in Salford. It does not depict the Achaeans as veterans of the Gulf War or asylum-seekers, though of course we should not be surprised if the Odyssey rings with echoes and resonances of our contemporary world. Such is the power and purpose of myth.

My thanks are due to Janet Whittaker for conceiving and directing this project, and for having the honesty to tell me that two other authors initially associated with the commission subsequently passed away. Tackling these colossal old texts is a huge and daunting undertaking. On delivery of the final manuscript, I wrote on the final page, ‘Can I die now?’ Many thanks also to Peter Jones for his advice and comments. Finally, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to those ranks of scholars and authors, some of whom spent a lifetime translating the Odyssey from a twelve-thousand-line, two-and-a-half-thousand-year-old epic into the contemporary literature of their day. Of the modern translations, those by E. V. Rieu, Richmond Lattimore and Robert Fagles have inspired and illuminated the most.

One more thing. Although this version of the Odyssey was developed as a radio play and is presented here in script form, it was always in the back of my mind that it should have a further life as a piece of writing. Not just something to be performed, but something to read. A book, in fact.

    

 

Simon Armitage

Comments

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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