Review: The Odyssey by Homer

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Publication Date: -720 A.D. (November 30, 2006 – Penguin Classics)

Synopsis:
After the Trojan War, Odysseus is lost from his home and family. Already gone for ten years, he spends the next ten trying to get home and being deterred by the gods.

Back home, his son and wife are waiting for his return, trying to keep the estate whole until he comes back to them.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Date Read: November 11, 2018

Thoughts:
No surprise that this is another book I read for my Young Adult Literature class. Of all the books I’ve read for this class, this is my least favorite.

Going into this, I knew that I wasn’t going to like this very much. I’ve struggled with a lot of classics written by men, and I really struggle with reading poetry. Epic poetry was hard, even though it’s supposed to be like a story. To make it easier on me to read the whole book, I listened to the audiobook, which was narrated by Ian McKellan, while reading the book.

It’s the first time in several years that I’ve fallen asleep while reading out of boredom. The fact that it happened twice is pretty impressive. I just had a lot of trouble getting interested in the story after Telemachus stopped being the primary character we were following. Once we switched to following Odysseus, I found myself constantly bored.

There’s just something about following Odysseus on his journey back home that really bored me. Mostly, it felt like the same thing was happening over and over again with him getting into trouble and getting out of it because he’s somehow that intelligent. The way he rushed into his actions all the time and then managed to get out of it while everyone else around him suffered was absolutely ridiculous.

We had a lot of conversations about the problematic nature of The Odyssey, but it was also a lot about how much we generally had frustrations with Odysseus for everything that he was doing. If I were to re-cap all of that, this blog article could probably win NaNoWriMo. It was almost ridiculous how much we had to say about him and the things he was doing.

There were very few things that I liked about this book in general, mostly because everyone felt really annoying and the plot was really repetitive. I was glad that whoever read the rental book before me was nice enough to summarize each page at the bottom, so I could afford to zone out while reading/listening to the book. It was probably one of the only ways that I got through the end of the book.

By the time I got to the end of the book, I was just really glad to be done. I was more than happy that the book was over because it was so utterly boring and frustrating at that point. The way that Odysseus and Telemachus acted like nothing in the world could touch them, and the way that the women were portrayed to be intelligent, but less so than Odysseus, bothered me to no end. It was a wonder that I never actually chucked this across my room while reading it.

Character(s):
I absolutely hated Odysseus. Not only was he frustrating and annoying, he was also such a man-slut. Literally, he had sex with pretty much any and every woman who was interested in him, and despite all his claims of loving his wife and wanting desperately to be back with her, it didn’t stop him from gladly having sex with several other women when he had the chance. I get that “men have needs,” but really? And then he has the nerve to question his wife’s fidelity during his 20 year absence, but say nothing of all the women he slept with.

Telemachus was a lot more likable in the beginning, before he decided that being like his dad was the best thing in the world. The more that he wanted to be like Odysseus and worshipped him, the less I liked him. Then all that stuff happened in the end where he decided that he knew better than his father and had to assert himself. I was just really done with him by the time the book ended.

I did like Penelope more than her husband or son. She was smart and capable, though she did spend a lot of time crying for…very repetitive reasons. But the fact that she was portrayed as intelligent made her more likable. I didn’t like that she was still compared to her husband and seen as lesser than him because Odysseus is supposed to be a tactician rivaling the gods, but I liked that she held her own among many of the other male characters in the poem.

Overall:
2 stars. It’s just not my cup of tea and I will probably never pick up another epic poem because of how much I hated reading this one.

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