Translating The ODYSSEY
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A NEW TRANSLATION by RODNEY MERRILL
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COVER: ODYSSEUS AND THE SIRENS

Rodney Merrill's new translation of the Odyssey, published by the University of Michigan Press (click on the picture to go to the Press's website) aims to convey the oral character of the original work, which was composed before writing arrived in the Greek world. His English version of the strong and regular rhythm of the Greek verse makes enjoyable the repetitions--formulae, lines, whole passages--of which much of the epic is comprised. Thus it captures the aural music of the work and takes the modern reader or listener closer to the original experience of the sung, chanted, or recited performances of the bards and the "rhapsodes" at the ancient Greek festivals. Introductions by Prof. Thomas R. Walsh and the translator discuss the genesis and transmission of the epic and show how oral performance shaped its form, narrative, and themes. The translator's performance on an audiobook, available from the Press, conveys the power and drama of this great narrative.

Odysseus' home island, Ithaka, looms large in the epic and in the curiosity of its hearers and readers. The sites shown here represent good guesses about where Odysseus and Penelope lived, where his father Laërtes stayed, where Eumaíos the swineherd kept his pigs, and a few other places important to the story. Perhaps more important than particular locations is the austere beauty of the whole island, which the map can only suggest--the way the sea comes into the land in bays and coves, the way the mountains give wide views both of land and of sea. No wonder Odysseus and his family loved it so much.

ITHAKA
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IMPORTANT PLACES ON ODYSSEUS' ISLAND HOME

Maps by BRUCE BURTON © University of Michigan, 2002

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Excerpts from The Odyssey © University of Michigan, 2002; other matter © Rodney Merrill, 2004