It’s impossible not to smile when you start reading such a classic and, after only the first few pages, you realize and completely understand why it’s regarded as one of the most important works in literature. I’m always a little anxious when I tackle such renowned books for being afraid of not comprehending or loving them. Not that I’m obligated to like them, but I always feel such buzz comes for a reason and I try to at least find out why. With The Odyssey, once again, I find that the ones who have read it before me were right: it’s pretty good (Although, I liked The Iliad more).
The Odyssey tells the story of Odysseus’s (Ulysses) journey back to his home Ithaca to return to his wife Penelope and son Telemachus after twenty years of absence. Our hero left his home to fight in the Trojan War – that alone lasted ten years – and encountered too many obstacles that kept him away for another ten years. Back in Ithaca, people had already lost hope that he could still be alive and his wife was being courted by suitors who wanted to marry her.
Alongside the emotional and heartfelt story, what grabbed my attention here was the poem’s style and structure. For a work that’s believed to have been written in the 8th century BC, its quality and refinement certainly amazed me. Some of the story is told through flashbacks, some of it is told through different narrators and its narratives are non-linear, so I was positively surprised.
I could try to write an analysis about the recurring themes on the book – vengeance, spiritual growth, hospitality – or try to decipher its symbolism – much has been written about Odysseus’s bow, Laertes’s shroud, the sea -, but I feel I would just fail.
Before I started the book, I thought it would be too dense, making it hard for me to understand it. Sparknotes was a great companion to fill in the details I needed to comprehend the book in a deeper level.