The Odyssey – Check-in the First

Posted 8 November, 2010 by Trish in Reading Nook / 18 Comments

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Welcome to The Odyssey Readalong Check-in the First (Books 1-6).

It’s not too late to sign up if you haven’t already!  I’m thrilled about the turnout and hope that you guys are enjoying your reading so far. 

A Brief Synopsis of Books I-VI (note I am using the Fitzgerald edition so spellings may be different)

Several years after the Trojan war, Athena notices Odysseus still has not made it home to Ithaca. Odysseus is trapped by Kalypso’s spell and cannot leave her island.  The gods agree to free Odysseus from Kalypso’s spell while Athena tends to Ody’s son, Telemakhos.  She encourages him to find word of his father to hopefully push out the suitors that are seeking his mother Penelope.  Telemakhos journeys to Nestor’s home then to Menelaus’s home (he’s married to Helen who started the whole bit) for word on Odysseus.  Meanwhile Odysseus frees himself from Kalypso only to crash onto another island where the fair Nausikaa seems to find Ody suitable for a husband!  I smell drama ahead!

Ody and Kalypso

Some Questions for you to Ponder
(These can be rhetorical but I’d love to hear your thoughts–either on your own post or in the comments below!  If you have questions you’d like discussed for next week, I’d love to include them–email me by Sunday).

1. How does your reading of The Odyssey compare to your expectations?  Any surprises?
2. What are your thoughts on the interaction between the Gods and Mortals?  Specifically Athena’s involvement in the story.

My thoughts:
I’m surprised at how easy The Odyssey is to read!  It still takes me some time to read each book and I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I probably won’t get much else read this month, but the verse is very readable and easy to follow.  I’m also surprised that Odysseus doesn’t make a grand appearance until Book V–I had forgotten how Telemakhos gets involved through Athena’s urging.

And what’s up with Athena anyway?  I feel like she’s a meddler–sending Hermes to get Ody off the island with Kalypso and she sending Telemakhos on the chase to find word of Ody?  And I have a feeling that nothing good can come of Athena getting Nausikaa involved!

Note: I found this great resource by Least Tern that gives a book by book synopsis as well as a character list.  This resource is based on the Fagles translation.

Readalong Interaction!
If you have written a post (not required) about Books I-VI, please link to it in the Mr. Linky below.  I hate to make this disclaimer, but please link directly to your post.  I’ll be deleting any links that do not go directly to a Odyssey post (sorry).

Happy journeys!  I look forward to catching up with you all and meeting up again next Monday for Books VII-XII (7-12).

Question: Is the pace too quick?  Let me know your thoughts on ending as scheduled on November 30th or pushing back to December 13th to give us two extra weeks??

Picture of Calypso found on the Newburn Wikispace

18 Responses to “The Odyssey – Check-in the First”

  1. I wonder now if reading The Odyssey would be easier to me than it was when I was 18 and not really in the practice of reading classics. Not that I’m aching to find out…

  2. I didn’t get as much done as I wanted, but hey.

    Yeah, I didn’t know that it starts off being about Telemachus either. The introduction to my edition explained that it’s to set the scene for Ody’s return, otherwise there would be a break in the action as Homer would need to explain the situation Ody’s coming back to. Makes sense.

  3. I don’t really know anything about the odyssey. I heard that the movie “o brother where art thou” was based on this book. It doesn’t really sound like it though. Your thoughts?

  4. I’m quite happy with the pacing, and I think it’s perfect to finish it up in November (but that’s selfish on my part as the first few weeks of December are final exams and vacation in Mexico. :)

  5. I think the pacing is fine. I’ve been trying to read one book a day. I did get a little behind with book four since it was quite a bit longer, but I just made up the time on Sunday. I’m fine if others want to slow it down though. I always have plenty of other things to read :)

  6. I’m definitely enjoying this readalong so far. I’m impressed with how polished and well-structured The Odyssey is. I guess I was expecting something a little more difficult and “foreign,” like Gilgamesh or the Bible. Perhaps that speaks to how much of our culture comes out of classical Greece.
    The gods certainly do play a large role in getting things moving, eh? I get the impression that if it weren’t for them the characters would just lie around like blobs, eating and doing party tricks like the suitors!

    The pace is just fine. I’m a slow reader but had no problem keeping up. It’s going to be a great month!

  7. *Amanda – I think you’d be surprised at how easy this one is to read! Maybe taste a bit of Jason’s edition?

    *Joanna – Interesting–I hadn’t thought about explaining Ody’s return as a reason for Telemakhos’s portion in the story! Does make a bit more sense. Though, it still seems like a lot of extra work on Homer’s part! ;)

    *Rhapsody – Oh those Greek Gods–creating trouble for everyone. Seems this story could be so much easier without their meddling, but perhaps it’d be boring! Or something…

    *Michelle – Love me some Cohen Brothers!! And yes, O Brother Where Art Thou IS based on The Odyssey!!

    *Trisha – I think we’ll keep the same. ;)

    *Jenny Girl – It’s not too late to join us!! You’ll have some catching up but we’d love to have you!

    *Kristi – I don’t think we’ll change–most seem to be fine with pacing. Are you enjoying the book so far??

    *Sylvia – I was really amazed at how easy the reading has been as well–like you I’m slower but am still enjoying it. Have you read any Terry Pratchett? He’s a British satire writer–did the Discworld series. In The Colour of Magic he shows the gods sitting around playing the mortals as chess pieces. How true that seems in The Odyssey, huh? Men as pawns!

  8. I love reading all of these Odyssey posts, since the book is such a favorite of mine (and the namesake of my own blog).

    Telemachus’ story is my favorite of the two men. You’ll begin to see how he grows and changes as the story goes on. Athena intervenes for a reason, but you’ll have to wait and see. :)

    My favorite books are coming up-especially when Odysseus fights the Cyclops.

  9. Thanks for the great resources! I, too, am surprised by how easy it is to read. I’m good with the current schedule :-)

    I’m on schedule with the reading (listening, for me), but when I sat down to write my post, I realized I needed to be able to look at the text. It’s too hard to skip back and find things with the audio! As soon as my copy comes in at the library (next few days, I hope) I’ll add my post.

  10. *Allie – I love how everyone is so excited about the reading so far–makes you want to pick it up with us, huh? ;) I can’t wait until Cyclops comes into the story–or some of the other elements I remember when I was a kid. Thanks for sharing your enthusaism with everyone here and on their own wrap-ups.

    *Kristi – Hurrah!

    *Erin – Soooo, does this mean that you’re enjoying listening? :P Glad it’s going well and I can’t wait to see what you think!!

  11. I am enjoying it! I can’t believe it! It’s not my favorite story, but I’m enjoying listening anyway. Thanks for tempting me with your readalong wiles :-)

  12. Regarding the interaction of gods and mortals…a couple of thoughts spring to mind. Athena withheld any interaction or protection of Odysseus for quite a while because of Greek atrocities once Troy was sacked, so her resumption of interaction marks a change for her.

    Zeus’ first lines concerning how the humans blame the gods for what they bring upon themsleves also brings up the role of Fate. For me the interaction of how gods, humans, and fate work is interesting to watch.

    I’ll try not to spoil what’s coming up, but later in the book is a conversation between Athena and Odysseus that encapsulates how the gods just don’t “get” humans or their concerns. Glad to see so many people tackling and enjoying this!

  13. 1. I’m gobsmacked by how easy it is to read! (I heart Fagles)
    2. I kinda like Athena. So far. Calypso, though…what a bitch. And Poseidon! What bug crawled up his butt? Okay, so Odysseus blinded his son. Still, the guy’s out to get Ody. I must confess, I’m surprised by how involved Athena is…she’s a hands-on goddess.

    I’ve got my post ready for tomorrow. Falling behind and having to play catch up in this readalong is not nearly as traumatic as it was for that Other Book.

  14. Oh Man!! i missed it =( I’ll do a catch up post when I’m done. I’m still trying to get through book 6. I was trying to read between two editions because one was easier to understand. I’ll catch up!