The Odyssey Recommendations

Book Cover of The Odyssey, by Homer


Excuse me as I rep my 4 years of Latin and (brief) interest in pursuing a degree in Classics/Archeology. Want to know what Odysseus was fighting for? Try The Illiad, also by Homer. Another epic poem, this covers the last bit of the Trojan War and has all the dramatic battle scenes and meddling of the gods your heart could desire. If you’ve already jumped down that rabbit hole, give The Aeneid a whirl, one of our final episodes. Written by Virgil, this nationalist epic tells the other side of the story, from the Roman, or Trojan, perspective. My attachment to these two legends can probably be attributed to the (ridiculously) fun video projects my magistra assigned to us in high school, one of which may or may not have included dancing to “Hoedown Throwdown” in the blooper reel.


If you enjoyed the ancient Greek setting and the fantastical nature of this epic, but want something a little lighter, I recommend Goddess of Yesterday by Caroline B. Cooney. It is a short, young adult fiction novel about a young girl and the events before the Trojan War. It is a modern writer’s take on the ancient greek setting. I connected with this book when I was a teenage girl and imagining myself as a greek princess was quite enjoyable.

To throw something a little different at you, I would like the recommend Lord Alfred Tennyson’s “Ulysses” if you enjoyed the poetic style of this work and the subject as well. It is a poem written from the perspective of Odysseus about the events of The Odyssey. Tennyson is a great representative of Victorian era poetry and this work shows us the reverence given to ancient Greek stories during the 1800s in England. It is a beautiful and short work that I hope readers will find engaging.


The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood, a novella published in 2005 as the first part of a series of stories called The Canongate Myth Series that had contemporary authors reimagine legends and mythology of old, should be eagerly sought out by fans of Greek mythology. It is told from the perspective of Odysseus’ much maligned and sidelined wife, Penelope, who awaits him for decades in Ithaca. Her musings are accompanied by the accounts of the 12 maids hanged by Telemachus at Odysseus’ behest for disloyalty, told each in a new style – from a variety of songs, to trial format, a lesson, and even a jump rope song. The novella reflects on what it means to be a member of a family, justice and particularly narrative justice, and the distressing disparity of perspective and treatment of different sexes and classes. The Penelopiad cannot be missed.

The Odyssey (1997) is a two part british miniseries starring Armand Assante as Ulysses in the best possible encompassing of the epic poem to date. Sure, some of the effects are a rather cheesy almost 20 years later, but they were provided by Jim Hensen’s Creature Shop so you SHUT UP. But truly, it is brilliantly directed by Andrei Konchalovsky and packs all the action and excitement into the special feature that could possibly be achieved. Small screen features don’t always have the budget, but TV shows have time to really delve into a story and tell many adventures, which is exactly what The Odyssey requires.

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