n this new translation of the Odyssey, Norbert Albertson has succeeded in crafting a vivid and thoughtful English version of Homer's great work. Both true to the original and resonant in the present day, it is a masterful work of story-telling for readers of our time. Translator's note: The Greek Odyssey is one of the supreme achievements of the human mind and spirit. This book is not that Odyssey, but a translation, which-like all other translations of the Odyssey-like any translation of any work of literature-is a re-creation in a different language of some of the qualities of the original work. So at the very beginning, a translator must ask himself: "Which qualities of this work can I hope to -re-create?" If you look at a number of translations of the Odyssey, you soon see that each translator has answered that question in his own way, a way that differs-and usually differs greatly-from that of all the others. In On Translating Homer, Matthew Arnold, the great Victorian poet and critic, famously says that the qualities of Homer are four: he is rapid; he is plain and direct in thought and expression; he is plain and direct in substance; and he is noble. In this translation I have aimed at the first three, hoping (and partly believing) that, if I succeeded to some degree in those first three, the fourth would take care of itself.
Homer is best known as the author of The Iliad and The Odyssey. He was believed by the ancient Greeks to have been the first and greatest of the epic poets. Author of the first known literature of Europe, he is central to the Western canon. Homer's works, which are about fifty percent speeches, provided models in persuasive speaking and writing that were emulated throughout the ancient and medieval Greek worlds. Fragments of Homer account for nearly half of all identifiable Greek literary papyrus finds in Egypt. The Iliad is paired with something of a sequel, The Odyssey, also attributed to Homer. Both stories were intended to be sung by an epic poet. Along with The Odyssey, The Iliad is among the oldest extant works of Western literature, and its written version is usually dated to around the eighth century BC.