Emily Wilson's translation of The Odyssey is my third; I read Robert Fagles' and Stanley Lombardo's before this. You can't go wrong with any of them - Fagles' is lyrical but modern, Lombardo's is admirably plain-speaking and fast-paced, and Wilson's is swift, smart and exciting. But Wilson's is my favorite now, and the one I'd recommend to someone dipping in for the first time. Caroline convinced me to read Wilson's introduction, and I'm glad I did. It's a corker. She explains The Odyssey this way: "We encounter a surprising range of different characters and types of incident: giants and beggars, arrogant young men and vulnerable old slaves, a princess who does laundry and a dead warrior who misses the sunshine, gods, goddesses, and ghosts, brave deeds, love affairs, spells, dreams, songs, and stories. Odysseus himself seems to contain multitudes: he is a migrant, a pirate, a carpenter, a king, an athlete, a beggar, a husband, a lover, a father, a son, a fighter, a liar, a leader, and a thief. He is a man who cries, takes naps, and feels homesick, but he is also a man who has a special relationship with the goddess who transforms his appearance at will and ensures that his schemes succeed." As she says, this isn't the usual hero who saves the world or "at least changes it in some momentous way"; instead, "for this hero, mere survival is the most amazing feat of all". The story raises "important questions about the moral qualities of this liar, pirate, colonizer, deceiver, and thief, who is so often in disguise, absent or napping, while other people - those he owns, those he leads- suffer and die, and who directly kills so many people." This complexity is what continues to fascinate me, and has led me through three translations and re-reads. What is so outstanding about this translation? "The Odyssey is a poem, and it needs to have a predictable and distinctive rhythm that can be easily heard when the text is read out loud. The original is in six-footed lines (dactylic hexameters), the conventional meter for archaic Greek narrative verse. I used iambic pentameter, because it is the conventional meter for regular English narrative verse - the rhythm of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron, Keats, and plenty of more recent anglophone poets . . . my translation sings to its own regular and distinctive beat. My version is the same length as the original, with exactly the same number of lines. I chose to write within this difficult constraint because any translation without such limitations will tend to be longer than the original, and I wanted a narrative pace that could match its stride and Homer's nimble gallop." I can't speak to the original, but hers certainly has stride and nimble gallop. She also leans toward simplicity of language, "in a style that echoes the rhythms and phrasing of contemporary anglophone speech." She notes that "stylistic pomposity is entirely un-Homeric". Occasionally (rarely, really) this results in what to me is an odd word choice, e.g. carrying weapons in a "hamper" - really? But overall it succeeds beautifully. Some examples: At a light touch of whip, the horses flew, Swiftly they drew toward their journeys' end, on through fields of wheat, until the sun began to set and shadows filled the streets. Helen, on the events in Troy: The Trojan women keened in grief, but I was glad - by then I wanted to go home. I wished that Aphrodite had not made me go crazy, when she took me from my country, and made me leave my daughter and the bed I shared with my fine, handsome, clever husband. Circe confronting Odysseus: "Who are you? Where is your city? And who are your parents? I am amazed that you could drink my potion and yet not be bewitched. No other man has drunk it and withstood the magic charm. But you are different. Your mind is not enchanted. You must be Odysseus, the man who can adapt to anything." Odysseus and Athena are natural partners. As she says, "To outwit you in all your tricks, a person or a god would need to be an expert at deceit. You clever rascal! So duplicitous, so talented at lying! You love fiction and tricks so deeply, you refuse to stop even in your own land. Yes, both of us are smart. No man can plan and talk like you, and I am known among the gods for insight and craftiness." He is such a liar! And it's so deeply engrained that he lies even when he doesn't need to. But his lies always carry a greater message: "His lies were like the truth/ and as she listened, she began to weep." If you haven't read The Odyssey before, you probably know the basics of the story by osmosis. But that's nothing like experiencing this ancient yet so modern story. Emily Wilson has brought an intelligence, rhythm and excitement to it that to me is the best yet. Have some fun reading an old classic; it's a treat.