Book Review: Homer’s Daughter by Robert Graves
“On the whole, I have respected the truth because, not being a born liar, I find wanton invention confusing; though I do exaggerate at times, like everyone else, and must adapt, disguise, shift, diminish and enlarge incidents to square them with the epic tradition. I have, indeed, kept as closely as possible to my own experience.”
A 1955 romp through a familiar ancient saga with a very modern twist. What if someone revised Homer’s original Odyssey and the one we have is the revision? And why did she and why did she change it as she did? Graves knows how to write this.
“Athene is the best ally imaginable and quick to take offence. Zeus, though the stronger, is apt to be indolent or preoccupied and, as they say, his mills grind slowly.”
The literary minded, especially those familiar with both Homer’s Odyssey and some of the scholarship about it, will enjoy it most … or hat it. That said, it’s long and as unlikely as most ancient sagas.
“If every time a lark flaps her wings or an eagle breakfasts on a sparrow I must spend the next month wondering what trouble it portends, life would become impossible.”
Take the subject’s religion seriously. No winks or nods to modern or post-modern sensibilities. The story doesn’t work if the cast disbelieve their own belief system.
“But Homer, I am sure, went equally wrong at times, and I flatter myself that my story is interesting enough to blind Phemius’s listeners to its faults, even if he has a cold, or the banquet is badly cooked, or the good dark wine runs short.”
Interesting, familiar, book and review. I think I read/studied this years ago. My prep school taught a few classics in history class. Sadly, I remember little these days. Thank you.
It’s a creative story-behind-the-story story. 😉