The Odyssey

“No fine, greater gift in the world than that…

when man and woman possess their home, two minds,

two hearts that work as one.” (Book VI 200-202)


“Sinews no longer bind the flesh and bones together –

the fire in all its fury burns the body down to ashes

once life slips from the white bones, and the spirit,

rustling, flitters away… flown like a dream.” (Book XI 250-253)


“Of all that breathes and crawls across the earth,

our mother earth breeds nothing feebler than a man.

So long as the gods grant him power, spring in his knees,

he thinks he will never suffer affliction down the years.

But then, when the happy gods must bring on the long hard times,

bear then he must, against his will, and steel his heart.

Our lives, our mood and mind as we pass across the earth,

turn as the days turn…

as the father of men and gods makes each day dawn.” (Book XVII 150-158)


“Woman – your words, they cut me to the core!

Who could move my bed? …

Not a man on earth, not even at peak strength,

would find it easy to prise it up and shift it, no,

a great sign, a hallmark lies in its construction.

I know, I built it myself – no one else…

There was a branching olive-tree inside our court,

grown to its full prime, the bole like a column, thickset.

Around it I built my bedroom…

There’s our secret sign, I tell you, our life story!”

(Book XXIII 205-206, 210-216, 227)


“Son of old Laertes –

mastermind – what a fine, faithful wife you won!

What good sense resided in your Penelope –

how well Icarius’ daughter remembered you,

Odysseus, the man she married once!

The fame of her great virtue will never die.

The immortal gods will lift a song for all mankind,

a glorious song in praise of self-possessed Penelope.” (Book XXIV 211-218)


Homer. The Odyssey. Trans. Robert Fagles. Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition, 1999.