Zeus, Protector of Strangers, must be watching over Robert Fagles. Fagles has now ventured twice into the territory of the Homeric poem—a land from which most ordinary translators might never hope to return—and this time he has brought back a fresh, readable translation of the Odyssey. A stronger poem than his much acclaimed Iliad, Fagles’s Odyssey gives us an English Homer that is as compelling to hear as to read—an Odyssey that conjures the sea-surge of Homer’s poetry through the rhythms and workings of English.
Consider the rugged beauty that Fagles achieves at the opening of book eleven, the book devoted to Odysseus’s descent into the underworld:
Now down we came to the ship at the water’s
we hauled and launched her into the sunlit