The Iliad took me nearly a month to read and I had expected the same of the Odyssey, therefore I was surprised at how quickly I breezed through this epic poem in just a week’s time. Being a journey tale the Odyssey had more movement and forward progression that kept the reading light compared to the Iliad’s constant formula of building up battle after battle with referential acknowledgement of the dueling champion’s heritage, epic strength, and godly fortitude.
There were some dull points in the Odyssey and I was a little annoyed that although Odysseus made it to his home of Ithaca by book 13 (Ithaca at Last) there was pretty much no action until book 22 (Slaughter in the Hall). During this period there was a lot of gratuitous ego stroking on Odysseus’ part as he, disguised as an old man, spent his time determining how many tears his wife had cried for her lost husband as his kingdom was being picked apart by vulturous suitors. Come on Homer, did you really have to devote an entire book towards Odysseus’ bow (Book 21: Odysseus Strings his Bow)? Despite these low points, the books 9-12 (In the One-Eyed Giant’s Cave, The Bewitching Queen of Aeaea, The Kingdom of the Dead, & The Cattle of the Sun) that recount Odysseus’ troubled travels were fantastic and are the heart of the Odyssey. I’d recommend anyone to simply read those chapters to capture what the big deal about the Odyssey really is all about.