Odysseus: A Life

Version: Unabridged
Author: Charles Rowan Beye
Narrator: Mark Bramhall
Genres: Historical Fiction, Fairy Tales & Folklore
Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
Published In: February 2004
# of Units: 5 CDs
Length: 6 hours, 5 minutes
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Everyone seems to know something about Odysseus: how he defeated the Trojans in a surprise attack with a massive wooden horse; how he wandered the Mediterranean seas for ten years trying to get home; and how he eventually killed the suitors who were swarming around his faithful wife, Penelope, back at his palace in Ithaca. Yet this extraordinary figure who has captured our imagination over the millennia, from culture to culture, has never been the subject of a "biography," in which his life is set out from beginning to end. Until now.

In this highly unusal and entertaining book, acclaimed classicist Charles Beye imagines a biography of the fictional Bronze Age hero, and puts his unique spin on Odysseus' strange and adventuresome existence. With tremendous wit and insight, Beye portrays the character's remarkable evolution, chronicling his life from start to finish. And an amazing life it is: from his boyhood as an indulged lad in his father's palace to his ten long years of bitter fighting at Troy; from his subsequent encounters with a variety of creatures seemingly from the land of fairy-tale (such as the Lotus Eaters, the Cyclops, and the witch Circe) to his sexual escapades with the sea nymph Calypso on the island of Ogygia; and from his ultimate return to Ithaca and dramatic killing of the suitors surrounding his wife to his oddly anti-climactic final years.

But Beye does more than just tell the facts of Odysseus' life. He delves into the psychological complexities of this enigmatic individual and examines his motives and character. Beye's account reads like a modern novel. Furthermore, it is filled with interesting facts about the texture of life in the second millennium BCE, as well as fascinating analogies and references to our own era. Beye's treatment glows with a distinct humor and wisdom. With Odysseus: A Life, he casts new light on one of the great figures of the Western imagination.

Reviews (1)

Less exciting than expected

Written by Anonymous on February 25th, 2019

  • Book Rating: 2/5

I rented this book based on 2 things: a previous listen to Circe, by Madeline Miller and read by Perdita Weeks (5 stars for both book AND reader), which of course mentioned Odysseus and encouraged me to learn more about him; and previous listens to Mark Bramhall (The Magicians trilogy) whose voice I really enjoy. Sadly, even Mr Bramhall's wonderful voice couldn't save this book and hold my interest; it is an interesting historical topic, but as written it's just tedious and overlong. I so hoped to like it.

Author Details

Author Details

Beye, Charles Rowan

<div><div><b>Charles Rowan Beye</b> is Professor of Clas&shy;sics at Boston University. <br>&nbsp;<br><b>John Gardner</b> is a medieval scholar and major contemporary novelist.<br></div></div>