Classics Retold: The Odyssey Summary and Line-Up


September 3, 2013 by Heidi

Classics Retold

Hello friends!  We’ve finally reached that time of year where the Classics Retold event will go down.  If you’ll hearken back to my With Bated Breath post, I listed seven books I was hoping to read for this challenge.  Since that time, the books have changed.  Some have been added, others have been axed, and I’ll be honest–I’ve only read three so far, which means this September my ears will be full of the Odyssey!

Not familiar with The Odyssey?  Here’s a quick run down:

Ten years after the Trojan War (which we won’t get into because that’s The Illiad‘s job), Odysseus is still not home, and his wife Penelope and son Telemachus are stuck dealing with a bunch of overamorous (and greedy) suitors who just won’t get the hint.  But Athena, the goddess who’s taken it upon herself to protect Odysseus, encourages Telemachus to go search for his father.  He does so, finding Menelaus who reveals knowledge that Odysseus has been held captive by the nymph, Calypso.

Queue Wayne’s World time warp (it is a crime that it is not easier to find a gif of this):

Odysseus has been stuck on an island with Calypso for seven years.  She wants him, he wants his wife.  Awkward.  Hermes shows up to convince Calypso to let the man go (because his sister Athena begged him to), and Calypso does, but Poseidon crashes Odysseus onto another island, this time with the Phaeacians who he tells his story to.

First, they get blown off course and spend some time with the Lotus Eaters (I imagine this is a bit like time in a 1970s commune with less dancing).  Then they get captured by a cyclops, escape by strapping themselves to sheep and blinding him (with a stick, not the sheep), and said cyclops gets a wee bit upset and tells his daddy Poseidon, who then has it out for Odysseus and curses him to wander for a decade.

Odysseus catches a bit of luck when he’s given the winds, but his idiot sailors open the bags within sight of home and blow themselves back to the beginning.  They then run into some cannibals, which is where Odysseus loses the rest of his fleet (really, not the best dude to travel with), and then they spend some time with Circe who turns more than a few of them into pigs.  Odysseus, however, resists and convinces Circe to change his men back in exchange for his hot hot body for a year.  When they leave, they follow her instructions to the west and sacrifice to the dead after which he meets all kinds of dead people who give him advice.

They swing back by Circe for more advice, skirt around the sirens, Scylla (a six headed monster), and a massive whirlpool.  After landing, Odysseus’s men get themselves into trouble again by hunting sacred cows.  This pisses the gods off (again), and they suffer a ship wreck of which Odysseus was the only survivor, washed up on Calypso’s island.

The Phaeacians, hearing his tale, decide to get him home.  Finally back in Ithica, Odysseus and Telemachus meet (after Telemachus avoids an ambush from his mom’s suitors on the trip home), and hatch a plan.  The plan involves Athena disguising him as a beggar, which is how Odysseus takes part in an archery competition to win Penelope’s hand.  At this point, Odysseus and son (and their allies and Athena) kill all of the suitors, hang the maids, and mutilate the goatherd.  Nothing says welcome home like a massacre.

The end (more or less).


Considering my complete inability to post anything as of late (I did film an August vlog, but the audio/visual weren’t syncing on my new PC and I can’t be bothered to fix it atm.  Hopefully I’ll get recap/September new releases posts up, but no promises), September is going to be all Odyssey all the time.  Here’s what my hopeful schedule looks like:

September 5th: Graphic Novels

All Action Classics Homer's The OdysseyThe Odyssey by Gareth Hinds
Instead of rereading the epic poem, I decided to go for an easier/fun refresher on the details of the story and read two graphic novel adaptations.  Think it’s a cop out?  Turns out, that’s all the Cohen brothers did before making the movie O Brother Where Art Thou as well.  And they never read the original.

September 10th: Antigoddess by Kendare Blake

Antigoddess by Kendare Blake

I had no idea when I picked up Antigoddess that it was going to fit my Classics Retold project perfectly.   I was just dying to read the newest offering from Kendare Blake.  And believe me when I say, it’s even better than Anna.

September 12th: The Rathbones by Janice Clark

The Rathbones by Janice Clark

I’m listening to the audio production for Janice Clark’s debut, The Rathbones as we speak.  It’s too early in to really judge how I feel about it, but it’s certainly an Odyssey retelling, with some heavy shades of Moby Dick and a little Edgar Allen Poe–just as it was pitched!

September 17th: Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block

Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block

I’ve been saving this one specifically for Classics Retold, and it will be the last physical book I actually plan to get through for the project.  I’ve been avoiding reviews thus far so as not to be spoiled, but judging by the few friends who have already read it, I’m going to be quite happy.

September 19th: Big Fish and O Brother Where Art Thou

Big Fish by Columbia PicturesO Brother Where Art Thou by Touchstone Pictures
I really wanted to read Big Fish, but unfortunately that’s not going to happen this month.  I do still want to take the chance to talk about my two favorite movie adaptations of The Odyssey!

September 24th: The Penelopliad by Margaret Atwood

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

Carried over from my original list, I’m planning to pop this one in my headphones as soon as I finish with The Rathbones.  It’s Margaret Atwood’s take–the story from Penelope’s point of view.

September 26th: Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

A book I’ve been meaning to read for years, I’m finally going to get to it.  And maybe if I’m feeling super ambitious, I’ll watch the movie too (let’s not count on it).  Charles Frazier’s historical fiction of a man returning home from the Civil War is supposed to reflect the original tale quite well.


So, welcome to a moth of Classics Retold here on Bunbury in the Stacks!  I hope you enjoy, and let me know if you’re participating, I’d love to see what you’re reading.


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  1. Wait, Cold Mountain is based off The Odyssey? REALLY? O.o. Wow. I love the film (and Jude Law!), though I need to read the book as well. I’m excited for this feature, though, since I don’t read a lot of re-told classics, so I’m sure you’ll manage to convince me to pick up a whole lot of these. I can’t wait!(:

  2. The Rathbones looks SO SOOO good. I hope that you love it. I basically cannot wait to hear about ALL OF THESE THINGS. I just watched O Brother Where Art Thou a few months ago, it is my dad’s favorite movie and I loved it!

    Happy reading, my dear!!

  3. […] The Odyssey Summary and Line-Up […]

  4. […] Bunbury in the Stacks reviews THE ODYSSEY. […]

  5. Angie says:

    Half of these I didn’t even know were retellings! I am about to look through all your reviews!!!

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While the source for each book I review is posted within its review, please assume unless otherwise stated that books reviewed on Bunbury in the Stacks were received free from the author or publisher in exchange for an honest review.