The Odyssey, by Homer and translated by Samuel Butler is part of HackerNoon’s Book Blog Post series. You can jump to any chapter in this book here.
Butler’s Translation of the “Odyssey” appeared originally in 1900, and The Authoress of the Odyssey in 1897. In the preface to the new edition of “The Authoress”, which is published simultaneously with this new edition of the Translation, I have given some account of the genesis of the two books.
The size of the original page has been reduced so as to make both books uniform with Butler’s other works; and, fortunately, it has been possible, by using a smaller type, to get the same number of words into each page, so that the references remain good, and, with the exception of a few minor alterations and rearrangements now to be enumerated so far as they affect the Translation, the new editions are faithful reprints of the original editions, with misprints and obvious errors corrected—no attempt having been made to edit them or to bring them up to date.
(a) The Index has been revised.
(b) Owing to the reduction in the size of the page it has been necessary to shorten some of the headlines, and here advantage has been taken of various corrections of and additions to the headlines and shoulder-notes made by Butler in his own copies of the two books.
(c) For the most part each of the illustrations now occupies a page, whereas in the original editions they generally appeared two on the page. It has been necessary to reduce the plan of the House of Ulysses.
On page 153 of “The Authoress” Butler says: “No great poet would compare his hero to a paunch full of blood and fat, cooking before the fire (xx, 24-28).” This passage is not given in the abridged Story of the “Odyssey” at the beginning of the book, but in the Translation it occurs in these words:
“Thus he chided with his heart, and checked it into endurance, but he tossed about as one who turns a paunch full of blood and fat in front of a hot fire, doing it first on one side then on the other, that he may get it cooked as soon as possible; even so did he turn himself about from side to side, thinking all the time how, single-handed as he was, he should contrive to kill so large a body of men as the wicked suitors.”
It looks as though in the interval between the publication of “The Authoress” (1897) and of the Translation (1900) Butler had changed his mind; for in the first case the comparison is between Ulysses and a paunch full, etc., and in the second it is between Ulysses and a man who turns a paunch full, etc. The second comparison is perhaps one which a great poet might make.
In seeing the works through the press I have had the invaluable assistance of Mr. A. T. Bartholomew of the University Library, Cambridge, and of Mr. Donald S. Robertson, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. To both these friends I give my most cordial thanks for the care and skill exercised by them. Mr. Robertson has found time for the labour of checking and correcting all the quotations from and references to the “Iliad” and “Odyssey,” and I believe that it could not have been better performed. It was, I know, a pleasure for him; and it would have been a pleasure also for Butler if he could have known that his work was being shepherded by the son of his old friend, Mr. H. R. Robertson, who more than half a century ago was a fellow-student with him at Cary’s School of Art in Streatham Street, Bloomsbury.
HENRY FESTING JONES.
120 MAIDA VALE, W.9.
4th December, 1921.
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Homer, 1999. The Odyssey. Urbana, Illinois: Project Gutenberg. Retrieved April 2022 from https://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/1727/pg1727-images.html#pref02
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