Saturday, April 18, 2015

O is For Odyssey

Another entry into the 'classics' that I've been hitting on, The Odyssey is the homeward journey of Odysseus from the War at Troy.

If you were looking at it from the modern perspective, it would be the end of a trilogy that started with The Iliad, moving into the Aeneid, and finishing in the Odyssey.

The Odyssey is filled with a great number of bits that have been incorporated into most fantasy role playing games.

1. The Greek Gods: While not present in every fantasy RPG, the influence of them is often heavy. Not only in fantasy though, but often in Super Hero comics. For example, Marvel Comics and DC Comics have both made extensive use of the Greek Pantheon including the use of Hercules and Ares, and even going so far as to make Wonder Woman an actual daughter of Zeus in the new 52.

2. Monsters: Man seducing sirens who sing men to their death. Great and towering cyclops who eat men whole while guarding their flock of sheep. The terror of sailing between Scylla and Charybdis.

3. Strength of Arms: When Odysseus makes his return home, he finds his wife under siege from numerous suitors. Her solution? Only the one who can string and fire the boy of Odysseus may claim her.

4. Dangerous Journey: One of the worst aspects of most role playing games is the tedium of ship travel. Here that wasn't quite a problem as Homer puts his characters through the paces several times, including having them come within sight of their home only to have the foolish men above the ship unless the bag of winds and blow them back off course.

I've mentioned previously that unless I've personally read a different version, I go with the Penguin Classics. In this case, the Penguin Classic I recommend isn't the standard one, because there are several, but the one translated by Robert Fagles. His work didn't do much for me on the Iliad, but man, his version of the Odyssey was fantastic. It flowed like a calm river carrying me with it and allowing me to enjoy the ride.