The opening lines from the Odyssey, in which Homer describes the hero Odysseus, his character, his suffering.
Jane Mason and Stephen Jenkin
ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ
πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν:
πολλῶν δ᾽ ἀνθρώπων ἴδεν ἄστεα καὶ νόον ἔγνω,
πολλὰ δ᾽ ὅ γ᾽ ἐν πόντῳ πάθεν ἄλγεα ὃν κατὰ θυμόν,
ἀρνύμενος ἥν τε ψυχὴν καὶ νόστον ἑταίρων. 5
ἀλλ᾽ οὐδ᾽ ὣς ἑτάρους ἐρρύσατο, ἱέμενός περ:
αὐτῶν γὰρ σφετέρῃσιν ἀτασθαλίῃσιν ὄλοντο,
νήπιοι, οἳ κατὰ βοῦς Ὑπερίονος Ἠελίοιο
ἤσθιον: αὐτὰρ ὁ τοῖσιν ἀφείλετο νόστιμον ἦμαρ.
τῶν ἁμόθεν γε, θεά, θύγατερ Διός, εἰπὲ καὶ ἡμῖν. 10
O Muse, tell me of that man of many ways, who travelled
Far and wide, after he sacked the sacred citadel of Troy;
Many mens’ cities he saw and knew their minds,
Many pains too he suffered at sea, in his heart,
Striving for his life and the homecoming of his comrades.
But he did not save his comrades, although he tried;
For by their own folly they perished –
Fools, who took the oxen of Helios Hyperion
And ate them; and so he took from them their day of homecoming.
Start from some place, O goddess, daughter of Zeus, and tell us.
Chosen by Jane Mason and Stephen Jenkin. Stephen’s recommended translation is by R. Lattimore.
The above text is provided by the Perseus Digital Library.
The introductions to the Iliad, Odyssey and Aeneid set the scene for the poems and it is interesting to compare and contrast them, even in translation with students who are only studying Latin or neither.