You have read and learned about or at least heard of the ancient Greek author Homer and his two epic poems, The Odyssey, and The Iliad. Whether it was in high school English class, a history lecture in college, or while watching The Simpsons, we’ve learned a lot about Homer and his works. If you like to read about vengeful gods, bloody battles, and deadly love affairs, then you’ll be delighted to know that there are several fiction books inspired by Homer’s stories. These books are retellings of Homer’s classic Greek stories.
The Iliad is set during the Trojan War and tells the story of the 10-year siege of Troy; and the battle between Kind Agamemnon and the doomed warrior Achilles. The Odyssey follows the journey of Odysseus, the king of Ithaca, to home after the war and the fall of Troy. These poems have been translated, studied and analyzed for centuries; and considered to be two of the most important works of ancient Greek literature. There are plenty of books that took inspiration from Homer’s epics. Some of them retell, revamp, and rework his poems to go beyond the stories of warring cities and the men who rule them.
If you loved the Iliad and the Odyssey, and want to revisit the ancient stories in brand new ways; then here is a list of books that are retellings of Homer’s classic works.
The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
The Booker Prize winning author Pat Barker wrote this powerful and touching book by retelling of Homer’s classic. In The Silence of the Girls, you’ll see the ancient city of Troy through the eyes of the girls and women; who lived through the decade of the war and devastation of the kingdom. This book gives a voice to those character whom we have seen but not heard in the Iliad. From slaves and prostitutes to nurses and former queen, including Briseis will tell you the tale of the kingdom. This book will transform the way we see the epic poem in the progress.
Circe by Madeline Miller
The bestselling author Madeline Miller takes on another chapter of ancient Greek history, after her The Song of Achilles, in this wonderful narrative about Circe. Circe was a powerful witch living in the island of Aeaea, who was visited by the Argonauts, and Odysseus. Circe is a fiercely feminist epic about family, violence, love, loss, and betrayal. Madeline Miller’s Circe is a must-read for Homer fans; and you will see another side of the original stories.
The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
As the title suggests, The Penelopiad is a retelling of Homer’s classic, the Odyssey, from the point of view of Penelope. Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad is a lyrical and darkly beautiful literary novel. The story reveals what Penelope was really while Odysseus was away. This book gives a voice to the 12 hanged maids from the original epic.
Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
Cold Mountain is Charles Frazier’s award-winning historical novel and takes the basic story of the Odyssey. The book retells the Odyssey to be about a mounded deserter from the confederate army near the end of the Civil War. A wonderful and haunting narrative, Cold Mountain is a true literary work. It has inspired Anthony Minghella’s Academy Award nominated film by the same name.
For the Most Beautiful by Emily Hauser
For the Most Beautiful by Emily Hauser is another retelling of Homer’s classic that lets the women of Troy tell their own story. This novel is about pain, suffering, courage, and sacrifice. It’s an interwoven tale of Krisayis, the daughter of the High Priest of Troy, and Briseis, the princes of Pedasus. This heartbreaking book will give you a whole new way to experience Homer’s epic like never before.