Why Homer matters
There are days when you drift around the streets, take the long route home, get lost on your way to somewhere else or nowhere in particular, take liberties with the truth, tell yourself or someone else you are doing something or going somewhere you are not.
These days might be infrequent or they might be regular. You may be doing this because you are spontaneous or because you are insubordinate or because of the pleasure of telling lies. Occasionally you will find yourself feeling honoured at the way you have been deceived or are deceiving others.
Sometimes all your luck will come at once and sometimes it will feel like it is never going to come again. Sometimes coming home is the only feeling you ever need to have again and sometimes home is wherever you happen to be right now.
We will return to our parents and find them old, and we will feel the isolation of our lives as soon as we become social. Nor can we find a remedy for the sensation that things might have worked out differently.
Witchcraft is real and is practised by people every day. There are magicians working among us. Tricksters still make a living and they deserve their winnings.
Odysseus teaches us that Cyclopses can be defeated with cunning, that the gods can be on the side of heroes who are morally equivocal and that we are a part of all that we have met.
Homer knew that life is a 'frail travelling coincidence'.
Good luck to the people who haven't read him.
For a starting point I recommend Logue's War Music, which is the most astonishing piece of modern poetry I know, or E.V.Rieu's classic translation of The Odyssey which reads like a novel.
Logue, by the way, includes lines like this:
Sometimes Before the gods appear Something is marked: A noise. A note, perhaps. Perhaps A change of temperature. Or else, as now, The scent of oceanic lavender
And, of course, Emily Wilson has produced a wonderful Odyssey.