The Return of Ulysses: A Cultural History of Homer’s Odyssey – written by local author Professor Edith Hall and published by I B Tauris & Co. Limited.

Edith Hall who lives near Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds is a scholar of classics and cultural history and holds a joint Research Chair in Classics and Drama at Royal Holloway, University of London where she directs the Centre for the Reception of Greece and Rome. She also co-directs a research project at Oxford University and is Chairman of the Gilbert Murray Trust.

Described by the poet Colin Teevan as “the Thierry Henry of Classics” (what a wonderful quote) Professor Hall has focussed her research on racism, sexism and class prejudice in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds.

She has made many TV and Radio appearances, regularly appearing on Radio 4, including Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time and Woman’s Hour, as well as acting as a consultant for professional theatre productions.

Professor Hall was also the model for Ethel Spurgeon who was the heroine of Stephen Prasher’s novel The Cellar at the Top of the Stairs and the model for the goddess Hera in the stage play by Colin Teevan Alcmaeon in Corinth.

The Return of Ulysses: A Cultural History of Homer’s Odyssey is her sixth book and is an enlightening look at how Homer’s Odyssey has resonated in West and offers a thematic analysis of the poem’s impact on social and political ideas, institutions, and mores from the ancient world through to the present day. Proving that the epic poem is timeless, Edith Hall identifies fifteen key themes in the Odyssey and uses them to illustrate the extensive and diverse effect that Homer’s work has on all manner of inquiry, expression, and art.
Source: The Johns Hopkins University Press

The book, which is written in an accessible and lively way and with beautiful illustrations, explains the popularity of the story of Odysseus trying to get home to his loyal wife Penelope, but delayed by one-eyed giants and beautiful nymphs and sirens.

There is a strong focus on films inspired by or adapting the Odyssey, including the Coen Brothers O Brother Where Art Thou, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, 2001: A Space Odyssey as well as novels such as Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus (Canongate Myths).

Professor Edith Hall is the author, co-author, editor or co-editor of a number of books on classics, myth and the ancient world including Greek Tragedy and the British Theatre 1660-1914 (co-authored with Dr Fiona Macintosh) 2005 and The Theatrical Cast of Athens: Interactions between Ancient Greek Drama and Society: Interactions Between Ancient Greek Drama and Society 2006.
The Return of Ulysses: A Cultural History of Homer’s Odyssey is available from our Cotswold Bookstore now and is listed under “Books by local authors”.