The World of Odysseus cover
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Publication date:
September 30, 2002
NYRB Classics

The World of Odysseus is a concise and penetrating account of the society that gave birth to the Iliad and the Odyssey—a book that provides a vivid picture of the Greek Dark Ages, its men and women, works and days, morals and values. Long celebrated as a pathbreaking achievement in the social history of the ancient world, M.I. Finley’s brilliant study remains, as classicist Bernard Knox notes in his introduction to this new edition, “as indispensable to the professional as it is accessible to the general reader”—a fundamental companion for students of Homer and Homeric Greece.


A scintillating work of literary and historical sociology, this book, originally published in 1954 and last revised in 1977, is back in print….His book and E. R. Dodd’s The Greeks and the Irrational remain the smartest and most dazzling works on ancient Greece that are accessible to the layman.
The Atlantic Monthly

A book of remarkable intellectual power and social insight.
— C. P. Snow, Sunday Times (London)

In fact, virtually nothing is known about Homer the human being except through study of his time, place and culture. This is the value of The World of Odysseus, one of an eclectic list of works being given new life by the New York Review of Books. His book is a valuable synthesis of what’s known for certain about Homer’s era and some of the events the poet describes. It’s one of those gemlike books distilled from a lifetime’s research and study.
— George Fetherling, The New Brunswick Reader