The Odyssey of Homer (Alexander Pope)

Alexander Pope's 1725 English translation of The Odyssey

The Odyssey of Homer was a poetic interpretation of the original Homeric poem undertaken by Alexander Pope, published in 1725. It followed Pope's successful publication of The Iliad of Homer, which was published serially from 1715 to 1720.

The Odyssey of Homer (poetic interpretation, 1725)

Note: Elijah Fenton translated Books I, IV, XIX and XX; William Broome translated Books II, VI, VIII, XI, XII, XVI, XVIII and XXIII; Alexander Pope revised and corrected these, and translated the remaining books.

Book I

  • The man for wisdom's various arts renown'd
    Long exercised in woes, O Muse! resound.
    • Line 1.

Book II

  • Fly, dotard, fly!
    With thy wise dreams and fables of the sky.
    • Line 207.
  • And what he greatly thought, he nobly dared.
    • Line 312.
  • Few sons attain the praise
    Of their great sires, and most their sires disgrace.
    • Line 315.
  • For never, never, wicked man was wise.
    • Line 320.

Book III

  • Urge him with truth to frame his fair replies;
    And sure he will: for Wisdom never lies.
    • Line 25.
  • The lot of man,—to suffer and to die.
    • Line 117.
  • A faultless body and a blameless mind.
    • Line 138.
  • The long historian of my country's woes.
    • Line 142.
  • Forgetful youth! but know, the Power above
    With ease can save each object of his love;
    Wide as his will extends his boundless grace.
    • Line 285.
  • When now Aurora, daughter of the dawn,
    With rosy lustre purpled o'er the lawn.
    • Line 516.

Book IV

  • These riches are possess'd, but not enjoy'd!
    • Line 118.
  • Mirror of constant faith, rever'd and mourn'd!
    • Line 229.
  • There with commutual zeal we both had strove
    In acts of dear benevolence and love:
    Brothers in peace, not rivals in command.
    • Line 241.
  • The glory of a firm, capacious mind.
    • Line 262.
  • Wise to resolve, and patient to perform.
    • Line 372.
  • The leader, mingling with the vulgar host,
    Is in the common mass of matter lost.
    • Line 397.
  • O thou, whose certain eye foresees
    The fix'd events of fate's remote decrees.
    • Line 627.
  • Forget the brother, and resume the man.
    • Line 732.
    • Line 917.
  • The people's parent, he protected all.
    • Line 921.
  • The big round tear stands trembling in her eye.
    • Line 936.
  • The windy satisfaction of the tongue.
    • Line 1092.

Book V

  • Heaven hears and pities hapless men like me,
    For sacred ev'n to gods is misery.
    • Line 572.
  • The bank he press'd, and gently kiss'd the ground.
    • Line 596.

Book VI

  • A heaven of charms divine Nausicaa lay.
    • Line 22.
  • Jove weighs affairs of earth in dubious scales,
    And the good suffers while the bad prevails.
    • Line 229.
  • By Jove the stranger and the poor are sent,
    And what to those we give, to Jove is lent.
    • Line 247.

Book VII

  • A decent boldness ever meets with friends,
    Succeeds, and even a stranger recommends.
    • Line 67.
  • To heal divisions, to relieve th' opprest;
    In virtue rich; in blessing others, blest.
    • Line 95.
  • Oh, pity human woe!
    'T is what the happy to the unhappy owe.
    • Line 198.
  • Whose well-taught mind the present age surpast.
    • Line 210.
  • For fate has wove the thread of life with pain,
    And twins ev'n from the birth are misery and man!
    • Line 263.
  • In youth and beauty wisdom is but rare!
    • Line 379.


  • And every eye
    Gaz'd, as before some brother of the sky.
    • Line 17.
  • Nor can one word be chang'd but for a worse.
    • Line 192.
  • And unextinguish'd laughter shakes the sky.
  • Behold on wrong
    Swift vengeance waits; and art subdues the strong!
    • Line 367.
  • A generous heart repairs a slanderous tongue.
    • Line 432.
  • Just are the ways of Heaven: from Heaven proceed
    The woes of man; Heaven doom'd the Greeks to bleed,—
    A theme of future song!
    • Line 631.

Book IX

  • Earth sounds my wisdom and high heaven my fame.
    • Line 20.
  • Strong are her sons, though rocky are her shores.
    • Line 28.
  • Lotus, the name; divine, nectareous juice!
    • Line 106.
  • Respect us human, and relieve us poor.
    • Line 318.

Book X

  • Rare gift! but oh what gift to fools avails!
    • Line 29.
  • Our fruitless labours mourn,
    And only rich in barren fame return.
    • Line 46.
  • No more was seen the human form divine.
  • And not a man appears to tell their fate.
    • Line 308.
  • Can living eyes behold the realms below?
    What bark to waft me, and what wind to blow?
    • Line 596.
  • Let him, oraculous, the end, the way,
    The turns of all thy future fate display.
    • Line 642.
  • Born but to banquet, and to drain the bowl.
    • Line 662.

Book XI

  • Thin airy shoals of visionary ghosts.
    • Line 48.
  • His cold remains all naked to the sky
    On distant shores unwept, unburied lie.
    • Line 67.
  • Who ne'er knew salt, or heard the billows roar.
    • Line 153.
  • Heav'd on Olympus tott'ring Ossa stood;
    On Ossa, Pelion nods with all his wood.
    • Line 387. Compare: "Then the Omnipotent Father with his thunder made Olympus tremble, and from Ossa hurled Pelion", Ovid, Metamorphoses i.
  • The first in glory, as the first in place.
    • Line 441.
  • Soft as some song divine thy story flows.
    • Line 458.
  • Oh woman, woman! when to ill thy mind
    Is bent, all hell contains no fouler fiend.
    • Line 531. Compare: "What mighty ills have not been done by woman! Who was ’t betrayed the Capitol?—A woman! Who lost Mark Antony the world?—A woman! Who was the cause of a long ten years’ war, And laid at last old Troy in ashes?—Woman! Destructive, damnable, deceitful woman!", Thomas Otway, The Orphan, Act iii, Scene 1.
  • What mighty woes
    To thy imperial race from woman rose!
    • Line 541.
  • But sure the eye of time beholds no name
    So blest as thine in all the rolls of fame.
    • Line 591.
  • Rather I'd choose laboriously to bear
    A weight of woes, and breathe the vital air,
    A slave to some poor hind that toils for bread,
    Than reign the sceptred monarch of the dead.
    • Line 597.
  • And pines with thirst amidst a sea of waves.
    • Line 722.
  • Up the high hill he heaves a huge round stone.
    • Line 736.
  • There in the bright assemblies of the skies.
    • Line 745.
  • Gloomy as night he stands.
    • Line 749.

Book XII

  • All, soon or late, are doom'd that path to tread.
    • Line 31.
  • And what so tedious as a twice-told tale.
    • Line 538. Compare: "Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale, Vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man", William Shakespeare, King John, Act iii, Scene 4.
  • Better to rush at once to shades below,
    Than linger life away, and nourish woe!
    • Line 415.


  • He ceas'd; but left so pleasing on their ear
    His voice, that list'ning still they seem'd to hear.
    • Line 1. Compare: "The angel ended, and in Adam's ear / So charming left his voice, that he awhile / Thought him still speaking, still stood fix'd to hear." John Milton, Paradise Lost (1667), Book VIII, lines 1–3.
  • His native home deep imag'd in his soul.
    • Line 38.
  • And bear unmov'd the wrongs of base mankind,
    The last and hardest conquest of the mind.
    • Line 353.
  • How prone to doubt, how cautious are the wise!
    • Line 375.

Book XIV

  • It never was our guise
    To slight the poor, or aught humane despise.
    • Line 65.
  • The sex is ever to a soldier kind.
    • Line 246.
  • Far from gay cities and the ways of men.
    • Line 410.
  • And wine can of their wits the wise beguile,
    Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile.
    • Line 520.

Book XV

  • Who love too much, hate in the like extreme,
    And both the golden mean alike condemn.
    • Line 79.
  • True friendship's laws are by this rule expressed,
    Welcome the coming, speed the parting guest.
    • Line 83. Compare: "For I, who hold sage Homer’s rule the best, Welcome the coming, speed the going guest", Pope, Imitations of Horace, Satire II, Book II, line 159.
  • For too much rest itself becomes a pain.
    • Line 429.
  • Discourse, the sweeter banquet of the mind.
    • Line 433.
  • And taste
    The melancholy joy of evils past:
    For he who much has suffer'd, much will know.
    • Line 434.
  • For love deceives the best of womankind.
    • Line 463.

Book XVI

  • And would'st thou evil for his good repay?
    • Line 448.


  • Whatever day
    Makes man a slave, takes half his worth away.
    • Line 392.
  • In ev'ry sorrowing soul I pour'd delight,
    And poverty stood smiling in my sight.
    • Line 505.
  • Unbless'd thy hand, if in this low disguise
    Wander, perhaps, some inmate of the skies.
    • Line 576. Compare: "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares", Hebrews 13:2.


  • Know from the bounteous heaven all riches flow;
    And what man gives, the gods by man bestow.
    • Line 26.
  • Yet taught by time, my heart has learn'd to glow
    For others' good, and melt at others' woe.
    • Line 269.

Book XIX

  • A winy vapour melting in a tear.
    • Line 143.
  • But he whose inborn worth his acts commend,
    Of gentle soul, to human race a friend.
    • Line 383.

Book XX

  • The fool of fate,—thy manufacture, man.
    • Line 254.
  • Impatient straight to flesh his virgin sword.
    • Line 461.


  • Dogs, ye have had your day!
    • Line 41.
  • For dear to gods and men is sacred song.
    Self-taught I sing; by Heaven, and Heaven alone,
    The genuine seeds of poesy are sown.
    • Line 382.
  • So ends the bloody business of the day.
    • Line 516.


  • And rest at last where souls unbodied dwell,
    In ever-flowing meads of Asphodel.
    • Line 19.
  • The ruins of himself! now worn away
    With age, yet still majestic in decay.
    • Line 271.
  • And o'er the past Oblivion stretch her wing.
    • Line 557.


  • Tell me, Muse, of the man of many wiles.
    • "Book I, line 1" — as reported in a 1968 edition of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations (p. 405), and in The Yale Book of Quotations (2006, p. 599), but not found in Pope's works.
  • So perish all who do the like again.
    • "Book I, line 37" — a translation of Homer's "ὡς ἀπόλοιτο καὶ ἄλλος ὅτις τοιαῦτά γε ῥέζοι" (Odyssey, i.47), also wrongly attributed to Pope in the 1968 edition of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations (p. 405). Compare: "Sic semper tyrannis".
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