I did it. I finished The Odyssey, albeit a tad late since I was supposed to have finished in November per The Odyssey Readalong. Oh well. I actually enjoyed it overall. It was not the lothesome task I had feared in the beginning.
To summarize, Odysseus makes it back to Ithaca and with the help of his now grown son, two other loyal friends, and Athena, he cuts the dirtbag suitors to pieces. He reveals himself to his wife and father, good old King Laertes, and they all live happily ever after.
I must say, this is not one for the kids. Adult themes abound in The Odyssey as they do in many an ancient text, to include The Old Testament. Depictions of the final showdown have suiters jetting blood from their nostrels, begging for mercy only to be denied and slaughtered, and in the end, a victorius Odysseus stands among the slain, covered with gore from the battle.
Tom learned lots of new things during this first journey into the great books. Most of all, I think I came to appreciate the value, at least to those of us in the west, of making the journey at all. In his atheist manifesto, The God Delusion (unconvincing, but still pretty interesting), Richard Dawkins insists that the Bible, because of its long history and influence on western society and thought, retains an essential place in the library of any well read or reasonably learned individual. The same holds true for the rest of the great books. I can't bring to mind any specific examples, but during my reading, I was constantly thinking, "So that's where that came from." The Odyssey does not educate, so much as it illuminates.
I don't know what will be next on my classics list, but I go forward confident that the task will not be so terrible and the results worth while.