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The Iliad / The Odyssey by Homer
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The Iliad / The Odyssey (1952)

by Homer

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Homer's Epic Cycle (1-2)

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English (26)  French (2)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  All (30)
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THE ILIAD

The wrath of Achilles not only begins the oldest piece of Western literature, but is also its premise. The Iliad has been the basis of numerous clichés in literature, but at its root it is a story of a war that for centuries was told orally before being put down by Homer in which the great heroes of Greece fought for honor and glory that the men of Homer’s day could only imagine achieving.

The story of the Trojan War is well known and most people who have not read The Iliad assume they know what happens, but in fact at the end of the poem the city of Troy still stands and a wooden horse has not been mentioned. The Iliad tells of several weeks in the last year of the war that revolve around the dishonorable actions of Agamemnon that leads to Achilles refusing to fight with the rest of the Greeks and the disaster it causes in the resulting engagements against the Trojans. But then Achilles allows his friend Patroclus to lead his men into battle to save the Greek ships from being put to the torch only for Patroclus to advance to the walls of Troy and be slain by Hector. The wrath of Achilles turns from Agamemnon to Hector and the Trojans, leading to the death of Troy’s greatest warrior and the poem ending with his funeral.

Although the actions of Achilles and Hector take prominence, there are several other notable “storylines” one doesn’t know unless you’ve read epic. First and foremost is Diomedes, the second greatest fighter amongst the Greeks but oftentimes overlooked when it comes to adaptations especially to other important individuals like Odysseus, Menelaus, and the pivotal Patroclus. The second is how much the Olympians and other minor deities are thought to influence the events during this stretch of the war and how both mortals and immortals had to bow to Fate in all circumstances. The third is how ‘nationalistic’ the epic is in the Greek perspective because even though Hector is acknowledged the greatest mortal-born warrior in the war on both sides, as a Trojan he has to have moments of cowardice that none of the Greek heroes are allowed to exhibit and his most famous kill is enabled by Apollo instead of all by himself. And yet, even though Homer writes The Iliad as a triumphant Greek narrative the sections that have Hector’s flaws almost seem hollow as if Homer and his audience both subconsciously know that his epic is not the heroic wrath of Achilles but the tragic death of Hector.

The Iliad is the ultimate classic literature and no matter your reading tastes one must read it to have a better appreciation for all of literature as a whole. Although the it was first written over 2500 years ago, it shows the duality of heroic feats and complete tragedy that is war.

THE ODYSSEY

The crafty hero of The Iliad is in the last leg of his long ten year journey home, but it not only his story that Homer relates to the reader in this sequel to the first war epic in literature. The Odyssey describes the Odysseus’ return to Ithaca after twenty years along with the emergence of his son Telemachus as a new hero while his faithful wife Penelope staves off suitors who are crowding their home and eating their wealth daily.

Although the poem is named after his father, Telemachus’ “arc” begins first as the reader learns about the situation on Ithaca around Odysseus’ home and the search he begins for information on his father’s whereabouts. Then we shift to Odysseus on a beach longing to return home when he is informed his long sojourn is about to end and he sets off on a raft and eventually arrives among the Phaeacians, who he relates the previous ten years of his life to before they take him back home. On Ithaca, Odysseus and his son eventually meet and begin planning their revenge on the Penelope’s suitors that results in slaughter and a long-awaited family reunion with Penelope.

First and foremost The Odyssey is about coming home, in both Telemachus’ and Odysseus’ arcs there are tales of successful homecomings, unsuccessful homecomings, and homecoming that never happen of heroes from The Iliad. Going hand-in-hand with homecomings is the wanderings of other heroes whose adventures are not as exciting or as long as Odysseus’. Interwoven throughout the poem with homecomings and wanderings is the relationship between guests and hosts along with the difference between good and bad for both that has long reaching consequences. And finally throughout Odysseus’ long journey there are tests everywhere of all types for him to overcome or fail, but the most important are Penelope’s both physical and intimate.

Even though it is a sequel, The Odyssey is in complete contrast to The Iliad as instead of epic battle this poem focuses on a hero overcoming everything even the gods to return home. Suddenly the poet who gave readers a first-hand account of war shows his readers the importance of returning from war from the perspective of warriors and their families. Although they are completely different, The Odyssey in fact compliments The Iliad as well as completing it which means if you read one you have to read the other. ( )
  mattries37315 | Jun 23, 2017 |
At the core of Western culture, there is ancient Rome and Greece, and at the core of the ancient Roman and Greek culture, there is Homer. When reading, I really did feel that the Iliad and Odyssey contain the basic building blocks of the Western way of thinking. For example, Achilles and Odysseus were arguing about what to do next, and each could make a case that sounded convincing. But the ideas were not equally good.

This translation uses plain English, with no hexameter of rhymes, which helped me focus on the story. ( )
  automatthias | Jun 19, 2017 |
I loved the female characters the best. They have a true sense of love and strength. ( )
  RinHanase | Mar 11, 2017 |
I loved the female characters the best. They have a true sense of love and strength. ( )
  RinHanase | Mar 11, 2017 |
So The Odyssey was much better than The Iliad. But still... how anyone found this entertaining is beyond me. Sure, you have the makings of an epic - in fact these are THE penultimate epics. You have wars & battles, adventurous journeys, mythical creatures, beautiful women, meddlesome deities, even a trip to the Underworld. But the story-telling is painful.
I understand that in a time of oral history, the lineage we get on so many characters was vital to the audience for which this was written. It's the repetition of dialogue that makes this move so slowly I wanted to gouge my eyes out. When Agamemnon tells Ajax to go say something to Menelaus, I don't need to read Ajax reciting the exact same words to Menelaus; a simple " Ajax did so, & Menelaus replied..." would have sufficed. This is what I can't see any audience at any time enjoying - people like action, they like the story moving forward.

Odysseus' tale of his trials on his journey were entertaining, & skimped on this aggravating practice. Still, I couldn't bring myself to rate this any higher.

I read this book completely of my own free will, simply to know I had read this classic. To that end, I'm glad I did. But with the exception of a few chapters in The Odyssey, it was a hard slog. ( )
  LauraCerone | May 26, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (55 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Homerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Adler, Mortimer JEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Armstrong, W. C.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Butcher, S.H.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Butler, SamuelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cullen, PatrickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fagles, RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Flaxman, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Friedrich, Wolf HartmutAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hutchins, Robert M.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Knox, BernardIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lang, AndrewTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lattimore, RichmondTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oldenburg Ermke, Frans vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pope, AlexanderTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Voß, Johann HeinrichTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Voß, Johann HeinrichTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Von der Mühll, PeterEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Voss, Johann HeinrichTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
An Friedrich Leopold
Grafen zu Stolberg
1780
First words
Sing, O goddess, the anger of Achilles son of Peleus, that brought countless ills upon the Achaeans.
Quotations
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This work contains both (and only) The Iliad and The Odyssey. It should not be combined with either work separately or with Greek versions of the same texts (due to the "dead languages" exception).
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0147712556, Paperback)


Gripping listeners and readers for more than 2,700 years, The Iliad is the story of the Trojan War and the rage of Achilles. Combining the skills of a poet and scholar, Robert Fagles brings the energy of contemporary language to this enduring heroic epic. If The Iliad is the world's greatest war story, then The Odyssey is literature's greatest evocation of every man's journey through life. Here again, Fagles has performed the translator's task magnificently, giving us an Odyssey to read aloud, to savor, and to treasure for its sheer lyrical mastery. Each volume contains a superb introduction with textual and critical commentary by renowned classicist Bernard Knox.


@RageAgainstTheAchaean Pissed. I am so, so very pissed.

First I have to go to this beach. Then I have to kill all these dudes. And NOW – now! This prick stole my biscuit. Who does that? Am I right?

Can’t resolve this problem on my own – calling Mom!

From Twitterature: The World's Greatest Books in Twenty Tweets or Less about The Iliad


@IthacaStateOfMind Uh oh. This cave is a giant’s lair. He has a taste for cheese, and my companions. He also has only one eye. Trying to keep from laughing.

Got him drunk. Put a hot poker in his ONE EYE when he blacked out. That will show him – if he could see. LOL. Time to leave.

Damn. Poseidon pissed. How was I supposed to know One-Eye was his son? What Olympian whore did he sleep with to get an issue like that?

From Twitterature: The World's Greatest Books in Twenty Tweets or Less about The Odyssey

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:38 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

The Iliad tells the story of the war between Greeks and Trojans; the love between Helena and Paris; Achilles and Hector's deadly combat; the Trojan Horse... The Odyssey depicts the perilous voyage home of the Greek warrior Odysseus; his struggles against the one-eyed Cyclops; the terrible Sirens; the dreadful, six-headed Scylla... These classic Greek stories have been retold with lively text and a dramatic cartoon style.… (more)

» see all 10 descriptions

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