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Iliad by Homer
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24,29223945 (4.04)9 / 1129
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The Iliad by Homer

  1. 272
    The Odyssey by Homer (Voracious_Reader, caflores)
  2. 240
    The Aeneid by Virgil (Hollerama)
  3. 90
    Beowulf by Beowulf Poet (benmartin79)
  4. 30
    Tiger at the Gates by Jean Giraudoux (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Giraudoux imagines the events in Troy when Paris shows up with Helen
  5. 30
    The Tain by Tain Author (inge87)
  6. 41
    Ransom by David Malouf (GCPLreader)
  7. 21
    The Dismissal of the Grecian Envoys by Jan Kochanowski (sirparsifal)
  8. 21
    The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (alalba)
  9. 12
    The Death of King Arthur by Unknown (chrisharpe)
  10. 15
    Paradise Lost by John Milton (Torikton)
  11. 17
    The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan (Jitsusama)
    Jitsusama: An ancient classic revolving around Greek Myth. A great help to better understand the mythology of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.
  12. 19
    Troy [2004 film] by Wolfgang Petersen (Waldstein)
    Waldstein: Very free interpretation (not adaptation) that in many ways improves on the original. No childish gods, no rambling digressions. Visually spectacular. The dialogue is a bit cringeworthy now and then, but it does have flashes of brilliance. Only for the most broad-minded admirers of Homer - or those who find the Greek bard unsatisfactory. PS Caveat: the Director's Cut is gratuitously gory!… (more)
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English (224)  Spanish (8)  French (3)  Italian (3)  Dutch (3)  German (1)  Danish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (244)
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Read this for school years ago. ( )
  Shadow494 | Jun 20, 2016 |
I loved Homer's Odyssey, and so plunged into his earlier Iliad with great confidence. Relying on the same translator (Penguin Classics' E. V. Rieu) who had provided me with such beautifully alive prose in the story of Odysseus, I anticipated a similarly ambrosial experience. However, whilst I thoroughly enjoyed The Iliad and found much to recommend, it didn't excite in quite the same way.

For one thing, the poetry of the prose (the main thing I enjoyed in The Odyssey) was not as powerful in this story. This is not a slight on E. V. Rieu's translation (which in my edition has been extensively revised by his son D. C. H. Rieu and Peter Jones) but, as The Iliad is set primarily on the battlefield outside the walls of Ilium as opposed to Odysseus' later far-ranging adventures, there is less scope and opportunity for Homer to wax lyrical. There are still a number of great phrases (for example, the conflict is often lamented as war with all its tears", whilst imminent death is described as "black destiny") but they often lack the room to blossom.

This is largely because a large chunk of the book is a repetitive sequence of battles in which not much is gained or lost. Battle after battle on Troy's plains, with the soldiers killed in more or less the same ways and whenever a major name becomes endangered (Ajax, say, or Hector) one of the gods (Pallas Athene, usually, or Apollo) whisks them away in a suspiciously deus ex machina "thick mist". I never thought I'd tire of reading about Greek and Trojan heroes battling it out with spear and shield in hand, but the action is ceaseless and does get more than a tad boring, especially as the most charismatic warrior on either side - Achilles - is absent for the most part from the field. There's also a lot of Chatty Cathys in the rosters of the Greek and Trojan armies: in the heat of just about every battle two opposing heroes will break off to boast (at excruciating length) about their proud family lineages. Too often, I wished some non-descript lowborn soldier would steal in and kill one of these many blowhards whilst they are regaling their opposite number with how their great-grandmother was a sea nymph who was knocked up by Zeus or something. There's so many names referenced that even the likes of George R. R. Martin would blush.

It's also worth noting at this point that, in contrast to The Odyssey, which tells the full story of Odysseus' plight after the fall of Troy, The Iliad is not the whole story of the Trojan War myth as we know it today. The Iliad covers a brief period of that long war with the focus on Achilles, from his falling out with his leader Agamemnon over a slave girl and his subsequent refusal to fight, through the death of his friend Patroclus and his vengeful return to combat, to the death and mutilation of Hector and Priam's secret visit to a sorrowful and fatalistic Achilles. In The Iliad, we do not reach the stage where Achilles is killed when Paris shoots him in the heel, nor the stage where the Trojan Horse arrives with all that entails for the fate of Troy (in fact, if I recall correctly, the Horse only gets a passing mention in The Odyssey too). The reason the war started (Paris stealing away with Menelaus' wife Helen) is mentioned, but those three characters are bit-part players here; the focus is on Achilles and Hector. It is a compelling clash between these two charismatic heroes (even if Hector running away from Achilles four times around the city does have a touch of Monty Python about it) but prospective readers should be aware that it is not the complete story as one might know it today.

It may seem my review is unduly negative, but The Iliad has much to recommend. One advantage it does have over the otherwise superior Odyssey is its achingly rich humanity. There's a lot of cold-blooded murder in The Odyssey, and whilst The Iliad has a much higher body count, the deaths are felt far more intensely, despite their relentlessness. Each individual warrior is given by Homer his own little portrait or biography (almost like a little vignette introduced into the wider story) so when he falls, often in the same paragraph, he falls with great weight. E. V. Rieu has the right of it when, in his Introduction, he assures the reader that "they will be brought closer to tears by the death of a single horse in the Iliad than by the killing of the whole gang of Suitors" in The Odyssey (pg. xlviii). There's an enduring human element to The Iliad which borders on a surprisingly modern anti-war sentiment. Even the bloodthirsty Achilles questions the reasons for waging war on Troy and notes very early on that the Trojans have never done him any personal harm; he's there for glory and duty (pg. 8). On page 155, Achilles steps outside his usual self-involved, macho posturing to deliver an impressively eloquent address which throws into even sharper relief the senseless mass bloodletting taking place on the battlefields of Troy:

"... There were often times at home when my heart's one desire was to make some well-matched girl my lawful wife and enjoy the fortune my old father Peleus had made. For nothing, as I now see it, equals the value of life - not the wealth they say prosperous Ilium possessed in earlier days, when there was peace, before the coming of the Greeks, nor all the treasure piled up behind the stone threshold of Phoebus Apollo in rocky Delphi. Cattle and fat sheep can be lifted. Tripods and chestnut horses can be procured. But you cannot lift or procure a man's life, when once the breath has left his lips."

It is this rich humanity, igniting a tremendous sense of pathos in the reader, which makes The Iliad such a rewarding read, even if it doesn't quite compare to The Odyssey. The Iliad is the Hector to The Odyssey's Achilles; an inferior fighter when matched one-on-one, but one who would wipe the floor with just about anyone else on the field." ( )
1 vote MikeFutcher | Jun 3, 2016 |

Also by Homer, but less well known than The Odyssey. I translated this book in my Greek class. But I'm still planning to read the whole book (as a book rather than translating) ( )
  Floratina | May 26, 2016 |
I'm taking one star off for the boring parts with the naming of ships, captains, and numbers of men etc.

Saying that, this translation is beautiful. It's not so stilted as many translations I've tried to read. Stephen Mitchell has made this text accessible to everyone, even those who might think they couldn't read Classical works.

( )
1 vote GwenMcGinty | May 13, 2016 |
Well, one cannot say much about it! Its THE Iliad,…
Call me a hippie! But The whole time while I was reading it, I could not help myself thinking that maybe if the art of war was not being praised as much as it did in the ancient culture it could be more likely to us to inherit a more peaceful world! You also get to see that greed and ignorant have always been what motivated human being to run into battlefields!
Yet the positive fact about this kind of epics is the detailed, careful way of describing the weapons,clothing, traditions and values of the time. Otherwise, there would be no other ways for us to get to know about many of it. Seeing the sculptures and the historical sights would not give us the whole idea. ( )
  GazelleS | May 11, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 224 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (131 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Homerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alberich i Mariné, JoanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Baskin, LeonardIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bendz, GerhardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Björkeson, IngvarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bond, William HenryEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Broome, WilliamContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brower, Reuben ArthurEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bruijn, J.C.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Buckley, Theodore AloisEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Butler, SamuelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chapman, GeorgeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ciani, Maria GraziaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cullen, PatrickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
De La Motte, Monsr.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Derby, Edward the Earl ofTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Devecseri, GáborTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Due, Otto SteenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fagles, RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fitzgerald, RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Flaxman, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Graves, RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hammond, MartinIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holland, TomAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jacobi, DerekNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Knox, BernardIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lagerlöf, ErlandTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lang, AndrewTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lateur, PatrickTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lattimore, RichmondTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leaf, WalterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Linkomies, EdwinForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lombardo, StanleyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Manninen, OttoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mitchell, StephenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Monti, VincenzoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Myers, ErnestTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parnell, ThomasContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Perry, William G. Jr.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pope, AlexanderTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rees, EnnisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rhodes, Charles ElbertEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rieu, Emile VictorTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roberts, AdamIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rouse, William H. D.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Savage, SteeleIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schadewaldt, WolfgangTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schrott, RaoulTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Segalà i Estalella, LluísTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shankman, StevenEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shorey, PaulEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stawell, F. MelianIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stolpe, JanEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Svenbro, JesperForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Timmerman, Aegidius W.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vosmaer, C.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Voss, Johann HeinrichTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wakefield, GilbertEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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There thou shalt hear and learn the secret power
Of harmony, in tones and numbers hit
By voice or hand, and various-measured verse,
Aeolian charms and Dorian lyric odes,
And his who gave them breath, but higher sung,
Blind Melesigenes, thence Homer called,
Whose poem Phoebus challenged for his own.

--Milton, Paradise Regained, IV. 245
(Rouse translation, 1938)
These dull notes we sing
Discords neede for helps to grace them

(Lattimore translation)
To the memory of my father and my mother
and for Lynne, Katya and Nina ...

(Fagles translation, 1996)
To all times future this time's mark extend,
Homer no patron found, nor Chapman friend
Ignotus nimis omnibus
Sat notus moritur sibi.
(Chapman translation)
For Sarah, and for Ughetta, Benedict, Maria, Michael, Barnaby, and Caterina
(Fitzgerald translation)
(Lattimore translation)
First words
Anger be now your song, immortal one,
Achilles' anger, doomed and ruinous,
that caused the Achaens loss on bitter loss
and crowded brave souls into the undergloom,
leaving so many dead men - carrion
for dogs and birds; and the will of Zeus was done.
(Fitzgerald translation, 1974)
Rage - Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus' son Achilles,
murderous, doomed, that cost the Achaens countless losses,
hurling down to the House of Death so many sturdy souls,
great fighters' souls, but made their bodies carrion,
feasts for the dogs and birds,
and the will of Zeus was moving towards its end.
(Fagles translation, 1996)
Sing, goddess, the anger of Peleus' son Achilleus
and its devastation, which put pains thousandfold upon the
hurled in their multitudes to the house of Hades strong souls
of heroes, but gave their bodies to be the delicate feasting
of dogs, of all birds, and the will of Zeus was accomplished
since that time when first there stood in division of conflict
Atreus' son the lord of men and brilliant Achilleus.
(Lattimore translation, 1951)
Sing, Goddess, Achilles' rage,
Black and murderous, that cost the Greeks

Incalculable pain, pitched countless souls

Of heroes into Hades' dark,

And left their bodies to rot as feasts

For dogs and birds, as Zeus' will was done
(Lombardo translation, 1997)
Achilles' banefull wrath resound, O Goddess, that impos'd
Infinite sorrows on the Greeks, and many brave souls los'd
From breasts heroique; sent them far to that invisible cave
That no light comforts; and their limbs to dogs and vultures gave:
To all which Jove's will gave effect; from whom first strife begun
Betwixt Atrides, king of men, and Thetis' godlike son.
(Chapman translation, 1598)
"The worst cowards, banded together, have their power but you and I have got the skill to fight their best" -- Poseidon's encounter with Idomeneus at the turn of the battle for the ships
Last words
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Disambiguation notice
Due to the "dead language exception" copies of the Iliad in the original Greek should not be combined with modern language translations. Also, individual volumes should not be combined with other individual volumes or with the complete work.
Publisher's editors
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Original language
Book description
[Prior description deleted. Note this field applies to the work and should not be used for edition-specific information]
Haiku summary
Too many heroes
Too much blood, sex, fighting, war
Gods and goddesses
Mannered, ironic,
Pope is scarcely Homeric.
How is it this works?
Helen of Sparta
Elopes with Paris. Name change
To Helen of Troy
All work and no gifts,
I refuse to fight for you
until my friend dies.

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0140275363, Paperback)

This groundbreaking English version by Robert Fagles is the most important recent translation of Homer's great epic poem. The verse translation has been hailed by scholars as the new standard, providing an Iliad that delights modern sensibility and aesthetic without sacrificing the grandeur and particular genius of Homer's own style and language. The Iliad is one of the two great epics of Homer, and is typically described as one of the greatest war stories of all time, but to say the Iliad is a war story does not begin to describe the emotional sweep of its action and characters: Achilles, Helen, Hector, and other heroes of Greek myth and history in the tenth and final year of the Greek siege of Troy.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:07 -0400)

(see all 15 descriptions)

The centuries old epic about the wrath of Achilles is rendered into modern English verse by a renowned translator and accompanied by an introduction that reassesses the identity of Homer. In Robert Fagles' beautifully rendered text, the Iliad overwhelms us afresh. The huge themes godlike, yet utterly human of savagery and calculation, of destiny defied, of triumph and grief compel our own humanity. Time after time, one pauses and re-reads before continuing. Fagles' voice is always that of a poet and scholar of our own age as he conveys the power of Homer. Robert Fagles and Bernard Knox are to be congratulated and praised on this admirable work.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 35 descriptions

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Editions: 0140268863, 0140275363, 0140445927, 0140447946, 0140444440, 0451530691

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