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Iliad by Homer

Iliad (edition 1994)

by Homer

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25,47025044 (4.03)9 / 1254
Info:Harpercollins (1994), Paperback
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Iliad by Homer

  1. 282
    The Odyssey by Homer (Voracious_Reader, caflores)
  2. 231
    The Aeneid by Virgil (HollyMS)
  3. 91
    Beowulf by Beowulf Poet (benmartin79)
  4. 31
    Tiger at the Gates by Jean Giraudoux (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Giraudoux imagines the events in Troy when Paris shows up with Helen
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    The Táin by Táin author (inge87)
  6. 42
    Ransom by David Malouf (GCPLreader)
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    The Dismissal of the Grecian Envoys by Jan Kochanowski (sirparsifal)
  8. 22
    The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (alalba)
  9. 13
    The Death of King Arthur by Anonymous (chrisharpe)
  10. 16
    Paradise Lost by John Milton (Torikton)
  11. 18
    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 (234)  Spanish (8)  Dutch (4)  French (3)  Italian (3)  German (1)  Danish (1)  Catalan (1)  All (255)
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I've been trying to read the classics, and there's nothing more classic than the *Iliad*. There are a wealth of translations available. As with my choice of translation for Aristotle's Poetics, I wanted one that was as similar to the original as was reasonable. To that end, I selected Lattimore's translation. As he says:

My aim has been to give a rendering of the *Iliad* which will convey the meaning of the Greek in a speed and rhythm analogous to the speed and rhythm I find in the original.

Rather than strive for poetical language, he aims for a plain and direct translation, as to better reproduce Homer's directness of language:

I must try to avoid mistranslation, which would be caused by rating the word of my own choice ahead of the word which translates the Greek. Subject to such qualification, I must render Homer into the best English verse I can write; and this will be in my own “poetical language,” which is mostly the plain English of today.

So, what's this *Iliad* thing all about, then?

In short, when the story begins, the Trojan war has been on for nine years. Chryseis, the daughter of a priest of Apollo, has been captured by Agamemnon, and he quite rudely refuses to ransom her back. As a result, Apollo punishes the Achaians. To placate Apollo, Agamemnon agrees to return Chryseis to her father, but only if he is given Achilles' captive, Briseis, in her place. This offends Achilles greatly, so he asks his mother, Thetis, to entreat Zeus to punish the Achaians in order to demonstrate his worth.

The bulk of the epic is a description of the battles between the Greek forces (particularly a few main actors such as Agamemnon, Odysseus, Diomedes, Ajax, and Nestor) and the Trojans, led by Hector, over the course of which the Achaians are pushed back to their ships, as Achilles begged of Zeus. Afterward, Achilles' friend, Patroklos, is killed by Hector, and Hector is in turn killed by Achilles.

When the epic ends, the Trojans have been driven back into their city, which is yet uncaptured, and Achilles, though still alive, is soon to die.

The story is usually entertaining, but there are several sections which present the genealogy of some character or other, which I found to be of little interest, and the battles are often long strings of "Foo, son of Bar, beloved of Zeus, was struck by the spear under the nose, and it pierced through. The darkness closed over both eyes, and he fell to the ground, thunderously, and his armor clattered upon him." Even bloody battles can be made dull by too much of this.

The most interesting part, I think, is how recognizable the characters' motivations are. Achilles is motivated by anger at being slighted, and in the end by grief and rage at the death of Patroklos. Or take Athena, who is upset with Aphrodite. She grants Diomedes the ability to recognize who among the combatants are gods, and tells him:

Therefore now, if a god making trial of you comes hither
do you not do battle head-on with the gods immortal,
not with the rest; but only if Aphrodite, Zeus’ daughter,
comes to the fighting, her at least you may stab with the sharp bronze.

Or when Diomedes is struck by an arrow shot by Paris, who brags of his success, and replies with this boast:

You archer, foul fighter, lovely in your locks, eyer of young girls.
If you were to make trial of me in strong combat with weapons
your bow would do you no good at all, nor your close-showered arrows.
Now you have scratched the flat of my foot, and even boast of this.
I care no more than if a witless child or a woman
had struck me; this is the blank weapon of a useless man, no fighter.
But if one is struck by me only a little, that is far different,
the stroke is a sharp thing and suddenly lays him lifeless,
and that man’s wife goes with cheeks torn in lamentation,
and his children are fatherless, while he staining the soil with his red blood
rots away, and there are more birds than women swarming about him.

Lattimore's translation is generally very easy to understand, though it would benefit greatly from footnotes, particularly when a characters is first referred to by some new epithet. Lattimore's choices for writing names can take some getting used to, as well: he renders Ajax as "Aias" and Achilles as "Achilleus", for example.

The direct, unpoetical language has its benefits, I suppose. The translation is never confusing by fault of overly florid language. But all the same I find myself a little disappointed how much it reads like ordinary prose; I enjoyed the more lyrical style of Cowper's translation, though it was a bit harder to follow.

Overall, I enjoyed the *Iliad* and was satisfied with Lattimore's translation. Even if it weren't an important work of literature, I think the *Iliad* would still be worth reading. It's not a quick read, by any means, but it needn't seem intimidating, either. If the *Iliad* is on your reading list, go for it!
3 vote Sopoforic | May 15, 2017 |
En cuanto a poesía épica, nadie supera a Homero. ( )
  CarlosBazzano | Feb 21, 2017 |
A whole lot of people with really long names died ( )
  hay16mc | Feb 13, 2017 |
I read this for school. To those who think that they know the story, and that therefore reading it would add very little, need to reconsider.

Homer's work is full of interesting language. Rarely have I come across similes that are so creative, or funny, or dark, and there are literally dozens upon dozens of them.

Oh, also: the Iliad is far more gory and brutal then the Troy movie. Fighters get stabbed through their skulls, and Homer describes every step until a warrior crashes down, his life taken.

Besides, in the midst of the endless battles, where gods appear and trick heroes, or empower them, or make them week in the knees, in the midst of one on one combat, the greatest warriors somehow manage to find time to deliver speeches of superb rhetorical quality.

It is hard to not find this work in a way comedic, reading it in the 21st century. The gods are petty, childish and capricious. The heroes have egos the size of a mansion. The combat seems entirely unrealistic; there is no way they'd realistically have time to taunt each other and fight isolated like that. Oh yeah, the gods are made up. However, war is timeless, and this is one of the first records, however fictional. And what more is timeless is the tragedy of death, whole families ruined and torn apart, friends dead in the dust, a longing for home and a longing for peace. Honor and respect, and hatred and rage, too. This work had an enormous impact on the Greeks, and I can see why. Fate determines so much, and there's so very little humans can do. Mortality is the central theme of this book, and it's dealt with well. The gods are immortal, which is exactly what sets them apart. Humans, however, must perish, and this defines us. It's fascinating that even back then, Homer knew this, and knew how to put down a legend in an engaging way, whilst also tackling the great theme that obsessed the Greeks: death.

  bartt95 | Jan 15, 2017 |
too stylized and stilted for me.
  BookstoogeLT | Dec 10, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 234 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (177 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
Ciani, Maria GraziaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cullen, PatrickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Derby, Edward the Earl ofTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Devecseri, GáborTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Due, Otto SteenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Erni, HansIllustratorsecondary 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
Orléans de La Motte, Louis François Gabriel d'Translatorsecondary 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
Wills, GarryPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
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
Publisher series
Original language
Book description
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 14 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 27 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

5 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140275363, 0140445927, 0140447946, 0140444440, 0451530691

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