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Iliad by Homer

Iliad (edition 1994)

by Homer

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23,30623247 (4.04)9 / 1062
Info:Harpercollins (1994), Paperback
Collections:Your library

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The Iliad by Homer

  1. 272
    The Odyssey by Homer (Voracious_Reader, caflores)
  2. 240
    The Aeneid of Virgil by Virgil (Hollerama)
  3. 90
    Beowulf by Beowulf Poet (benmartin79)
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    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 Tain by Tain Author (inge87)
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    Ransom by David Malouf (GCPLreader)
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    The Dismissal of the Grecian Envoys by Jan Kochanowski (sirparsifal)
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    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)
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    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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2. The Iliad by Homer, translated by Robert Fagles
with an introduction and notes by Bernard Knox
composition: arguable, but let's say ~750 bce
format: 689 page Kindle e-book
read: Jan 1-23
acquired: Nov 2013, when I thought I might finish the Old Testament soonish
Rating: 5 stars sort of

It's remarkably difficult for me to formulate a response to this classic, Homer's Iliad. It's a foundational text. But it's very unfoundational in feeling.

A valid question is, is the Iliad great or just very old? And a typical answer will be that it has the whole essence of humanity within. But does it? And, if so, does Fagles' translation provide it?

It's a bit early in my thinking process to be asking these unanswerable questions. But really my question is how to approach it. I can come at it from the angle of history and the migrations of and clashing of peoples, from heroic imagery (or if you like, hot muscular long-haired blond men in shining golden-ish colored bronze armor and weaponry), at the style (and it's clash with the biblical style), at it's construction (which I'm reading about in Adam Nicolson's Why Homer Matters). And there is the translation issues. And eventually my response. What is my response anyway? I can think separately of all these (overwhelming) different things, but I'm having a lot of trouble tying it together into something coherent. It's like the different parts of my brain not only refuse to align, which is normal, but refuse to concede. Each aspect is holding its ground, and a mental stalemate conjures up, uselessly.

Adam Nicolson might like me to see this way. The Asian hordes rushed to the ends of the steppes an converted their nomadic culture to one that sea raiders with a home base. The combat hardened and ruthless pirates clash into the settled ancient cultures of the eastern Mediterranean, and made a living feeding off them. But the ancient cultures and their cities, with all their wealth and allies and mercenaries, with all their procured beauty, are at heart susceptible. At some point you can't buy off unreasonable and heroic passion. The bronze barbaric hordes will come even if we like to image them quite beautiful.

"As ravening fire rips through big stands of timber high on a mountain ridge and the blaze flares miles away, so from the marching troops the blaze of bronze armor, splendid and superhuman, flared across the earth, flashing into the air to hit the skies."

Through time, as these cultures clashed, stories evolved in song, and they later began to standardize, acquired an author and authority, and become our Homeric epics. Or maybe there was a Homer.

So, what is in these stories? Their origins date to one side of the Greek dark ages, the height of bronze age Mycenae culture circa 1250 bce. But their composition is dated to the other side, well into the iron age, to the dawn of the classical Greek world, around 750 bce. They preserve within what were otherwise long lost aspects of culture and warfare, including the bronze itself, as well as associations with an assortment of other largely lost stories. They create an oddly comedic mythology of quarreling gods who can charm, strengthen and lure humans, but also be hurt by them. And they create a heroic myth that is ultimately a tragedy, but also a blood and gore soaked work of entertainment. And that is one of the oddest things about the Iliad to me, that it is ultimately entertainment. And you can build it up as much as you like, but, well, doesn't that limit it? I mean is it ultimately an amusement, a distraction?

I've probably lingered on long enough, and I still haven't mentioned Achilles, Hector, the woman who launched those thousand ships, or even a single god by name. There is plenty to into read in how Achilles, in slaying Hector who wears his armor, is symbolically killing himself, and at the same time suicidally walking into his prophesied doom. Really I haven't touched on the story. Achilles rage, Agamemnon's foolish bravado, Odysseus's practical cruelty, Hector's limitations, the women in Troy who are on the verge of become subhuman possessions of the barbarian conquerors. In book one Athena seizes Achilles by the hair to “to check your rage, if only you will yield". Of course, he won't really do that. The battles must be fought and civilization must fall to reality. ( )
1 vote dchaikin | Jan 30, 2016 |
Confrontation upon confrontation (with some love scenes thrown in) - between man and god, between man and man. A rather incestuous story about what seems to obssess us even to this day. I love Lattimore! ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Couldn't really get into this. Love Classical texts, so it's not the content, really, and the translation itself isn't bad -- neither is the poetry -- it just didn't click for me. Even the first line, for instance, rubbed me the wrong way, with the interruption and the strange word order which, though I understand the intent, doesn't float well with me. Then he refers to Patroclus as a "friend" in the introduction, which also turned me off, as I am strongly of the camp that he and Achilles would have had two Boston terriers and a white picket fence around their house together on Fire Island if they were alive today. So if you're looking for the best translation, I'd look elsewhere. If you're just looking for another translation, though... here you go! ( )
  inpariswithyou | Jan 22, 2016 |
I'm reading this for English, but it's really good. I've got a background in Greek mythology, though, which helps me understand a lot of the stuff going on, and I've got a really out-there vocabulary. Only read this if you can keep up with Old English and if you've got at least basic knowledge of the Greek myths. Once you get into it, it's really interesting. The worst part of it is the way Homer stops in the middle of a battle and tells somebody's life story, just to kill him in the next stanza. That really aggravates me. Homer's a little long-winded, and I reall don't think this'd ever get published if it wasn't valuable for it's historical importance. It's just not that interesting. ( )
  jerenda | Jan 20, 2016 |
The book I love to hate. The whole plot revolves around men fighting over chippie-pies. The stealing away of Helen starts the war. The redisposition of the female war-trophies eventually causes the death of Hektor, greatest hero of the Trojans. It is a record of a chain of events leading to Hektor's death and starting, more or less, with the anger of Achilles. But where does it actually start? With Helen? With the kidnapping of Chryseis (whose name seems to rhyme conveniently with Achilles' trophy, Briseis) whose father demands her back (so her whole family wasn't killed off in some side-plot raid to obtain provisions and fresh sex partners) and the god he serves punishes the Greeks with a plague in revenge? Chryseis has to be returned and when Achilles speaks up that this is only right or prudent, Agamemnon, who has to give her up, gets angry and demands Briseis from Achilles in recompense. And THEN Achilles gets annoyed, goes back to his ship, and refuses to fight anymore. His τιμή has been tarnished.
Achilles persuades this mother, Thetis, to persuade Zeus to stick it to the Greeks and make them wish they hadn't tarnished his τιμή, by gosh and by golly. The pettiness of it all is what galls me. But I keep reading it, don't I? In the meantime, many people die. They die over the need to possess women utterly.The Greeks are forced to beg him to come back. They'll give him Briseis back, along with a warranty of no-touchy-by-Agamemnon (riiiight), and even more booty - one can never have too many bronze tripods, can one? But Achilles is still PO'd bigtime. His cousin (riiiiight), Patroclos asks to go in Achilles' armor to rally the Greeks and scare the Trojans, with the inevitable tragic results. Whatever you do, Achilles warns, don't mess with Hektor! But he does and dies. And that's what it takes to get Achilles back in the fight. Don't mess with his "cousin." Achilles suits up, kills Hektor, and then desecrates his body. When he's had enough of that, he returns the body to King Priam, who has sneaked into the Greek camp to ask for it.
There are subplots involving the gods. They've taken sides and argue and fight amongst themselves. It makes so much more sense than having just one god. It would explain everything, like why sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Zeus is in ascendancy until Hera lures him into a honeytrap with a combination of sex and a godproof chamber. So the Greeks get a boost from Poseidon. Aphrodite gets involved in battle (trying to rescue her son), is struck and leaks ichor and runs crying to mommy.
My favorite bit is the catalog of the ships, for some reason. Not sure why that captured my fancy. Also, I've made a complete list of every way each person dies in the course of this epic. Perhaps I should do a spreadsheet on it. [Not German enough for you?] Almost every death is described and personal. None of this medieval "whip off a hundred/thousand heads with one swipe of the sword" nonsense. I've also listed all the similes. Okay, I did a spreadsheet on that. The similes aren't overdone or anything. I've got 137 and in a poem that long, maybe that's not so much, but they are more expansive that necessary. I guess that's Art for you.
[Example: "...the son of Peleus rose like a lion against him, the baleful beast, when men have been straining to kill him, the county all in the hunt, and he at the first pays them no attention but goes his way, only when some one of the impetuous young men has hit him with the spear he whirls, jaws open, over his teeth foam breaks out, and in the depth of his chest the powerful heart groans; he lashes his own ribs with his tail and the flanks on both sides as he rouses himself to fury for the fight, eyes glaring, and hurls himself straight onward on the chance of killing some one of the men, or else being killed himself in the first onrush." I rest my case.]
It's also fun to cast the characters with famous actors or politicians - any sort of performer. One can while away the time waiting for the 300+ car coal train to pass this way.
  marfita | Jan 8, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (142 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Homerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Perry, William G., Jr.main authorall editionsconfirmed
Savage, SteeleIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alberich i Mariné, JoanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Baskin, LeonardIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bendz, GerhardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Björkeson, IngvarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bruijn, J.C.Editorsecondary 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
Perry Jr., William GTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rees, EnnisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rieu, Emile VictorTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roberts, AdamIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rouse, William H. D.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Segalà i Estalella, LluísTranslatorsecondary 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

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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.
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[Prior description deleted. Note this field applies to the work and should not be used for edition-specific information]
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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 11 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)

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6 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

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


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