HomeGroupsTalkMoreZeitgeist
Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Loading...

The Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters (2014)

by Adam Nicolson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5181846,891 (4.14)46
"In this passionate, deeply personal book, Adam Nicolson explains why Homer matters-- to him, to you, to the world--in a text full of twists, turns and surprises. In a spectacular journey through mythical and modern landscapes, Adam Nicholson explores the places forever haunted by their Homeric heroes. From Sicily, awash with wildflowers shadowed by Italy's largest oil refinery, to Ithaca, southern Spain, and the mountains on the edges of Andalusia and Extremadura, to the deserted, irradiated steppes of Chernobyl, where Homeric warriors still lie under the tumuli, unexcavated. This is a world of springs and drought, seas and cities, with not a tourist in sight. And all sewn together by the poems themselves and their great metaphors of life and suffering. Showing us the real roots of Homeric consciousness, the physical environment that fills the gaps between the words of the poems themselves, Nicholson's is itself a Homeric journey. A wandering meditation on lost worlds, our interconnectedness with our ancestors, and the surroundings we share. This is the original meeting of place and mind, our empathy with the past, our landscape as our drama. Following the acclaimed Gentry, which established him as one of the great landscape writers working today, Nicholson takes Homer's poems back to their source: beneath the distant, god-inhabited mountains, on the Trojan plains above the graves of the heroic dead, we find afresh the foundation level of human experience on Earth"--… (more)
None
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 46 mentions

English (18)  Piratical (1)  All languages (19)
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
This book is an exploration of the themes in Homer's Iliad and Odyssey and how they may relate to later human history and the world today. His central thesis is that Homer's epics probably originate about a millennium earlier than the 8th century BC period to which most historians assign it, and the Trojan War earlier than the 13th century BC period. This is based on comparing events and background details in the epics with archaeological evidence of the arrival of the ancestors of the Greek people in their current homeland, leading to the clash of two very different peoples, the nomadic proto-Greeks and the city-based Trojans ("The idea I have pursued is that the Homeric poems are legends shaped around the arrival of a people – the people who through this very process would grow to be the Greeks – in what became their Mediterranean homeland"). He pursues some interesting evidence about words existing or not in the Proto Indo European (PIE) language, to draw conclusions about the probable place of origin of these proto-Greeks, for example in small, inland communities, given that there are no PIE words for city or sea.

This is fascinating stuff, but I was not really convinced that this shows the epics were penned as early as he says, given that it is generally accepted anyway that Homer was recording, in the then very new medium of writing, epics passed down in oral form from generation to generation for centuries beforehand. Other scholars have pointed out that, given the similarity of style, the two epics were probably written down by the same person consecutively, as the Odyssey is aware of the existence of the Iliad, but not vice versa - "The Odyssey, with extraordinary care, is shaped around the pre-existence of the Iliad. It fills in details that are absent from the earlier poem – the Trojan Horse, the death of Achilles – but never mentions anything that is described there".

Despite this very interesting exploration of historical, archaeological, cultural and linguistic issues, I had a problem with aspects of his writing style and choice of material. The language is often rather elaborate and I found some of the description overblown and too "stream of consciousness" for my liking. I didn't see the point of including some of his personal material, in particular the inclusion of an incident from his youth when he was raped by a stranger of his own age, which seemed entirely gratuitous to me. So I was left with rather mixed feelings about this book. ( )
  john257hopper | Jan 21, 2024 |
Well-written explication of Homer the poet and his relevance to today. Covering the ancient world and more the book provides food for thought for those of us who love reading and rereading the epics of Homer. ( )
  jwhenderson | Nov 17, 2023 |
A fine and deep investigation of Homer himself, the Iliad and the Odyssey. Included are discussions of the poems' meanings to the Comte de Saint-Victor, Goethe, Pope, Plato and Keats; the history of our understanding of who or what Homer was; a visit to Chios; Milman Parry and the use of formulaic phrases in epic poetry; the nature of the people who spoke the language that is the source of all of the Indo-European languages and their relationship to the source of the Iliad; relevant archaeological findings including those of Schliemann; a history of the bronze age; how the Greeks of the Iliad are sociologically like modern day teenage gangs;what the Egyptians and the Hittites thought of the bronze-age Greeks from their own writings...and all with many selections from the Iliad and Odyssey with the author's explanation of the original Greek and various published translations. Throughout this tour de force, the author tells us the importance of the poems to him personally and his opinion of their importance to all of us. ( )
  markm2315 | Jul 1, 2023 |
Horrible traducción
  loulourevisited | Jan 15, 2022 |
Marvelous book. I have wanted to read The Odyssey, interested in particular in the newest translation by Emily Wilson. I have attempted the Iliad and not got far. I picked up The Mighty Dead on a remainders table and it has hung around until the reading of Circe by Madeline Miller so enchanted me that I wanted to recommit to reading Homer. I know of myself that difficult works are sometimes made easier by reading something secondary to help orient myself. Beginning something, like The Iliad and The Odyssey, with a sense of why they are classics, why they are important, what they have meant and may mean can carry me through some of the difficulty. In short, The Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters fit this bill.
Nicholson approaches his question of why Homer matters from many angles, including historical, linguistic, and personal. He draws on his own experience of sailing and the sea. In a stunning section, he describes his victimization at the hands of a stranger in Syria. He explores other artistic representations of the life-world of the Greeks, and speculates (convincingly enough for me) about pre-historic encounters between peoples of the Northern Steppes and those of the more advanced cultures from the Middle East. Much of this was completely new to me and I think it a testament to the book and to Nicholson's writing that it all coheres, and fascinatingly so.
In the later chapters, I did struggle--but with my expectations and desires. As everyone knows, The Iliad is about a war and revels in bloodletting. I, being peaceable, don't like that and want it to be rejected and argued against (it seems a little childish, sentimental and high-minded, but there you have it). As Nicholson makes clear this is not what Homer is up to. So I squirmed through pages of detailed exploration of the violence committed, reveled in, the thoughts about where it comes from and why. As I read, I recognized that my discomfort reflects back on our own days of violence and inhumanity. I demand of Nicholson and Homer: What will you say against this?
In the Conclusion, the final four pages of the book, Nicholson explicitly acknowledges the problem, the discomfort we all must feel. He writes:

"Homer's embrace of wrongness, his depiction of a world that stands at a certain angle to virtue, is the heart of why we love him. He does not give us a set of exemplars. These poems are not sermons. We do not want Achilles or even Odysseus to be our model as men. Nor Penelope or Helen as women. Nor do we want to worship at the shrine of Bronze Age thuggery. What we want is Homeric wisdom, his fearless encounter with the dreadful, his love of love and hatred of death, the sheer scale of his embrace, his energy and brightness, his resistance to nostalgia..." P. 250. The entirety of these last four pages could bear quoting, but instead you can read the book.

Nicholson is a fine writer with an intimate tone that I liked. He connects so many strands across literature, language, history. The book has excellent notes and a bibliography that I want to explore. I highly recommend. ( )
  jdukuray | Jun 23, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
Here is a book on Homer that has been reviewed in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Slate, and the Guardian, among others, but not, as far as I know, in any classical journal. Yet it is an important book for classical scholars to read—not because it offers anything both new and true about Homer, but because it shows an educated, widely experienced person creating deeply felt meaning out of Homer and some strands of Homeric scholarship. Nicolson belongs in the tradition of great amateurs of Homer: Keats, Gladstone, Matthew Arnold, or T. E. Lawrence. His book shows what Homer can do.
 
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
Quotations
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

"In this passionate, deeply personal book, Adam Nicolson explains why Homer matters-- to him, to you, to the world--in a text full of twists, turns and surprises. In a spectacular journey through mythical and modern landscapes, Adam Nicholson explores the places forever haunted by their Homeric heroes. From Sicily, awash with wildflowers shadowed by Italy's largest oil refinery, to Ithaca, southern Spain, and the mountains on the edges of Andalusia and Extremadura, to the deserted, irradiated steppes of Chernobyl, where Homeric warriors still lie under the tumuli, unexcavated. This is a world of springs and drought, seas and cities, with not a tourist in sight. And all sewn together by the poems themselves and their great metaphors of life and suffering. Showing us the real roots of Homeric consciousness, the physical environment that fills the gaps between the words of the poems themselves, Nicholson's is itself a Homeric journey. A wandering meditation on lost worlds, our interconnectedness with our ancestors, and the surroundings we share. This is the original meeting of place and mind, our empathy with the past, our landscape as our drama. Following the acclaimed Gentry, which established him as one of the great landscape writers working today, Nicholson takes Homer's poems back to their source: beneath the distant, god-inhabited mountains, on the Trojan plains above the graves of the heroic dead, we find afresh the foundation level of human experience on Earth"--

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

LibraryThing Early Reviewers Alum

Adam Nicolson's book Why Homer Matters was available from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

Current Discussions

None

Popular covers

Quick Links

Rating

Average: (4.14)
0.5
1 1
1.5
2 1
2.5
3 9
3.5 5
4 24
4.5 7
5 23

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 204,083,047 books! | Top bar: Always visible