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With A to Z Classics, discover or rediscover all the classics of literature. Contains Active Table of Contents (HTML) and ​in the end of book include a bonus link to the free audiobook. Translated into English Blank Verse by William Cowper. The Iliad is, together with the Odyssey, one of two ancient Greek epic poems traditionally attributed to Homer. The poem is commonly date With A to Z Classics, discover or rediscover all the classics of literature. Contains Active Table of Contents (HTML) and ​in the end of book include a bonus link to the free audiobook. Translated into English Blank Verse by William Cowper. The Iliad is, together with the Odyssey, one of two ancient Greek epic poems traditionally attributed to Homer. The poem is commonly dated to the late 9th or to the 8th century BC, and many scholars believe it is the oldest extant work of literature in the ancient Greek language, making it one of the first works of ancient Greek literature. The existence of a single author for the poems is disputed as the poems themselves show evidence of a long oral tradition and hence, possible multiple authors .


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With A to Z Classics, discover or rediscover all the classics of literature. Contains Active Table of Contents (HTML) and ​in the end of book include a bonus link to the free audiobook. Translated into English Blank Verse by William Cowper. The Iliad is, together with the Odyssey, one of two ancient Greek epic poems traditionally attributed to Homer. The poem is commonly date With A to Z Classics, discover or rediscover all the classics of literature. Contains Active Table of Contents (HTML) and ​in the end of book include a bonus link to the free audiobook. Translated into English Blank Verse by William Cowper. The Iliad is, together with the Odyssey, one of two ancient Greek epic poems traditionally attributed to Homer. The poem is commonly dated to the late 9th or to the 8th century BC, and many scholars believe it is the oldest extant work of literature in the ancient Greek language, making it one of the first works of ancient Greek literature. The existence of a single author for the poems is disputed as the poems themselves show evidence of a long oral tradition and hence, possible multiple authors .

30 review for The Iliad of Homer ( Active TOC, Free Audiobook) (A to Z Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Emily May

    3½ stars Two mysteries were solved by my finally finishing The Iliad. 1) It is so obvious why these Ancient Greek stories have survived for so many years-- it's all gory violence and sex. Homer tapped into these marketing tools early. 2) I now understand why puritanical attitudes toward female sexuality developed. Pretty much everything bad that happens is caused by Helen of Troy - "slut that I am" - running off with Paris, and Hera seducing Zeus. The ancients must have read this and been like " 3½ stars Two mysteries were solved by my finally finishing The Iliad. 1) It is so obvious why these Ancient Greek stories have survived for so many years-- it's all gory violence and sex. Homer tapped into these marketing tools early. 2) I now understand why puritanical attitudes toward female sexuality developed. Pretty much everything bad that happens is caused by Helen of Troy - "slut that I am" - running off with Paris, and Hera seducing Zeus. The ancients must have read this and been like "please, girls, just... don't". Also: It seems I may have been too harsh with Sarah J. Maas and her mist-rising, earth-shaking sex scenes. Clearly she was channeling Homer: “The son of Cronus spoke and took his wife in his arms; and the divine earth sent up spring flowers beneath them, dewy clover and crocuses and a soft and crowded bed of hyacinths, to lift them off the ground. In this they lay, covered by a beautiful golden cloud, from which a rain of glistening dewdrops fell.” It's taken me so long to read this because, every time I tried to start, I kept comparing it to The Odyssey, which I like much more. Odysseus's journey and encounters with creatures such as cannibal giants are very entertaining. And, when it comes down to it, I can only enjoy so many war scenes. Seeing as The Iliad is all about the Trojan War, there are a lot of war scenes. BUT it is saved by the Greek gods. What a ridiculous bickering soap opera the Greek pantheon is. I genuinely burst out laughing multiple times. I like the Greek gods because they are so flawed and jealous and vindictive and, um, human. Hera, especially, is a piece of work. I love her. Sometimes you have to wonder what was going through the heads of Ancient Greeks when this is how they imagined their gods. From Hera calling Artemis a "shameless bitch" like something out of Mean Girls, to all the gods supporting their favourite team (Greek or Trojan) in the war like it's a damn football match. The Iliad gets better in the last eight books. It is more of a struggle in the beginning (mainly books 4-13) because there are some pages that blend together in a stream of similar-sounding Greek and Trojan men stabbing each other with spears. Often in the nipple or buttocks, too, which seems… peculiar. I'll stop being silly, though. It is a remarkable - if admittedly sexist - work. It's strange to think how themes and values that were important 3,000 years ago are still important today. I don't know if Homerian spoilers are a thing, but I'll just say that the one death, the death of the story can still be felt so very deeply all these years after its writing. The only thing more tragic than losing the one you love most is knowing you could have prevented it. I was disappointed my library didn’t have the Caroline Alexander translation, which is the first English translation by a woman, but Rieu’s Translation was fantastic. Very smooth reading, unlike another recent read of mine - The Epic of Gilgamesh. I'm glad I finally read it. Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

  2. 5 out of 5

    Grace Tjan

    What I learned from this book (in no particular order): 1. Victory or defeat in ancient Greek wars is primarily the result of marital spats and/or petty sibling rivalry in Zeus and Hera’s dysfunctional divine household. 2. Zeus “the father of gods and men” is a henpecked husband who is also partial to domestic abuse. 3. If you take a pretty girl who is the daughter of a priest of Apollo as war booty and refuse to have her ransomed, Apollo will rain plague on your troops. And he won’t be appeased un What I learned from this book (in no particular order): 1. Victory or defeat in ancient Greek wars is primarily the result of marital spats and/or petty sibling rivalry in Zeus and Hera’s dysfunctional divine household. 2. Zeus “the father of gods and men” is a henpecked husband who is also partial to domestic abuse. 3. If you take a pretty girl who is the daughter of a priest of Apollo as war booty and refuse to have her ransomed, Apollo will rain plague on your troops. And he won’t be appeased until you return the girl and throw him a ginormous BBQ party involving hundreds of cattle at his temple. 4. If an arrow or a spear were thrown at you in battle, more often than not, it would land on your nipple or thereabout. Or alternatively, it would pierce your helmet and splatter your brain. 5. Paris is a proper guy’s name, not just a name for capital cities or bratty heiresses. 6. Brad Pitt in man skirt* Achilles is the badassest warrior there ever was. 7. Real men eat red meat, specifically: a. sheep chines; b. fat goats; and c. the long back cuts of a full-grown pig, marbled with lard. 8. The most valuable booty are (in no particular order): a. bronze tripods (each worth 12 oxens) and armors; b. swift war stallions; and c. pretty women (each worth 4 oxens, if also skilled in crafts). Lesbians are particularly prized. 9. There is nothing more glorious for a warrior than to sack enemy cities, plunder their wealth, kill all their men, bed their pretty women and enslave their children. 10. The only men who matter are warriors, but if you are a woman, the range of roles that you could play is rather more diverse. You could be: a. a runaway wife who sparks a cosmic battle between your thuggish hubby’s city-state and your cowardly boyfriend’s (1); b. a war booty with a bad case of Stockholm Syndrome (2); c. a manipulative uber bitch (who also happens to be a goddess) (3); d. a long-suffering wife and mother (4). (1) Helen (2) Briseis (3) Hera (4) Andromache But whatever role you choose to play, you will still be the bone of contention between men and the armies that they lead. All the major conflicts in the story are triggered by women, or specifically by their sexuality: Helen’s elopement with Paris launched a thousand Argive ships against Troy; Agamemnon’s desire to bed Briseis, Achilles’ lawful prize, caused a nearly unhealable rift between them; and Hector’s desire to protect his wife from the dismal fate of being an Argive sex slave inspired him to fight Achilles to the death. Homer’s mortal women might be meek and mild, but his goddesses can kick ass with the best of them, and even occasionally best their male counterparts: Zeus is not above being manipulated by Hera, and Ares the God of War actually got whacked on the head by Athena. *Troy, Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Warner Bros. 2004. What I find most surprising about the Iliad is the amount of graphic, X-rated violence that it contains. The violence is not the biblical slaying and smiting, but something much more voyeuristically gory: “…the one Peneleos lanced beneath the brows, down to the eyes' roots and scooped an eyeball out --- the spear cut clean through the socket, out behind the nape and backward down he sat, both hands stretched wide as Peneleos, quickly drawing his whetted sword, hacked him square in the neck and lopped his head and down on the ground it tumbled, helmet and all. But the big spear's point still stuck in the eye socket ---." I imagine that this kind of anatomically precise, brain-splattering, gut-spilling action scenes made the Iliad popular with the Romans, who routinely went to the Colosseum to watch gladiators hack each other to death, but there is only so much of it that I could take in one sitting, which is why it took me almost three months to finish it. It is not that I’m particularly sensitive to fictional death and dismemberment --- and after all, this book is a war book --- but the sheer amount of such scenes, as well as their mind-numbing repetitiveness made for tedious reading. It doesn’t help that many of these deaths happened to seemingly throwaway characters, barely introduced in three or four lines, merely to be summarily (and gorily) dispatched in another half a dozen lines on the same page. The Iliad is assumed to be the written version of a much older oral poem, and such characters might represent collective memories of real Bronze Age warriors, but by Zeus, hundreds of pages of them being hacked, cleaved and skewered to death almost did me in. Now, what is the purpose of such meticulously catalogued carnage? Was Homer trying to present War with all its attendant horrors to shock his audience into pacifism? Or was the old guy just trying to write an 8th century BCE equivalent of a blockbuster action-adventure movie with enough gore to satisfy his young male demographic? The Iliad both celebrates and laments the warrior spirit: the haughty pride and terrible thirst for vengeance and plunder that set men to distant shores, intent on razing cities and putting its inhabitants to slaughter, but also the stark, tragic consequences of such acts. I actually find the gods’ politicking and manipulations more interesting than the actual war. The Greek gods are blissfully free of any human notion of morality --- which makes the problem of theodicy much more simpler to solve than in the Judeo-Christian model. The Olympian gods do not move in mysterious ways: they are moved by caprice and petty grievances. Why did we suffer such an ignominious defeat, despite all that we had done to win Zeus’ favor? Well, it happened that just before the battle was about to begin, Hera seduced him and subsequently put him to sleep with the help of Hypnos, whom she bribed with one of the Graces. A perfectly logical and very human explanation. The story gets much more interesting in the last five books. The Olympian gods entered into the fray and the effect is sometimes like watching WWE SmackDown: “Bloody Ares lunged at it now with giant lance and Athena backed away, her powerful hand hefting a boulder off the plain, black, jagged, a ton weight that men in the old days planted there to make off plowland --- Pallas hurled that boundary-stone at Ares, struck his neck, loosed his limbs, and down he crashed and out over seven acres sprawled the enormous god and his mane dragged in the dust.” Or maybe an episode of Super Friends : “How do you have the gall, you shameless bitch, to stand and fight me here? …. But since you’d like a lesson in warfare, Artemis, just to learn, to savor how much stronger I am when you engage my power ---“ The gods are “deathless”, so you know that there won’t be any lasting harm from their catfight, but the cost of battle to all too mortal men is heavy indeed. This was a time when war was as elemental as they come: no mercy was shown to the enemy on the battlefield, save one that pertained to a warrior’s honor, which was to be buried with full honors by his family and comrades. When mighty, “stallion-breaking” Hector finally succumbed to Achilles in a strangely anticlimactic duel, his father Priam went to Achilles’ camp and “kneeling down beside Achilles, clasped his knees and kissed his hands, those terrible, man-killing hands that had slaughtered Priam’s many sons in battle.” Troy’s old king begged for his son’s body, and in the magnificent, poignant last book, Homer showed us the real cost of war, both on the vanquished and the triumphant. By the will of the gods, Achilles’ death would soon follow: his destiny was ultimately no different from the rest of tragic humanity, fated to suffer and die by callous, immoral gods for causes that were entirely beyond their ken. “So the immortals spun our lives that we, we wretched men live on to bear such torments ---“

  3. 4 out of 5

    J.G. Keely

    Pablo Picasso spent his entire life trying desperately to do something new, something unique. He moved from style to style, mastering and then abandoning both modern and classical methods, even trying to teach his trained artist's hand to paint like a child. In 1940, four French teens and a dog stumbled upon a cave that had lain hidden for 16,000 years. Inside, they found the walls covered in beautiful drawings of men and animals. When the Lascaux caves were opened to the public, Pablo Picasso vi Pablo Picasso spent his entire life trying desperately to do something new, something unique. He moved from style to style, mastering and then abandoning both modern and classical methods, even trying to teach his trained artist's hand to paint like a child. In 1940, four French teens and a dog stumbled upon a cave that had lain hidden for 16,000 years. Inside, they found the walls covered in beautiful drawings of men and animals. When the Lascaux caves were opened to the public, Pablo Picasso visited them, and as he stared at the prehistoric hunting scenes, was heard to remark in a despondent tone: "We have invented nothing". The Iliad is equally as humbling to a writer, as complex, beautiful, and honest as any other work. The war scenes play out like a modern film, gory and fast-paced, the ever-present shock of death. Though some have been annoyed at how each man is named (or even given a past) before his death, this gives weight to the action. Each death is has consequence, and as each man steps onto the stage to meet glory or death, Homer gives us a moment to recognize him, to see him amidst the whirling action, and to witness the fate Zeus metes. The psychological complexity and humanism of this work often shocked me. Homer's depiction of human beings as fundamentally flawed and unable to direct their own lives predicts existentialism. The even hand he gives both the Trojans and the Argives places his work above the later moralizing allegories of Turold, Tasso, or even Milton. Of course, Homer's is a different world than theirs, one where the sword has not yet become a symbol for righteousness. In Homer, good men die unavenged, and bad men make their way up in the world. Noble empires fall to ravenous fire and the corpses of fresh-limbed young men are desecrated. Fate does not favor the kind, the weak, the moral, or even the strong. Fate favors some men now, others later, and in the end, none escapes the emptiness of death. Though Homer paints some men as great, as noble and kind and brave, these men do not uphold these ideals for some promised paradise, but simply because they are such men. There is something refreshing in the purity of the philosophy of living life for yourself and yet expecting no entitlement for your deeds. A philosophy which accepts the uncontrollable winds of fate; that when the dark mist comes across our eyes, no man knows whence he goes. Later traditions make other claims: that the righteous will be rewarded, that the lives of good men will be good and the bad will be punished. In thousands of years of thinking, of writing, of acting, have we gained nothing but comforting, untenable ideals? Then Picasso was wrong, we have invented something, but it is only a machine which perpetuates itself by peddling self-satisfaction. I read and enjoyed the Fagles translation, which may not be the most faithful, but strikes that oft-discussed balance between joy of reading and fidelity. He makes no attempt to translate the meter into English, which is a blessing to us. The English language does a few meters well, and Homer's is not one of them. The footnotes were competent and interesting, though I could have stood a few more of them; perhaps I am in the minority. I also thoroughly enjoyed Knox's introductory essay. I would normally have had to research the scholarly history of the book myself, and so Knox's catch-me-up was much appreciated.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Fergus

    Everyone knows the Iliad. And everyone talks about it. But here, I only want to discuss one forgotten element of it. An element ESSENTIAL to constructing a valid modern worldview - for EACH of us. I always avoided applying this element to my daily life. But I was wrong - so wrong. Rei Pasa! Those two words sum it all up. They were written by a Greek gentleman who was roughly the contemporary of Homer - Heraclitus, the ancient pre-Socratic philosopher. Rei pasa - everything changes. Inevitably. As Her Everyone knows the Iliad. And everyone talks about it. But here, I only want to discuss one forgotten element of it. An element ESSENTIAL to constructing a valid modern worldview - for EACH of us. I always avoided applying this element to my daily life. But I was wrong - so wrong. Rei Pasa! Those two words sum it all up. They were written by a Greek gentleman who was roughly the contemporary of Homer - Heraclitus, the ancient pre-Socratic philosopher. Rei pasa - everything changes. Inevitably. As Heraclitus explains elsewhere, “You can’t step into the same river twice!” EVERYTHING is in movement. So it is with Homer. In this epic, everything takes place In Medias Res - right, smack dab in the middle of the chaos of everyday life. That’s where we all start in our OWN lives. And finish. And that’s the ONLY place we’ll ever find Peace. Now, that seems odd, doesn’t it? And it seemed that way for me, too... Back in 1985 I was harried to the Max by my new furiously high-powered career. I couldn’t find any place of peace in my life. That’s the year I started to find solace in Eastern philosophy and New Age Music. Hey, with this stuff you could get blissed-out in no time! So I weakly thought. But then the frenetic pace of the workplace sped up. And kept accelerating - all the way to retirement. I felt trapped. By 1999 I was burning out. I was frazzled. Fried. But on an April day exactly twenty years ago I realized I had no choice but to let it all go - and give it to God. THAT was when I really knew what In Medias Res REALLY meant. It’s not OUR world. It’s His! Let Him do what He wants for a change - and sit back for the RIDE OF YOUR LIFE. You’ll never experience the eternal mutability of life until you get to that point. There’s just NO WAY - because otherwise YOU, solid, ‘unchanging’ you, are always center stage! You have to let it go - and give it away. Just like Achilles loses it - and becomes his Fate. And that’s why Homer is so colossal. There’s just no other way to peace - At the Eye of the Storm!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Ἰλιάς = The Iliad, Homer The Iliad is an ancient Greek epic poem in dactylic hexameter, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy (Ilium) by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles. Characters: Ajax, Odysseus, Helen of Troy, Menelaus, Paris, Hector, Achilles, Agamemnon, Aeneas, Sarpedon, Priam, Cassandra, Patroclus, Diomedes, Ajax Oileus, Ἰλιάς = The Iliad, Homer The Iliad is an ancient Greek epic poem in dactylic hexameter, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy (Ilium) by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles. Characters: Ajax, Odysseus, Helen of Troy, Menelaus, Paris, Hector, Achilles, Agamemnon, Aeneas, Sarpedon, Priam, Cassandra, Patroclus, Diomedes, Ajax Oileus, Andromache, Briseis, Hecuba, Nestor, Akhilleus تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز نخست ماه ژانویه سال 1973میلادی عنوان: ایلیاد؛ شاعر: هومر؛ مترجم: سعید نفیسی؛ تهران، بنگاه ترجمه و نشر کتاب، 1334؛ در 720ص؛ موضوع: داستان جنگ تروا - سده 08پیش از میلاد عنوان: ایلیاد؛ شاعر: هومر، مترجم: میرجلال الدین کزّازی؛ تهران، نشر مرکز، 1377؛ در 579ص؛ شابک 9643053865؛ چاپ دوم 1381؛ چاپ پنجم 1385؛ چاپ ششم 1387؛ شابک 9789643053864؛ موضوع: داستانهای کهن از نویسندگان یونانی - سده 08پیش از میلاد اثر حماسی از «هومر»، شاعر نابینای یونانی ست، داستان جنگ «تروا»، بخاطر ربودن «هلن»، زن زیباروی «منلاس»، یکی از فرمانروایان یونان، به دست «پاریس» پسر «پریام»، شاه «ایلیون (تروا)» است، خواستگاران «هلن»، باهم پیمان بسته بودند، که چنانچه گزندی به «هلن» رسید، شوی او را برای مکافات مجرم یاری دهند؛ از اینروی سپاهی بزرگ، به فرماندهی «آگاممنون»، و با حضور پهلوانانی همچون: «آشیل»، «اولیس»، «پاتروکل»، «آیاس (آژاکس) »و...؛ آراستند، و به سوی شهر «تروا» روانه شدند، تا «هلن» را از «پاریس» بازپس بگیرند؛ سپاهیان یونان، ده سال «تروا» را محاصره کردند، ولی با رشادتهای پهلوانان «تروا»، به ویژه «هکتور» بزرگترین پسر شاه، و برادر «پاریس»، و پشتیبانی خدایانی همچون «زئوس»، «آفرودیت»، و «آپولون» طرفی نبستند؛ در آن سالها «آشیل»، بزرگوارترین پشتوانه ی یونانیان با «آگاممنون» اختلاف داشت، جبهه را رها کرده، و در گوشه ای، به همراه یاران خویش، نبرد را تماشا میکرد؛ تا اینکه «پاتروکل» پسرعموی «آشیل»، با لباس و جنگ ابزار آسمانی «آشیل»، به نبرد رفت؛ ولی با نیرنگ «زئوس»، و دشمنی «آپولون»، و دیگر خدایان هوادار «تروا»، «پاتروکل» شکست خورد، و به دست «هکتور» کشته شد؛ «آشیل» از آن رویداد خشمگین شد، و اختلافش با «آگاممنون» را کنار بگذاشت، و پس از تشییع جنازه ی «پاتروکل»، به نبرد تن به تن با «هکتور» پرداخت، و او را شکست داد سپس به جنازه ی «هکتور» بی احترامی روا داشت، و آنرا با خود به اردوگاه یونانیان آورد؛ «پریام» شاه «تروا»، به یاری خدایان، شبانه خود را به اردوگاه «آشیل» رساند، و با زاری از او درخواست کرد، که جنازه ی پسرش را به او برگردانند، تا بتواند مراسمی در خور بزرگی پهلوان حماسه ساز ترتیب دهد؛ پس از گفتگوی بسیار، «آشیل» پذیرفت؛ داستان «ایلیاد» اثر «هومر»، با توصیف سوزاندن «هکتور» در «تروا»، و به سوگ نشستن مردمان شهر، برای «هکتور» به پایان میرسد؛ در کتاب: «ایلیاد»، و همچنین در کتاب دیگر «هومر»: «اودیسه»، هرگز اشاره و سخنی از نحوه ی پایان نبرد «تروا»، و سرنوشت تراژیک «آشیل» نیست؛ داستانهای «اسب تروا»، در آثار نویسندگان رومی، همچون «ویرژیل»، و «اووید» آمده است، و افسانه ی رویین تن بودن «آشیل» و ماجرای پاشنه ی «آشیل» او را نیز، که به مرگش میانجامد، شاعر «رمی» سده ی نخست میلادی «استاتیوس»، در کتاب خود با عنوان: «آشیلید»، برای نخستین بار آراسته، و به آن داستان، پرداخته است تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 28/06/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی

  6. 4 out of 5

    jessica

    as a native english speaker, im not exposed to translated books very often; so this reread is the first time where i have truly comprehended the significance of a translation and how it can either make or break a story. i first read parts of ‘the iliad’ back when i was in school and i just remember the text being very stiff and formal. it did not hold my attention at all because i couldnt understand it. but as i have come to love this story over the years (through retellings and other media), i as a native english speaker, im not exposed to translated books very often; so this reread is the first time where i have truly comprehended the significance of a translation and how it can either make or break a story. i first read parts of ‘the iliad’ back when i was in school and i just remember the text being very stiff and formal. it did not hold my attention at all because i couldnt understand it. but as i have come to love this story over the years (through retellings and other media), i decided to give this another try. after a lot of research, i chose this edition and translation, and i cannot stress enough how it has made all the difference. the epic of ‘the iliad’ has its roots in oral storytelling and i am so impressed at how the flow of the language in this feels like someone is sitting next to me, personally telling me a tale about the best of greeks and their plight against the trojans. its a really neat feeling to experience such an authentic nod to homer and how he told this story, almost to the point where i feel as if i have been a part of this epics great history. ↠ 5 stars

  7. 5 out of 5

    Greta

    Is the Trojan War History or Fiction? Paris kidnaps Helena from Sparta to Troy - Their love affair starts the war The Iliad plays during the Trojan War; the legendary conflict between the Greeks (Achaeans) and the people of Troy. Prince Paris, son of the king of Troja, fell in love with Helena, wife of the king of Sparta, Menelaus. When Paris and Helena secretly take off together to Troy, Menelaus is furious, which is why his brother Agamemnon then leads the attack of the Greek army against Troy Is the Trojan War History or Fiction? Paris kidnaps Helena from Sparta to Troy - Their love affair starts the war The Iliad plays during the Trojan War; the legendary conflict between the Greeks (Achaeans) and the people of Troy. Prince Paris, son of the king of Troja, fell in love with Helena, wife of the king of Sparta, Menelaus. When Paris and Helena secretly take off together to Troy, Menelaus is furious, which is why his brother Agamemnon then leads the attack of the Greek army against Troy, intending to take Helena back. Achilles is the greatest warrior in the Achean army and has explosive confrontations with Agamemnon, his chief-commander. The Iliad explores the reality of war throughout the ages and the fate of every life affected by it. Achilles Achilles is the strongest warrior of the Greek army with just one weakness - his heel Achilles is the strongest warrior, hero and most successful soldier in the Greek army, with not just noble but also divine heritage. Achilles immortal goddess mother Thetis dipped him in a magic river, making his entire body invulnerable except for the part of his foot where she held him. That is why it was prophesied that the Greeks could not win the war without Achilles. But Paris kills him by shooting Achilles in the heel with an arrow, the only vulnerable place of his body. Thereby the term „Achilles heel“ became popular, meaning a weakness in spite of overall strength, which can lead to downfall - or simply the atomic body part. Achilles possesses superhuman strength, has a close relationship with the gods and all the marks of a great warrior. But though he proves to be the mightiest man in the Achaean army, he can‘t control his pride, wrath, bloodlust or rage. He abandons his comrades and even prays that the Trojans will slaughter them, just because his commander Agamemnon insulted him. Achilles is driven primarily by a thirst for glory, which collides with his desire to live a long, easy life and ultimately he sacrifices everything else so that his name will be remembered. Though the death of Achilles is not described in the Iliad, his funeral is mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey. Agamemnon Agamemnon is the chief commander of the Greek army and struggles with Achilles denying service Agamemnon is chief-commander of the Achaean army and demands that Achilles surrenders his war prize to him, his slave and concubine Briseis, because he had to return his own - Chryseis. This insulting demand causes Achilles to withdraw angrily from battle, causing death and defeat for the Greek army. Agamemnon is not unlike Achilles, as he has a similarly hot temper and prideful streak, though he isn‘t nearly as strong. The suffering their dispute causes for the Greek army owes as much to Agamemnon’s stubbornness as to that of Achilles. But Agamemnon’s pride makes him more arrogant than Achilles, as Achilles pride only kindles after it is injured, while Agamemnon uses every opportunity to make others feel the effects of his. He always expects the largest portions of the plunder, even though he takes the fewest risks in battle. Additionally, he insists upon leading the army, even though his brother Menelaus possesses the real wrath against the Trojans, as his wife was stolen by Paris. While Achilles remains fiercely devoted to those who love him but just as devotedly vicious to those who harm him, Agamemnon remains fundamentally concerned with himself, and has the cunning to manipulate people or situations for his own benefit. Whereas Achilles is wholly consumed by his emotions, Agamemnon demonstrates a deft ability to keep himself—and others—under control. When he commits wrongs, he does so not out of blind rage and frustration like Achilles, but out of amoral, self-serving cunning. Celebrating War The poem functions as war propaganda - it depicts warfare as a respectable and glorious manner of settling a dispute. The Iliad celebrates war, as a character‘s worth is based on their degree of competence and bravery in battle. Paris, for instant, causes the war but doesn’t like to fight, which is why he correspondingly receives the scorn of both his family and Helena. Achilles, on the other hand, explicitly rejects the option of a long, comfortable, uneventful life at home with his aging father, in exchange for eternal glory and remembrance at Troy. Homer frequently forces his characters to choose between love and glory, the most heroic characters invariably choosing the latter. The gravity of their decisions is emphasized by the fact that each knows his fate ahead of time. The characters strive so aggressively for honor, noble bravery, and glory that they willingly sacrifice the chance to live a long life with those they love. The poem also admires warlike divinities such as Athena, while it creates scenes of comic relief using the shyness of Aphrodite and Artemis, who run from aggression. To fight in battle proves one‘s honor and integrity and to avoid warfare demonstrates laziness, disloyal fear, or misaligned priorities. In the meantime The Iliad doesn’t ignore the realities of war, as men die gruesome deaths, women become slaves and concubines and a plague breaks out excruciatingly decimating the Achaean army. But even the most celebrated warriors occasionally experience fear in the face of these horrors and both armies regret that the war ever began. But even though Achilles points out that all men meet the same death in the end, the poem never asks the reader to question the legitimacy of war. The poem rather depicts warfare as a respectable and glorious manner of settling the justifiable dispute. Considering that the poem was created around 800 BC, it became the basis for our ideas about social roles and consensus of that time. The Fall of Troy The walls of Troy fall after 10 years - but only after Odysseus thinks of the Trojan Horse After a fruitless 10-year siege the Achaean commanders are almost ready to give up, because they are unable to penetrate the walls of Troy. But then Odysseus constructs a plan that will allow them to bypass the walls, whilst building a massive, hollow, wooden horse. A contingent of warriors, including Odysseus hides insight the horse, while the rest of the Achaeans burn their camps and sail away from Troy, secretly waiting in their ships behind a nearby island. Early the next morning the Trojans discover the gigantic horse and capture an Achaean soldier, whom they take prisoner. As set up by Odysseus, the soldier claims that the wooden horse would be a presents from the Greeks to Athena (the Goddess of warfare), because they angered her. He elaborates that it would bring them mischief if they should destroy it, but Athena‘s protection if they would possess it. Despite warnings the Trojan king believes the story and the massive horse is wheeled into the city. That night, Odysseus and his men slip out of the horse, kill the Trojan guards, and fling open the gates of Troy to the Achaean army, which has meanwhile approached the city again. The Achaeans massacre the citizens of Troy, carry off its women, plunder the city’s riches, and burn the buildings to the ground. Helena, whose loyalties have shifted back since Paris’s death, returns to Menelaus, and the Achaeans set sail for home. What happened to many of the hero‘s after the war occupies an important space in Greek mythology. That Odysseus will spend another ten years trying to return to his wife in a tormenting sea ride is topic of The Odyssey. Helena and Menelaus have a long and dangerous voyage back to their home in Sparta, with a long stay in Egypt. As told in The Odyssey, Odysseus son Telemachus travels to Sparta in search of his father and finds Helena and Menelaus celebrating the marriage of their daughter, Hermione. Greek Mythology Aphrodite initiates the abduction of Helena - (by Francesco Primaticcio) The war was overshadowed by a conflict of the gods. Helena was the immortal daughter of Zeus (king of gods) and the mortal Leda (queen of Sparta) and described as the most beautiful woman in the world. When she was supposed to get married a competition between her suitors began and a quarrel between the gods was feared. That‘s why Odysseus was given the task to solve the problem. He proposed that, before the decision was made, all the suitors should swear an oath to defend the chosen husband against whoever should quarrel with him. After the suitors had sworn not to retaliate, Menelaus was chosen to be Helen's husband. Helena and Menelaus became rulers of Sparta, after Helenas parents abdicated. Then one day Zeus held a party to celebrate the marriage of the parents of Achilles. Eris (goddess of discord) was not invited, but angered attended anyway with a golden apple that was supposed to be for the most beautiful woman. The three goddesses Hera (sister/wife of Zeus and goddess of family), her daughter Athena (goddess of wisdom and warfare/ patron of protection) and Aphrodite (goddess of love) claimed the apple. To solve the dispute Zeus picked prince Paris. Paris was the mortal son of the king and queen of Troja, whose birth was interpreted as a foretelling of the downfall of Troy and a sign that the boy should be killed. Instead the boy was secretly spared and raised by a herdsman, before he found his way back to his parents and real identity. When having to decide to whom to give the apple to, Hera offers to make him king of Europe and Asia, Athena offers wisdom and skill in war, and Aphrodite offers him the world's most beautiful woman. Paris picked Aphrodite and came to visit Helena and her husband King Menelaus, at a time when Troy was at peace with Greece. Aphrodite spelled Paris, so that he would be irresistible to Helena, who instantly fell in love with him and send Menelaus on a trip to a different island. If Helena‘s departure with Paris was an abduction or an elopement is ambiguous. In the night Paris took Helena away to the walled city of Troy and when Menelaus heard of his wife's kidnapping, he called all of the kings of Greece to help attack Troy. Because Paris angered Hera and Athena with not giving the apple to them, they fight on the side of the Greeks, giving them the divine protection and the power of warfare, whilst having Achilles on their side. The marriage of Helena to Menelaus and the embedded Trojan War marks the beginning of Zeu‘s plan to end of the age of heroes. Was the Trojan War Real? Troy can be geographically located - but if the Trojan War ever occurred is questionable Troy is set in western Anatolia around the 12th or 13th century BC but there has been much debate over historical evidence of the Trojan War. Findings of the German archeologist Heinrich Schliemann in the late 19th in Turkey suggest that the city of Troy did exist but that a ten-year conflict may not have actually occurred. There is also contention over whether the ruins in Turkey represent the same Troy as the one Homer described. For most ancient Greeks the Trojan War was more than a myth, but an epoch-defining moment in their past, a real event. The Romans even went so far as to present themselves as the descendants of the surviving Trojans. It‘s not surprising that people believed in the reality of the Trojan War, as the Iliad described the grim realities of battle so unflinchingly, and Troy is portrayed in such vivid colors, that it‘s hard to believe they weren‘t based on observation and to not be transported to its magnificent walls. The Greeks found in the legacy of the Trojan War an explanation for the bloody and inferior world in which they lived. Homer’s genius was to elevate universal conflicts into something more profound, to highlight the realities of warfare. There were no gods influencing the course of action on the battlefields, but men who found themselves overwhelmed in a bloody fray could well have imagined there were, as the tide turned against them. Homer captured timeless truths in even the most fantastical moments of the poem. Achilles and Odysseus had inhabited an age of heroes. Their age had now died, leaving behind it all the bloodthirstiness, but none of the heroism or martial excellence, of the Trojan War. Both the Iliad and the Odyssey, are one of the first works of ancient Greek literature, traditionally attributed to Homer, even though the existence of a single author and the reality of events is heavily debated. “Let me not then die ingloriously and without a struggle, but let me first do some great thing that shall be told among men hereafter.” It‘s just thanks to the Iliad and the Odyssey that I started to look into the Trojan War and Greek mythology. Homer invented the Greek gods we are familiar with. I never thought I would be interested in the topic but now I‘m completely fascinated and want to read more about it and maybe also Rome. I also noticed that J.K. Rowling was majorly influenced by Homer and therefore the entire Harry Potter universe. I finally understand references spread over the centuries, whether it is Goethe, James Joyce, Atwood and countless others. I very much want to advice you to start with the Iliad, as it comes first in the timeline, introduces the character of Odysseys and provides the context needed to get the most out of it. If you are scared by the poetry format, simply choose a textual version, but don‘t deny yourself the story. Knowing Homer honestly is mandatory if you‘re interested in literature and want to understand bigger pictures.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Meredith Holley

    At my college graduation, the speaker was a gruff professor. He was one of those older men whom people somewhat patronizingly describe as a teddy bear to convey the idea that while he looks like Santa Claus, they wouldn’t be surprised to see him arraigned on assault charges at the local courthouse. I liked this professor in general, and his graduation speech was a grand: warm congratulations on a crisp early-summer day. He decided to inform us, however, that anyone who had not read The Iliad and At my college graduation, the speaker was a gruff professor. He was one of those older men whom people somewhat patronizingly describe as a teddy bear to convey the idea that while he looks like Santa Claus, they wouldn’t be surprised to see him arraigned on assault charges at the local courthouse. I liked this professor in general, and his graduation speech was a grand: warm congratulations on a crisp early-summer day. He decided to inform us, however, that anyone who had not read The Iliad and The Odyssey should not be graduating from college. I was one of those lucky (lucky?) folks, like an illiterate kid graduating from high school. I decided to rectify the situation as soon as possible, and I spent an indefinite number of hours in the next few, sunny weeks laying in a hammock on my porch, the boy I loved commiserating with me about this wonderful book. It is a warm, sharp memory. That was mumble mumble years ago, and this summer, I thought that since I just graduated again, I would read it again. It was a good choice. Warm, summer days in the hammock with limb-chopping, flashing helms, and mountain goats rushing down the hillside. I can’t find this quote I’m thinking of, but I’m pretty sure it’s from Beowulf, and it goes something like, “Brave men should seek fame in foreign lands.” Google does not think that quote exists, so maybe I dreamed it, which is really neither here nor there, but kind of weird. Something about that quote, about this book, and about the way this book reminds me of that quote, makes my blood beat close to my skin. I get this feeling that my heart grows too big for my ribs, and my eyeballs get tight, as though I’m going to cry. But, my heart doesn’t pound, and no tears come. That is how this book feels to me. This story is about what Homer doesn’t describe as much as what he does, and reading it evokes some kind of mirroring response from my body. The Iliad is the almost-death of Achilles, the almost-destruction of Troy, and reading it is an almost-panic-attack, an almost-sob. It is the absent top step in a flight of stairs. But, oh man, that flight of stairs. How do you even make that? It’s not possible to spoil this story because Homer is always one step ahead, tripping you up about what story he’s telling. So, just because I think it’s fun (and, also because it seems kind of absurd to write a “review” of The Iliad, so I’m wandering in the dark here), I’m going to give a brief summary: This story is about a bunch of guys fighting over some women fleshlights and jewelry. Mostly the women fleshlights. Everyone’s been at this war for nine years (sidebar: weirdly, when I read that it was nine years, I thought, “NINE YEARS? WHO WOULD FIGHT A WAR FOR THAT LONG? Oh, wait . . . .”). As you probably know, the war initially started because Paris, a Trojan, stole Helen, who was the iPhone 5 of fleshlights, from Menelaus, an Argive. The Argives are at their ships; the Trojans are in Ilium, behind the city walls. There’s lots of blood and guts and pillaging throughout. This story, Homer clearly tells us, is about Paris and Helen’s betrayal of Menelaus, and it is about the death of Achilles. The story opens with Agamemnon, the king of the Argives, having stolen a fancy new fleshlight from Achilles, who is a child of a water nymph. Achilles refuses to continue fighting if Agamemnon is going to take his fleshlight. Then, Achilles has this beautiful, beautiful moment where he questions the very nature of fighting over fleshlights. We are all pawns in the petty squabbles of the gods. The gods are easily my favorite parts of this story, though it is not really about them in a certain way. It is not really about them in the way that any discussion of a god is not really about the god. On the one hand, it is about how our lives are just pawns in this squabbling, incestuous, eternal Thanksgiving dinner in the sky. On the other hand, it is still about the pawns. The gods are compelling on their own, but my heart tries to escape my chest not because of their story, but because, yes, humans do live and die by some kind of petty lottery run by a rapist married to his sister. Yes. And maybe there is someone bold and wonderful in the sky, like the grey-eyed Athena, but we still live and die by the thunder of a maniacal drunk uncle. Yes, that seems true. So, in the midst of the chopping of limbs, the shatteringly beautiful similes, death after death, and the machinations of the dysfunctional immortal family, this story is about the betrayal of Menelaus and the death of Achilles. The thing that is absolutely, hands-down the most insane about this story to me is that those two events are deeply vivid in my mind in connection to this book, but neither of them actually happens here. How is that possible?! How do you plant enough seeds about an event in a reader’s mind that when she closes a book, those seeds grow into whole, robust images about the event? My blood does that thing where it tries to get out of my skin just from thinking about that. I can picture Achilles's death so vividly, picture lying in that hammock and reading it after I graduated from college, but that never happened. Homer just planted the seeds of his death in my brain, and they grew from my constant pondering over them. Helen and Paris sailing away grew in my mind through Helen’s beautiful regrets. This is a story that I could think about for days: Helen’s mourning, like the women I’ve seen apologize for causing their husbands’ abuse (no, you didn’t cause this); war, and the futility of killing each other, as though we are controlled by the Kardashians of the sky. What causes violence? We say women cause violence because they push our buttons, so we’re driven to maim and kill because of the betrayals and button pushing. We say that something eternal, God or the gods, cause violence because they control our fate, they appear to us as birds and as wisdom and lead us on our night-blind path of life, but they lead us erratically: drunk, hysterical drivers and us with no seat belt, so we grasp for mere survival. Homer describes those motivations for violence so beautifully. But, ultimately I think that is all bullshit, and I think the bullshitness of it is there in this story, too. It is there in Achilles challenging Agamemnon. It is there in Achilles mourning Patroclus. Oh, Patroclus, about whom I haven’t even freaked in this review. What a shame. Anyway, though, people are not violent because we were betrayed or because of supernatural trickery. Our violence is ours; it is our choice and our responsibility. Life is barbarous and cruel around us, but that is its nature, and we can only shape ourselves through and around it. When we expect life to be gentle and obedient, we are usually doing nothing more than justifying our own cruelty. I don’t think there is an answer to any of this in The Iliad, but it is beautifully told in both the positive and negative space. It is blood-poundingly, eye-achingly told. As my professor said, everyone should read this, and if you can read it in the sun, lying in a hammock after your graduation, all the better.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ines

    This is a must read for every italian boys and girls at school ( many years ago the ministry of education put it with Dante, and Manzoni as a fixed programm to study for all the young italians); we begin to study "Iliade" from middle then up to High school ...and then at College if you choose humanistic studies... i will never forget my teacher at "Liceo Classico" kind of "Classical studies high school" that gifted us with brilliant lessons about Dante, Boccaccio,Petrarca, Manzoni, Omero and Virg This is a must read for every italian boys and girls at school ( many years ago the ministry of education put it with Dante, and Manzoni as a fixed programm to study for all the young italians); we begin to study "Iliade" from middle then up to High school ...and then at College if you choose humanistic studies... i will never forget my teacher at "Liceo Classico" kind of "Classical studies high school" that gifted us with brilliant lessons about Dante, Boccaccio,Petrarca, Manzoni, Omero and Virgilio and so on.... and then with our teacher for latin and ancient greek, we studied tragedies and other masterpieces translating them to italian... The programm was so difficult that an american teacher's we met during an exchange programm, told us that what we were doing was used to be studied during the 3th year of College for classic studies in the US. Now at 43 years old, i can only say , how lucky i have been to met such persons, teachers that loved their studies and their jobs!! ( forgive me, despite my husband is american, and my kids are biligual, i continue to be a mess in written english!!)

  10. 5 out of 5

    Riku Sayuj

    TROY VI: THE INVENTION OF ACHILLES “The Classics, it is the Classics!” William Blake is said to have exclaimed, with pointed reference to Homer, “that Desolate Europe with Wars!” Blake's exclamation might not be as atrocious as it sounds at first. There might be some truth to this, a universal truth. Significantly however, this is not how the ancients understood it. They understood war as the catastrophe that it is. Strabo, the Roman geographer, talking about the Trojan wars, puts it thus: “For TROY VI: THE INVENTION OF ACHILLES “The Classics, it is the Classics!” William Blake is said to have exclaimed, with pointed reference to Homer, “that Desolate Europe with Wars!” Blake's exclamation might not be as atrocious as it sounds at first. There might be some truth to this, a universal truth. Significantly however, this is not how the ancients understood it. They understood war as the catastrophe that it is. Strabo, the Roman geographer, talking about the Trojan wars, puts it thus: “For it came about that, on account of the length of the campaign, the Greeks of that time, and the barbarians as well, lost both what they had at home and what they had acquired by the campaign; and so, after the destruction of Troy, not only did the victors turn to piracy because of their poverty, the still more the vanquished who survived the war.” It is in this spirit that I chose The Iliad as my first read for The World War I centenary read. However, over the war-hungry centuries throughout the middle ages and right till the World Wars, this sense of the Epic was twisted by manipulating the images of Achilles & Hector - Hector became the great defender of his country and Achilles became the insubordinate soldier/officer - the worst ‘type’, more a cause for the war than even Helen herself. Of course, Achilles’ romance was never fully stripped but Hector gained in prominence throughout as the quintessential Patriot. Precisely because of this the Blake exclamation might have been more valid than it had a right to be. This is why there is a need to revisit the original tragic purpose of the Epic - most commentators would say that (as above) this original purpose was against ALL wars. But there is much significance to the fact that the epic celebrates the doomed fight of two extinct peoples. The Iliad starts on the eve of war and ends on the eve of war. Of a ten year epic war, the poem focuses its attention only on a couple or so of crucial, and in the end inconclusive, weeks (for it does not end with any side victorious but with Hector’s death). In fact, it opens with both both Hector & Achilles reluctant and extremely ambivalent towards war. And closes with both Hector & Achilles dead - by mutually assured destruction! In that clash of the Titans, the epic defines itself and creates a lasting prophecy. However, before we explore that we need to understand Hector & Achilles better and also the Iliad itself. In Medias Res The Iliad opens in medias res, as it were, as if the epic-recitation was already on its way and we, the audience, have just joined. It is part of Homer’s genius that he creates a world already in process. The art of Iliad is then the art of the entrance, the players enter from an ongoing world which is fully alive in the myths that surround the epic and the audience. The poem describes neither the origins nor the end of the war. The epic cuts out only a small sliver of insignificant time of the great battle - and thus focuses the spotlight almost exclusively on Hector & Achilles, narrowing the scope of the poem from a larger conflict between warring peoples to a smaller one between these two individuals, and yet maintaining its cosmic aspirations. So the important question is who are Hector & Achilles and why do these two heroes demand nothing less than the greatest western epic to define and contrast them? The Long Wait For Achilles In Iliad, how single-mindedly we are made to focus on Hector, but all the while, the Epic bursts with an absence - that of Achilles! After the initial skirmish with Agamemnon and the withdrawal that forms the curtain-raiser, Achilles plays no part in the events described in Books 2 through 8; he sits by his ships on the shore, playing his harp, having his fun, waiting for the promised end. “The man,” says Aristotle in the Politics, “who is incapable of working in common, or who in his self-sufficiency has no need of others, is no part of the community, like a beast, or a god.” Hector is the most human among the heroes of The Iliad, he is the one we can relate with the most east. The scene where Hector meets Andromache and his infant son is one of the most poignant scenes of the epic and heightened by Homer for maximum dramatic tension. On the other hand, Achilles is almost non-human, close to a god. But still human, though only through an aspiration that the audience might feel - in identifying with the quest for kleos, translated broadly as “honor”. ‘Zeus-like Achilles’ is the usage sometimes employed by Homer - and this is apt in more ways than the straight-forward fact that he is indeed first among the mortals just as Zeus is first among the gods. Zeus and the Gods know the future, they know how things are going to unfold. Among the mortals fighting it out in the plains of Ilium, only Achilles shares this knowledge, and this fore-knowledge is what allows him (in the guise of rage) to stay away from battle, even at the cost of eternal honor. Fore-knowledge is what makes Achilles (who is the most impetuous man alive) wiser than everyone else. Hector on the other hand takes heed of no omens, or signs, nor consults any astrologer. For him, famously, the only sign required is that his city needed saving - “and that is omen enough for me”, as he declares. He is the rational man. He is the ordinary man. Roused to defense. But everything Hector believes is false just as everything Achilles knows is true - for all his prowess, Hector is as ordinary a soldier as anyone else (except Achilles), privy to no prophecies, blind to his own fate. Elated, drunk with triumph, Hector allows himself to entertain one impossible dream/notion after other, even to the extent that perhaps Achilles too will fall to him. That he can save Troy all by himself. Hector & Achilles: The Metamorphosis Like other ancient epic poems, the Iliad presents its subject clearly from the outset. Indeed, Homer names his focus in its opening word: menin, or “rage.” Specifically, the Iliad concerns itself with the rage of Achilles—how it begins, how it cripples the Achaean army, and how it finally becomes redirected toward the Trojans. But, it also charts the metamorphosis of Achilles from a man who abhors a war that holds no meaning for him to a man who fights for its own sake. On the other side, it also charts how the civilized Hector, the loving family man and dutiful patriot Hector becomes a savage, driven by the madness of war. Before that, an interlude. The Other Life Of Achilles One of the defining scenes of the Epic is the ‘Embassy Scene’ where a defeated Agamemnon sends Odysseus & co to entreat Achilles to return to the battle. That is when Achilles delivers his famous anti-war speech. This speech of Achilles can be seen as a repudiation of the heroic ideal itself, of kleos - a realization that the life and death dedicated to glory is a game not worth the candle. The reply is a long, passionate outburst; he pours out all the resentment stored up so long in his heart. He rejects out of hand this embassy and any other that may be sent; he wants to hear no more speeches. Not for Agamemnon nor for the Achaeans either will he fight again. He is going home, with all his men and ships. As for Agamemnon's gifts, “I loathe his gifts!“ This is a crucial point in the epic. Achilles is a killer, the personification of martial violence, but he eulogizes not war but life - “If I voyage back to the fatherland I love, my pride, my glory dies . . . true, but the life that's left me will be long . . . “  (9.502-4) Hector & Achilles: The Battle Royale Notwithstanding Achilles’ reluctance and bold affirmations of life, slowly, inevitably, Homer builds the tension and guides us towards the epic clash everybody is waiting for. But though it might seem as preordained, it is useful to question it closely. The confrontation is crucial and deserves very close scrutiny. We must ask ourselves - What brings on this confrontation? On first glance, it was fate, but if looked at again, we can see that Homer leaves plenty of room for free-will and human agency - Hector had a choice. But not Achilles - instead, Achilles' choice was exercised by Patroclus. This calls for a significant re-look at the central conflict of the epic: it might not be Hector Vs Achilles! Patroclus and Hector instead are the real centerpiece of the epic - Achilles being the irresistible force, that is once unleashed unstoppable. It is a no-contest. Hence, the real contest happens before. This is because, that unleashing depended entirely on Hector and Patroclus - the two heroes who only went into battle when their side was in dire straits - to defend. Both then got caught up in the rage of battle, and despite the best of advice from their closest advisors, got swept up by it and tried to convert defense into annihilation of enemy - pursuing kleos! It is worth noting the significant parallels between Hector and Patroclus, while between Hector and Achilles it is the contrasts that stand forth. Hector, instead of just defending his city, surges forth and decides to burn the Achaean ships. Now, the Achaean ships symbolize the future of the Greek race. They constitute the army’s only means of conveying itself home, whether in triumph or defeat. Even if the Achaean army were to lose the war, the ships could bring back survivors; the ships’ destruction, however, would mean the annihilation—or automatic exile—of every last soldier. Homer implies that the mass death of these leaders and role models would have meant the decimation of a civilization. Which means that the Achaeans cant escape - in effect, Hector, by trying to burn the ships is in effect calling for a fight to the death! This decision was taken in the face of very strong omens and very good advice: In the battle at the trench and rampart in Book Twelve, The Trojans Storm the Rampart, Polydamas sees an eagle flying with a snake, which it drops because the snake keeps attacking it; Polydamas decides this is an omen that the Trojans will lose. He tells Hector they must stop, but Hector lashes out that Zeus told him to charge; he accuses Polydamas of being a coward and warns him against trying to convince others to turn back or holding back himself. Hector is driven on by his success to overstep the bounds clearly marked out for him by Zeus. He hears Polydamas’ threefold warning (yes, there were two other instances too, not addressed here), yet plots the path to his own death and the ruin of those whom he loves. Thus, sadly, Hector pays no heed and surges forth. Which is the cue for the other patriot to enter the fray - for Patroclus. And thus Hector’s own madness (going beyond success in defense) in the face of sound advice brought on a crises for Achaeans to which their prime defender and patriot, Patroclus responded - and then paralleling Hector’s own folly, he too succeeded and then went beyond that to his own death. Thus Patroclus too shows that knows no restraint in victory; his friends too warned him in vain, and he paid for it with his life. By this time Hector had no choice, his fate was already sealed. Achilles was about to be unleashed. The most important moment in Iliad to me was this ‘prior-moment’ - when Hector lost it - when he lost himself to war fury: Hector’s first act of true savagery - towards Patroclus and his dead-body. “lost in folly, Athena had swept away their senses, “ is how Homer describes Hector and his troops at this point of their triumph. Achilles, Unchained. Yet, Homer gives Hector one more chance to spurn honor and save himself and diffuse/stall the mighty spirit of Achilles that had been unleashed on the battlegrounds. In his soliloquy before the Scacan gate, when he expects to die by Achilles' hand, he also has his first moment of insight: he sees that he has been wrong, and significantly enough Polydamas and his warnings come back to his mind. But he decides to hold his ground for fear of ridicule, of all things! So even as all the other Trojans ran inside the impregnable city walls to shelter, Hector waited outside torn between life and honor (contrast this with Achilles who had chosen life over honor, the lyre over the spear, so effortlessly earlier). Hector instead waits until unnerved, until too late. And then the inevitable death comes. Thus the Rage was unleashed by two men who tried to do more than defend themselves - they tried to win eternal honor or kleos - the result is the unleashing of the fire called Achilles (his rage) which burns itself and everything around it to the ground. What better invocation of what war means? I ask again, what better book to read for the centenary year for The World War I? The Last Book The last words of The Iliad are : “And so the Trojans buried Hector, breaker of horses.” Thus, fittingly, Homer starts with the Rage of Achilles and ends with the Death of Hector. This is very poetic and poignant, but it is time for more questions: Again, why start and end on the eve of battle? Because that is the only space for reflection that war allows. Before the madness of the fury of war or of disaster descends like a miasmic cloud. To use Homer’s own phrase, “war gives little breathing-room”. Thus, we end the Epic just as we began it - in stalemate, with one crucial difference - both sides’ best men are dead. The two men who could have effected a reconciliation , who had a vision beyond war, are dead. Homer’s Prophecies It is made very clear in The Iliad that Achilles will die under Trojan roofs and that Hector will find his doom under the shadow of the Achaean ships - or, both are to die in enemy territory. Though Iliad leaves us with full focus on Hector’s death and funeral, there is another death that was always presaged but left off from the story - That of Achilles’ own. Why? Achilles' death is left to the audience to imagine, over and over again, in every context as required. The saga of Hector & Achilles, of the doomed-to-die heroes, leaves one death to the imagination and thus effects a very neat prophetic function. Once Hector committed his folly, once Patroclus rushed to his death, and once Achilles is unleashed, the rest is fixed fate, there is no stopping it. So Homer begins and ends in truce, but with destruction round the corner - as if the cycle was meant to be repeated again and again, stretching backwards and forwards in time - Troy I, Troy II, … to Troy VI, Troy VII, … where does it end? Homer knows that the threshold is crossed, the end is nigh - even Troy’s destruction is not required to be part of the epic - with Hector’s death, the death of Ilium is nigh too and so is Achilles’ own death and past the myths, the death of the Greek civilization, and maybe of all civilization? The epic leaves us with the real doomsday just over the horizon, horribly presaged by it, in true prophetic fashion. The Pity of War The pity of war is The Iliad’s dominant theme, but it uses themes such as love, ego, honor, fear and friendship to illuminate the motive forces behind war. In another ancient epic, Gilgamesh, the death of a friend prompts a quest which ends in wisdom and an affirmation of life; in The Iliad, the death of the fabled friend leads to a renunciation of wisdom and a quest for death itself! In Gilgamesh, the hero learns the follies of life and rebuilds civilization; in The Iliad, Achilles comes into the epic already armed with this knowledge and moves towards seeking death, choosing to be the destroyer instead of the creator. The Iliad is an epic of unlearning. It mocks optimistic pretensions. In The Iliad, the participants learn nothing from their ordeal, all the learning is left to the audience.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    I’m often kept up at night brooding on my troubles, wishing I could find some solace that would help me sleep. But now I know that the best way to keep insomnia at bay is to get out of bed, hitch up my chariot, tie the corpse of my mortal enemy to the back, and drive around for a few hours, dragging him, until I cheer up and can go back to sleep. The Iliad is unmatched, in my reading, for works that describe the bloody, ridiculous, selfish lengths people will go in order to feel better. The stic I’m often kept up at night brooding on my troubles, wishing I could find some solace that would help me sleep. But now I know that the best way to keep insomnia at bay is to get out of bed, hitch up my chariot, tie the corpse of my mortal enemy to the back, and drive around for a few hours, dragging him, until I cheer up and can go back to sleep. The Iliad is unmatched, in my reading, for works that describe the bloody, ridiculous, selfish lengths people will go in order to feel better. The sticks and stones fly (and gouge out eyes, smash skulls, slash livers and veins until the blood sprays–this poem is definitely not for the squeamish), but the real weapons of the Trojan War are name-calling, cheating at games, and stealing your best buddy’s girlfriend or mixing bowl or ox. Most of the action occurs when somebody gets his feelings hurt, the baddie won’t apologize, and the sensitive one throws a fit, which can involve letting all of his friends die while he gets an olive-oil massage, or else razing a city, raping the women, and joyriding over other men’s bones. The Iliad suggests that even at its most glorious, war can be advocated only by people with the emotional lives of spoiled four-year-olds.... For more thoughts, see my post: http://alisonkinney.com/2015/07/23/ho...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    "Did you really LIKE the Iliad, mum?" My son has just finished reading it, and his question is valid. Do you really LIKE to read line after line of gory murder, repeated endlessly from song to song? I evaded the question, speaking of fantastic opening lines, of classic art and immense influence on other authors. And then I capitulated - a little: "The Odyssey is much more interesting as a story!" I said. "So you didn't like it then?" "I liked reading it!" And we agreed that some books just ARE. As a "Did you really LIKE the Iliad, mum?" My son has just finished reading it, and his question is valid. Do you really LIKE to read line after line of gory murder, repeated endlessly from song to song? I evaded the question, speaking of fantastic opening lines, of classic art and immense influence on other authors. And then I capitulated - a little: "The Odyssey is much more interesting as a story!" I said. "So you didn't like it then?" "I liked reading it!" And we agreed that some books just ARE. As a reader, you will want to tackle them at some point, and the rules you apply to more recent works of fiction don't count. You award yourself 5 stars for finishing, for knowing more than you did before starting. But then my son killed the Iliad with a spear as sharp as those of Homeric warriors. He compared it to Greek tragedy. And that is where I stumbled: those ARE too - but I also LIKE reading them. They are thought-provoking, exciting, and classic. Troy's fall from the perspective of Philoctetes is pure literary bliss. The Iliad is not. But it remains...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte May

    Read as part of my degree and as part of my love of classics, however it didn't compare to The Odyssey which I adored - possibly due to the lack of mythological creatures and rather more battles and lists of ships and names, which made it that much harder to struggle through. Still a great read as one of the original classics but I would choose The Odyssey over the Iliad anytime. Read as part of my degree and as part of my love of classics, however it didn't compare to The Odyssey which I adored - possibly due to the lack of mythological creatures and rather more battles and lists of ships and names, which made it that much harder to struggle through. Still a great read as one of the original classics but I would choose The Odyssey over the Iliad anytime.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Loretta

    This was a terribly hard read for me. I struggled to finish it, but finish it I did. 😕

  15. 4 out of 5

    Adina

    Last year I attended a conference where one of the speakers stated that literature starts with Homer. I love to read so I thought that maybe I should see what the fuss is about with the cradle of the written word. I do not like poetry but I said that maybe it is time to learn how to appreciate it. Well, it didn't go well. I appreciate its worth but It was a chore to read and I had to stop after 100 pages or so. No more epic poems for me. Last year I attended a conference where one of the speakers stated that literature starts with Homer. I love to read so I thought that maybe I should see what the fuss is about with the cradle of the written word. I do not like poetry but I said that maybe it is time to learn how to appreciate it. Well, it didn't go well. I appreciate its worth but It was a chore to read and I had to stop after 100 pages or so. No more epic poems for me.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    After reading The Illiad I faced a quandary- how do you review one of the most important and enduring works of creativity in human history? What can you say that hundreds of thousands of others haven't? My answer to this question is that I must join the chorus of those who have come before me and sing the praises of what is one of the best stories I have ever read, as fascinating and gripping now as it no doubt was when it was penned nearly three millennia ago. There are many reasons why this book After reading The Illiad I faced a quandary- how do you review one of the most important and enduring works of creativity in human history? What can you say that hundreds of thousands of others haven't? My answer to this question is that I must join the chorus of those who have come before me and sing the praises of what is one of the best stories I have ever read, as fascinating and gripping now as it no doubt was when it was penned nearly three millennia ago. There are many reasons why this book has endured. It is a story of love, hate, vengeance, fate, pettiness, grief and war, bloody and prolonged war - a microcosm of human life and the furies that drive us to excess. You know the story. Paris steals Helen away to Troy. Agamemnon and the Greeks raise and army and lay seige to that great city. Achilles, the greatest warrior history has ever seen, fights and dies, a poison arrow embedded in his ankle. The Greeks roll a massive wooden horse up to Troy's gates, and the war ends in trickery and massacre. You know all this, but trust me, you don't know it the way The Illiad tells it. This is a glorious read, the brutal blows and shrieks of war leap from the page, and the human passions that drive the protaganists are vivid and compelling. You will read this book and wonder at how something from another time, translated from it's original tongue, can so totally enthrall a modern reader. It's powerful, heady stuff. So many images from this story are carved into my synapses. Hector and Achilles stalking the battlefield like avatars of death, scything down opponents in their tens. Priam begging Achilles for the return of his son's mangled body. Heroes cut down mid-fight, their souls headed for the underworld, their deaths mourned even by the gods on Olympus, who watch and guide the battle from above. There are a handful of books that every reader must experience - books that are milestones in human culture. The Illiad is one of these books. I don't know how I lived more than three decades before I read it, and it makes me nostalgic for a time I never lived through, when a high school education in the classics was something that everyone received.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Piyangie

    The Iliad is an ancient Greek epic poem by Homer, which presents his interpretation of the events that took place during a few weeks of the tenth and final year of the Trojan War. Homer's tale of the Trojan War runs from the time of Achilles's falling out with the Greek King, Lord Agamemnon, and shunning from the war to the time when he re-enters it and kills the Trojan hero, Hector, to avenge the death of his friend and companion, Patroclus. After my reading of The Odyssey, I felt I need to re The Iliad is an ancient Greek epic poem by Homer, which presents his interpretation of the events that took place during a few weeks of the tenth and final year of the Trojan War. Homer's tale of the Trojan War runs from the time of Achilles's falling out with the Greek King, Lord Agamemnon, and shunning from the war to the time when he re-enters it and kills the Trojan hero, Hector, to avenge the death of his friend and companion, Patroclus. After my reading of The Odyssey, I felt I need to revisit The Iliad. The thought that I might not have fully appreciated it kept on nagging me. I first read a prose version, but this time I resorted to the poetic translation done by Alexander Pope. And I have to confess that the result was surprising. Not only I understood it well, but I also came to fully appreciate the extent of Homer's artistry. In this new light, I'm obliged to amend my former review to express my truest thoughts on this amazing classic. In my first read, I've misunderstood the role of Gods. I thought that they dictated and interfered unjustly in the men's war and hindered their valor. But after my reread, I now understand it was fate that governed it all, and that the Gods' role was to facilitate the course of fate. Of course, the Gods supported their chosen camp, some siding with the Greeks, who they believed to have been injured by the treachery of Paris of Troy, and others siding with the Trojans, for their faithful reverence of mighty Olympian Gods. But not any of them, not even the all-powerful Zeus could alter what the fate decreed on the mortal men. When I understood fully the role of God, men, and fate, I was able to view the whole thing through new eyes and appreciate and enjoy the tale for its true worth. The Iliad is a tragedy. The main themes of this tragic tale are honour, loyalty, glory, and revenge. It was not the pleasantest read. Too much importance is given to the descriptions of gruesome details of war. The dramatic quality with which Homer has knitted his poem made so vivid a portrayal of battle scenes and horrific deaths that I found many passages hard to stomach. At the same time, I couldn't help admiring the ability of Homer to draw such realistic pictures through his finesse writing. And even more, I could sense the fury of men of both camps as they lunged at each other with their weapons drawn; I could hear their war cries. I could also hear the sound of the wheels of the chariots taking the warriors to the battle, the clanging of the weapons, and the groans and moans of the dead. It was truly more than a reading experience. The narrator of the tale, while taking us through the present events, also fills in the gaps of the past and makes predictions for the future. This method of recounting the story gives a complete picture of the tale, although in the strictest sense the poem only describes a few weeks of the final year of the Trojan War. The writing is quite descriptive. Whether it is a battle scene, weapons, the general setting, or characters (both men and God), nothing has escaped Homer's minutest scrutiny. Even the pedigree of each of the characters is described! Although these details are quite overwhelming at times, they nevertheless are helpful to understand the story better. It is amazing that how this epic poem, which is said to have written in the 7th or 8th centuries BC (or BCE), has fascinated and keep on fascinating generations of readers. That in itself is proof of the true mastery of its author. When all things are considered, it is a little wonder that Homer is regarded as the pioneer of the Western Classic. A word must be said about the translation. Personally, I think it is one of the best. As the translator himself has said, the essence of a translation is to capture the true spirit of the work which he translates without being too much burdened with the strict accuracy of the meaning. When compared the first translation I've read and my respective response with my present perception, I quite see the wisdom of Pope. It is the spirit that matters.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Madeline

    I don't know why I read this. It isn't on The List (I guess because it's technically a poem, not a novel), and it wasn't assigned reading or anything. But for whatever reason, reading The Iliad has been on my mental to-do list for a while now, and last week I finally picked it up. My first reaction: dude, this epic is epic. (thank you, I'll be here all week) It's full of dudes getting killed in really exquisite detail, dudes talking about killing or not killing dudes, dudes mourning dead dudes i I don't know why I read this. It isn't on The List (I guess because it's technically a poem, not a novel), and it wasn't assigned reading or anything. But for whatever reason, reading The Iliad has been on my mental to-do list for a while now, and last week I finally picked it up. My first reaction: dude, this epic is epic. (thank you, I'll be here all week) It's full of dudes getting killed in really exquisite detail, dudes talking about killing or not killing dudes, dudes mourning dead dudes in a totally-not-homoerotic way, and dudes yelling at each other about the chicks who ruin everything. The battle sequences are long and action-packed, everybody is Zeus's kid or nephew, the men are men and the women are decoration. It's pretty awesome, is what I'm saying. Second big reaction: I was surprised at how small the scope of this poem actually is. At the beginning, the Trojan War has already been going on for ten years, and the poem really only covers the last month or so. It's really interesting, because the poem seems to be about how the stupid actions of a few powerful people can have far-reaching and horrible consequences. The whole driving force in The Iliad is this: Menelaus takes Achilles's favorite chick Briseis (who, thanks to Movies in Fifteen Minutes, will always be known as Temple Babe in my head) for his own, and Achilles throws a massive snit fit and refuses to fight in the Trojan War until the king stops raping Achilles's girlfriend and lets Achilles go back to raping her instead. Because of this, loads and loads of people die, and the gods are no help whatsoever because they're all on different sides and keep messing things up. That's the whole story: a bunch of guys who are fighting a war because of some guy stealing somebody's girlfriend all die horrible deaths because some other guys are having a fight over somebody's girlfriend. The lesson, of course, is that women ruin everything. Normally this would be cause for me to get out my Feminist Rage Hat, except for the fact that the goddesses in this story kick so much ass I can't even get that angry about how lame Helen and Briseis are. (even Andromache isn't too bad, because she gets some really lovely scenes with Hector) All in all, a pretty awesome, fast-paced action story with enough gore and bromance to keep everybody happy. I'm glad I took the time to read it. (also if anyone's curious, I read the Richard Lattimore translation and found it very readable and well-done)

  19. 4 out of 5

    James

    Book Review 3+ out of 5 stars to The Iliad, a Greek lyrical work written around 800 BC by Homer. Ah The Trojan War. We all know of the horse, but how did it come together? Who was at war? And why? You'll need to read The Iliad & The Odyssey to figure all that out... of the two, I preferred the Odyssey. I still found the story fascinating and enjoyed the read. But it's a lot to digest. It's amazing when you realize these works are almost 3000 years old. Such beauty in his words. And to Book Review 3+ out of 5 stars to The Iliad, a Greek lyrical work written around 800 BC by Homer. Ah The Trojan War. We all know of the horse, but how did it come together? Who was at war? And why? You'll need to read The Iliad & The Odyssey to figure all that out... of the two, I preferred the Odyssey. I still found the story fascinating and enjoyed the read. But it's a lot to digest. It's amazing when you realize these works are almost 3000 years old. Such beauty in his words. And to think about everything we've learned over the years... about war... and the Trojan horse... both the virus and the trickery. There are some valuable lessons in this work. If only more would give it a chance! About Me For those new to me or my reviews... here's the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you'll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I've visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Settare (on hiatus)

    I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading The Iliad. Many parts of it are bizarre and horrifying to the modern reader, but it can certainly be enjoyed within its context. A study guide that offers historical, cultural, and literary context to the ancient epic can significantly enhance the reading experience. I listened to Elizabeth Vandiver's Iliad of Homer Lecture Series while reading the book and I am so happy that I took the time to do so. I simply would not have enjoyed The Iliad if it we I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading The Iliad. Many parts of it are bizarre and horrifying to the modern reader, but it can certainly be enjoyed within its context. A study guide that offers historical, cultural, and literary context to the ancient epic can significantly enhance the reading experience. I listened to Elizabeth Vandiver's Iliad of Homer Lecture Series while reading the book and I am so happy that I took the time to do so. I simply would not have enjoyed The Iliad if it weren't for the insight and information she offers about the historical, cultural, and literary nuances of the book. Plot Summary for the Modern Reader: On the surface, the story is pointless and simple: Achilles gets too angry and it doesn't do anyone any good. Everyone, Trojans and Greeks alike suffer the consequences of this grotesque manchild's unreasonable anger, including himself. Lots of men die in gory bloodshed. Throw a fair amount of plotting and scheming by a bunch of ridiculous gods and a lot of misogyny in the mix and there you have it. To sum up the whole book in one phrase: toxic masculinity in full force. Themes, Differences and Similarities with our world: But. The thing is that this story, wild and distant as it sounds to our times, has striking similarities to the modern world. War, bloodlust, and misogyny have been inseparable from humankind for all of history. This book has survived millennia because it continues to resonate with generations of humans. And it's not all bad, there are lots of amazing things about this book: beautiful poetry, gorgeous language and similes, a lot of relatable humanity throughout, touching moments, vivid characters who are relatable and nuanced, brilliant narrative that's exciting and full of suspense, and all the fun of Greek mythology. Misogyny and the Situation of Women Entering this world, I had to come to terms with the fact that Homeric society functions very differently from what I would consider agreeable. The most disturbing difference is that no one, ever, questions the validity of slavery and the inferiority of women. Women are treated as prizes won by warriors, quite literally: “As for the loser, in their midst Akhilleus placed a woman versatile at crafts, whose value was four oxen.” And they are not only prized for their handicraft skills, but they are sex slaves, plain and simple. The whole book starts because Achilles is angry that Agamemnon took Briseis (a woman, Achilles' sex slave) for his own and dishonored him in doing so. Not to mention that the war itself started just because Paris abducted Helen (or they ran off together, depending on whom you ask), and Helen is usually blamed for all of it. She even calls herself "whore that I am", more than once, while accusing herself of having started the war. (Which is ridiculous, stop calling yourself a slut, Helen!) This amount of sexism is infuriating, and it's precisely why I'm not rating the book 5. but I have come to terms with the fact that world literature (and world history, for that matter) has been sexist since the beginning of time until fairly recently. If I wanted to denounce every book that mistreats women, I'd have to denounce almost the entirety of literature from all cultures. I've decided that in order to approach ancient texts, I'll accept them as they are, read them within their context and I won't let myself get enraged over every single act of misogyny. Gore and Violence: The descriptions of the book are extremely brutal. The battles are described in gory, vivid, almost cinematic detail as warriors slaughter each other by chopping each others' heads off or stabbing the weirdest body parts imaginable (with "beside the nipple of the right breast" being a repeated favorite). I confess that it is not, in any way, enjoyable to read hundreds of verses on such disgustingly gory imagery. There are long descriptions of armor and warriors putting on armor as well, which aren't that interesting, and they're almost always the same. I did not enjoy reading those parts in the slightest. Not at all. The Gods (Or Comic Relief): Then there are the gods. The Greek gods are so grotesque that they're almost comic. The reason why I like Greek mythology to begin with is that I can laugh at these gods and their childish actions the whole time. They can be terrifying, but even that's somehow comic. They call each other names, they bicker, they scheme, they're vain, but they're fun to read about. Glory, Honor, Death The other cultural-historical difference that I perceive as a striking similarity is the concept of Kleos. Kleos [κλέος] can roughly be translated as "Glory", the glory that Greek warriors fight for, but that's not all of it. As Vandiver explains in her lectures, Kleos is also "reputation", as in "what is said about you, by other people, especially after you die". She stresses that in the pre-literate society that Homer depicts, this concept of Kleos is the only form of immortality available to warriors (and men in general). In a society where there can be no written record of who you were and what you did, the only chance you have at being remembered and live on in the collective memories of the society is to win glory, Kleos. If you die with Kleos, people will talk about you with honor and respect, thus immortalizing you through tales and epic stories they will tell about you long after you're dead. That is strikingly similar to the way we live today. Maybe our way of gaining a good and lasting reputation is not by raiding cities, war and manslaughter anymore, but the concept hasn't changed much: We die, we are inevitably bound to die, so we desperately try to do good, do something to live on in the collective memory of future generations after we've died. (Some people can claim they don't live like that, but that's a fairly modern idea and you get my point). The warriors themselves don't even want to fight. They don't enjoy it, and they wish they could have just gone back and lived their lives in peace. Both sides feel that way. This unwillingness and futility is stressed many times throughout the book. Agamemnon, leader of the Greeks, no fewer than three times says "we should pack up and go back to Greece, this is pointless". Most major characters at some point contemplate giving up the fight because it's just ridiculous to fight over nothing. The example that all introductions and teachers give is this one, where Sarpedon and Glaucus, two Trojan warriors are talking: “Ah, cousin, could we but survive this war to live forever deathless, without age, I would not ever go again to battle, nor would I send you there for honor’s sake. But now a thousand shapes of death surround us, and no man can escape them, or be safe. Let us attack—whether to give some fellow glory or to win it from him.” Their attitude is mostly along the lines of "I wish we could live forever, but now that we can't, let's just do this and at least die with honor and glory". Which is very sad. If you think about this statement for a moment, you'll realize how desperate, how unfortunate, how pitiable this situation is that these warriors are stuck in. They don't want to fight, but they can't bring themselves not do. Both sides are human. The war is pointless. That's a very realistic depiction of war, and it's a sad reality. You can't help but feel sad for all of them. I didn't like all of the characters, but I could sympathize with them and pity them in their futile attempt to immortalize their memory. This concept of mortality, the inevitability of death, the desperate urge to make a name for oneself during their short life is the main theme of The Iliad and what it has in common with human life through the centuries. This concept, this meditation on the mortality of humans is (alongside the favorite marketing tools of violent fights and sex) what, I think, has kept The Iliad alive through the centuries. It's fascinating. Hating and Liking the Characters: On a less stuffy note, I want to add that a lot of characters in The Iliad are likable, even though almost all of them are misogynist vicious warriors. Patroclus is gentle and kind-hearted and he weeps for the dead the warriors and the ugliness of war. The Ajaxes (there's two of them for some reason) are brave and they never give up, they rush to help their fellow warriors. Odysseus, Aeneas, Priam, even Diomedes all have some deeply human moments. Homer doesn't villainize and alienate the Trojans at all, either. They're supposed to be the enemy, but the Trojans are very human, most of them are more sensible and gentler than the Greeks. I really like the fact that they're not treated as "the savage, filthy, less-than-human enemy" at all. To me, they seemed like the actual "good people" in the whole story, especially since they're fighting to defend their city not to attack the Greeks. The hero of the Trojans (and in my opinion, the hero of the whole book), crown prince Hector, is by far the most human, most relatable, most responsible, and best character among all warriors. He sounds like any normal modern man that's been forced to go to war and does so merely out of responsibility, not bloodlust. He rushes to battle even though he most certainly would rather stay home with his wife Andromache and their infant son. On the other side, Achilles, the man who's supposed to be the hero of all heroes, is despicable. I mean that's just the way I read the story, but Achilles is horrible, insufferable, disgusting. He's impulsive, irresponsible, he has serious anger management problems (!) and he can't react to events proportionately. Even though he has some profoundly human issues, I can't forgive him for what he did to Hector. As a person who takes fictional characters rather seriously, I just had to mention this. I hate Achilles. :D Ranting aside, I want to mention a few things about translations as well. A Note on Translations: I act a bit obsessively about translations. I am never content with the one I'm reading, I always have the uneasy feeling of "what if there's a better translation out there", so I just have to check every translation I can get my hands on to see which one I like best. For reading The Iliad, I raided the library and all sources available to collect as many translations as I could and read them alongside each other for comparison. I must give a disclaimer that I am not a translator, not a classicist, and I do not know Greek. This is by no means an expert's opinion, but merely my personal impressions based on reading and consulting four English translations alongside each other. ● The Robert Fitzgerald Translation is my favorite by far. It's beautiful, but the language isn't too outdated. It has tried to keep the poetic (segmented lines) format. It's very readable and I liked it much more than other translations. It also has a foreword which is informative and I enjoyed reading it. The excerpts I quoted in this review are from this translation. ● The Richmond Lattimore Translation is the most literary and with the richest vocabulary among all of these. The language is beautiful and more heavy-handed than the rest, it attempts to keep the poetic structure as much as possible, and it's simply beautiful. But for me, it took a bit longer to read from it because of the rather dated language. I would normally read from the Fitzgerald, mark the beautiful similes and passages and check them in the Lattimore translation afterward. The foreword, again, is very good. ● The E. V. Rieu Translation: This one is in prose (The line numbers are marked). It's readable, it's easy, and it's the most humorous one by far. I don't know if Rieu intended to make it comical, but he's phrased the bizarre dialogues in a way that came across as funny to me. Whenever I arrived at a phrase that I found hilarious (when the gods were calling each other names, for example) I'd look at the Rieu translation and I wouldn't be disappointed (Hera calling Zeus an arch-deceiver and Hector calling Paris Paris, you parody were two of my favorites). It also has a short plot summary (with line numbers) before each book (chapter) starts which is very useful. The introduction is really good, too. If you want to read a prose version, this is the one for you. ●The Robert Fagles Translation is the one I didn't particularly like. It has a very good and informative foreword. It's fairly readable and has attempted to keep the poetic format. I don't have anything against it, but it just doesn't stand out compared to Fitzgerald or Lattimore. I read the first two books from it and then I gave it up, occasionally consulting it on interesting sections. You can choose whichever translation you like. If you're more comfortable with prose, go with Rieu. If you like the "poetic" format, I'd say try Fitzgerald. It is worth mentioning that none of the "poetic" translations are actual poems in English. Translation inevitably sacrifices the true poetic quality of the original. None of these translations have a noticeable rhyme and rhythm, let alone a standard meter. But that's just something we have to accept whenever reading something in translation. Whichever edition you choose is fine, they're all by experienced scholars. But please read the introduction because they are all very well-written, informative, and insightful. Alright. I've been rambling long enough. I just want to conclude by saying that The Iliad is well worth reading. It's interesting and exciting and bizarre and stupid and beautiful all at the same time, and I definitely enjoyed it and learned a lot from it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    The story of the siege of Troy is one of heroism and tragedy. There are so many unforgettable characters here - both gods and heroes - that it is like watching an old black and white movie with those incredible crowds like in Ben Hur. You can see the vast encampment of Greeks around Troy, you can smell the cooking fires and hear the laughter in the camp - the jeers at the wall and the frustration on both sides as the siege goes on and on. The epic battles near the end the claim the lives of some The story of the siege of Troy is one of heroism and tragedy. There are so many unforgettable characters here - both gods and heroes - that it is like watching an old black and white movie with those incredible crowds like in Ben Hur. You can see the vast encampment of Greeks around Troy, you can smell the cooking fires and hear the laughter in the camp - the jeers at the wall and the frustration on both sides as the siege goes on and on. The epic battles near the end the claim the lives of some of mythologies greatest heroes - Achilles and Hector - are beyond description. The Rouse translation is a bit dry but still does a great job of bringing this classic tale to life. I would love to hear from commenters on alternate translations, but this one which is a bit of a classic is the only one I have tried.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    Foolish me. I thought I was going to look at the different editions of The Iliad and choose the one most readable but did not reckon with the overwhelming beauty of the language and story. The truth is, it does not matter which edition you choose, so long as you read at least one. It is inevitable that you will find yourself drawn to the question of the most beautiful and complete rendition but you may (wisely) concede defeat at the beauty of each. The Homeric epics are said to be the greatest s Foolish me. I thought I was going to look at the different editions of The Iliad and choose the one most readable but did not reckon with the overwhelming beauty of the language and story. The truth is, it does not matter which edition you choose, so long as you read at least one. It is inevitable that you will find yourself drawn to the question of the most beautiful and complete rendition but you may (wisely) concede defeat at the beauty of each. The Homeric epics are said to be the greatest stories, martial stories, ever sung or written of all time, so if for some reason they did not resonate for you in high school, you may want to revisit what your teachers were talking about. When they describe the death of a man in the full bloom of his strength looking like an flower in a rainstorm, head and neck aslant, unable to withstand the beating rain, we understand. I listened to the audio of Stephen Mitchell’s streamlined translation, and it was utterly ravishing and compelling. The Iliad is one episode among many in Homer’s epics, and it may have been assumed that listeners of the original spoken performance would be familiar with all the players in this war. It is argued by some, including British scholar M.L. West, that The Iliad has had pieces added to it over the years. Stephen Mitchell follows West’s scholarship and strips out the extra passages, a notion expanded upon in a review of Mitchell’s translation by classicist Daniel Mendelsohn in The New Yorker (2011). Mitchell’s translation may be the most readable, the most listenable one in English. It is also the shortest. Mitchell also shortens the lines in English so that they have speed and momentum for an impressive delivery. The recent (2017) Peter Green translation, begun when Green was nearly 90 years old, is similarly easy to read; Green tells us that he began in a relaxed attitude for diversion and completed the whole within a year. Colin Burrow reviewed Green's translation in the June 18th 2015 edition of the London Review of Books. Neither the writing or the reading of this version is anguished or tortured, and Burrow points out that Green was a historian but didn't allow that to obfuscate or weigh down the poetry. The Green & Mitchell versions both retain a long recitation of those who prepared their ships to sail with Agamemnōn to Troy to bring back Helen, the wife of Menelaös. One imagines ancient listeners shouting when their region is named, much along the lines of the cheering section of a field game, when each player’s name is called. And later, as the blow-by-blow of the battle proceeded, one imagines each region cheering when mention of their leader is declaimed, though some died horrible deaths. This is another reason to read this ancient work: We live and die not unlike one another, we who lived so far apart in time, and perhaps the ardor young men of today have for the sword and for fame will be doused by the utterly desolate manner of death recounted here, one in particular that I cannot forget: a spear through the buttock and into the bladder meant a painful and ugly death. However, it is true that Achilles chose fame over life, knowing that his exploits in Troy would mean his physical death but his fame amongst men would be sung for “thousands of years.” One wonders how the ballad was delivered—in pieces or over a period of days—perhaps in sections by different singers? Caroline Alexander, after a lifetime of her own research into the Homeric epics argues in The War That Killed Achilles: The True Story of Homer's Iliad and the Trojan War that the work certainly required days to recite, and may have been performed in episodes. The length of the piece suggests the piece was once short enough to be memorized, leaving room for invention and modification as befits the oral tradition. I wonder now which European language has the most translations, and do they sometimes dare to attempt translations from ancient Greek to, say, French, and then to English? It seems we have enough scholars understanding ancient Greek to give us satisfactory versions without resorting to piggybacked translations. An attempt was made by John Farrell in the Oct 30, 2012 edition of the Los Angeles Review of Books to untangle the English translations and sort them for clarity and poetry. Those of us who love this work will read them all, especially the fascinating introductions to each in which the scholars themselves wax eloquent about what they loved about it. Mitchell's introduction is especially accessible and impelling: I could hardly wait to get to the story. I have read reviews of people who prefer Lattimore, Fagles, Fitzgerald, or Lombardo translations and all I can say is I’m not the one to quibble about great works. Daniel Mendelsohn "graded" four translations in the article discussing Mitchell's translation. It must be a curse and a blessing both (for one's self and one’s family both) to understand ancient Greek and to feel the desire to translate Homer. All the questions any editor/translator must address, e.g., spelling, which edition is ‘original,’ more poetry or prose, whether to render the translation literally or by sense…how exhausting the decisions, but how exciting, too. In the end, whichever edition gives you the greatest access for your first attempt to breach the ramparts of this ancient work is the one to choose for a first read. The other editions will naturally come later, once you have the sense of the story, a few names nailed down, and have that deepening curiosity about the poetry and the beauty. One last observation is that the men in this epic were mere playthings of the gods, gods that could be cruel, petty, jealous, and vengeful. These gods were helpful to individual men or women insofar as it helped their cause vis à vis other gods. There was striving among men, but most of the time human successes or failures had less to do with who they were than with who they knew. Was it ever thus.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    I have now read The Iliad for the first time since my college days. I almost wonder if I actually read the whole book back then. It seems so different now, so much more all-encompassing, universal and timeless in dealing with men at war, issues of honor, duties of leadership, fate, individuals and community. Certainly the gods seem more petty and childlike than I remembered. On this reading it is both more brutal and more beautiful than I expected; in that way I would guess it mirrors life. It a I have now read The Iliad for the first time since my college days. I almost wonder if I actually read the whole book back then. It seems so different now, so much more all-encompassing, universal and timeless in dealing with men at war, issues of honor, duties of leadership, fate, individuals and community. Certainly the gods seem more petty and childlike than I remembered. On this reading it is both more brutal and more beautiful than I expected; in that way I would guess it mirrors life. It also does seem relevant to the contemporary world these thousands of years later with the themes of honor, fate, love/hate, loyalty and fealty, leadership-good and poor, what is a true leader. I was also struck by the human-seeming nature of the gods. They had more power and immortality, but they were petty and, at times mean and spiteful. There also played games with human lives and destinies. Though they perhaps brought a vague order to human's lives, there was no nobility to their existence. I likely will read The Iliad again before long (I already have a kindle copy of Catherine Alexander's translation for comparison). I enjoyed Fagles' translation very much and found his descriptive writing often beautiful, his war and battle scenes brutally clear. All in all, I'm very glad I have finally returned to Homer's world. ..................................................................................................... My original rating was 2* from my recall of reading a different translation while in college (?Lattimore) many years ago. I very much enjoyed Fagles' Odyssey and look forward to trying a new version of The Iliad as a more "mature" adult.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This is a story of battles. It begins with a battle of principles between Achilles and Agamemnon, and as stubborn as they both are, I could sympathize with both views. I enjoyed that. I appreciated the depiction of the gods and goddesses. They were a dysfunctional family, deeply flawed, and yet human lives were subject to their whims. And although the gods could choose to ignore a prophecy, they’d usually adhere to one with respect. It made for an integrated unfolding of free will and fate. I coul This is a story of battles. It begins with a battle of principles between Achilles and Agamemnon, and as stubborn as they both are, I could sympathize with both views. I enjoyed that. I appreciated the depiction of the gods and goddesses. They were a dysfunctional family, deeply flawed, and yet human lives were subject to their whims. And although the gods could choose to ignore a prophecy, they’d usually adhere to one with respect. It made for an integrated unfolding of free will and fate. I could also see clearly how classic story structure was built in this poem, each action causing a reaction that created an inevitable outcome or conclusion. I appreciated how neither the Trojans nor the Greeks were depicted as evil or wrong (each had their reasons), and in the end I grieved their losses equally. But so much of the text read like a list and felt very much like The Bible’s section “begat begat begat.” For example, Homer names every man from each ship on both sides of the battle. And most pages describe battle after battle, death after death, without giving the reader enough of character to care. The description of the woundings felt like they were written with the glee and remove of children in a school yard - lots of heads popping off bodies, and eyes popping from heads, which made them kind of fun. I imagine those who listened to these stories back then had prior knowledge of the personalities, and so were invested in their origins and fates. I probably should have done more research. In the end, the story felt too impersonal to me, unlike The Odyssey, which I enjoyed. I also highly recommend Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles, which tells the story of The Iliad within the larger context of the tender and complex relationship between Patroclus and Achilles.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Trevor

    I read the Odyssey at Uni and really loved it. A romp off to parts unknown with a man who is good company from a distance. As with much of fiction, the people I am delighted to spend lots of time with on the page are not necessarily those I would want to spend anytime with otherwise. I’ve always meant to get around to reading this. I mean, this Homer guy only wrote two books and I had enjoyed the other one, so … so, a mere twenty years later (how time flies) I got around to reading this one. The p I read the Odyssey at Uni and really loved it. A romp off to parts unknown with a man who is good company from a distance. As with much of fiction, the people I am delighted to spend lots of time with on the page are not necessarily those I would want to spend anytime with otherwise. I’ve always meant to get around to reading this. I mean, this Homer guy only wrote two books and I had enjoyed the other one, so … so, a mere twenty years later (how time flies) I got around to reading this one. The problem was that I knew exactly what this one was about. You know, this is about Helen getting taken to Troy after Paris wins her after he judges which of the goddesses is the most beautiful which pisses off the Greeks and then there’s the siege and sacking of Troy after that rather clever trick with the wooden horse. Not much point reading this one if you already know the whole damn story. Now, you might be thinking – this guy should have put a spoiler alert at the start of this. You might also be thinking – this guy probably thinks it’s okay not to put a spoiler alert on this because everyone already knows this story. Umm, I haven’t put a spoiler alert on this because I haven’t told you anything that is actually in this story yet. Look, I know, I’m as surprised as you are. “Bugger me with a brick”, as a friend of mine would say. The idea Homer could be allowed to get away with writing a book about something everyone knows it is about and not actually writing about any of these things is, to say the least, rather frustrating. I’m sure that in some countries there is probably even a law against this sort of thing. It might just be me, but I would have thought that if you are going to write the FIRST epic in the Western Literary Tradition it does seem somewhat presumptuous to assume people know the back story. I know I can be naïve at times, but if first is to mean anything, surely it doesn’t really allow the writer to assume everyone already knows the back story. Instead, this book starts a mere 9 years after the war had began. There is precious little by way of explaining how we got here. And it ends the day before the final battle for Troy and before anyone seems to have come up with the idea of a wooden horse with a hollow middle. Spoilers start more or less now – if you are worried. A lot of this is boys’ own adventure stuff. Also a bit like the Godfather films in which they seem to have decided not to kill any two major characters in exactly the same way. Bronze swords knocking out teeth before plunging through skull with attendant buckets of blood and spraying brain matter plays, be well assured, a large part in this book. If I have any criticism at all it is that the war bits were over-long and after a while became all a bit same/same. In fact, by close to the end I was thinking I had had more than enough and was looking forward to the whole thing being over. And then that totally unexpected end! Jesus, what a way to finish a book. I was blown away. Achilles does not really come out of this book looking too good. I know he is meant to be a bit of a hero (the only things I knew about him before this being he had been dipped in a river as a child to protect him from harm and held by the ankles, so therefore these were his only venerable parts – and of course, none of this is actually mentioned here, though I suspect you are meant to already know). The whole book revolves around Achilles being annoyed at having his girlfriend taken from him and him spending most of the time in a petulant rage about to go home, stuck in one of his ships while all hell is breaking lose around him. Hector certainly seems the ‘better man’ in all this – even though he is a Trojan. This was something else I hadn’t expected. The thing I really like about the Greek Gods – and the reason Plato said that the poets shouldn’t be allowed to write stories about them – is that they are just this huge dysfunctional family. Nothing they like better than getting involved in human affairs and causing infinitely more trouble than they are worth. I also like that even when they know the outcome of something – Troy will fall, for example – that doesn’t stop them remaining loyal and supporting their favourite side all the same. It is as if the West Moorabbin Under Twelves are being put up against Manchester United all stars team and the dads of the under twelves are turning up to support their kids. Everyone knows the outcome, but all the same… “Go Johnny!” A lot of this is of more than just passing interest in the sense that it gives a fascinating (and tragically realistic) account of the horrors of warfare in the ancient world – and these horrors are many and graphic. Both sides foresee what is to happen to the women of Troy once the battle is over, for example, and this is none-too-pretty. All the same, after book after book of this I was well over these endless descriptions. But then book 24. Hector has been killed. Achilles killed him to revenge the death of his friend Patroclus, who Hector had killed and tried to quarter and feed to the dogs. Achilles is overpowered by grief for his friend and as a mark of respect slaughters 12 boys of Troy as an offering at the funeral of Patroclus (hard to express my disgust at this – not the act of a ‘hero’). He also spends days dragging Hector’s body about (ironically enough, attached to his chariot by the ankles) around the funeral site of his friend in some sort of bizarre ritual that is neither improved in report nor in deed, I think the line ran). I had never really thought about the significance of bodies after they have died in war – but psychologically, knowing (or worse, as in this case, not knowing, but assuming) what the enemy are doing to the dead body of your child, is, without question, unspeakably horrible. To regain his son’s body and to give it a proper funeral, Priam goes to Achilles and is helped there by the gods. He kisses the hand of his son’s murderer and begs for his body so as to be able to give him a proper funeral. Like I said, a remarkably moving end to the poem. I used to think that a good definition of a classic would be ‘a book that is rarely about what you think it is about before you read it’. As always, I was much too timid in my definition. It seems that a classic is NEVER about what you think it will be about before you read it. If they are particularly good classics, they are also not about what you think they were about while you were reading them either. This is an excellent case in point.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ritwik

    They lived in a house where a narrow enfilade made up for a pitch to make up for an amateurish game of cricket with one opening to the hall room and the other two to a bedroom and kitchen facing opposite to each other. As any elder sibling is wont to do, he sneaked into the younger sibling’s bedroom and passed taunts in an attempt to slake his vengeance for the previous match lost. The challenge of a re-game to settle the dust on who is the better player would finally lead to a recollection of They lived in a house where a narrow enfilade made up for a pitch to make up for an amateurish game of cricket with one opening to the hall room and the other two to a bedroom and kitchen facing opposite to each other. As any elder sibling is wont to do, he sneaked into the younger sibling’s bedroom and passed taunts in an attempt to slake his vengeance for the previous match lost. The challenge of a re-game to settle the dust on who is the better player would finally lead to a recollection of past games which were remembered distinctly by the two challengers in a way that favored them. The younger brother readily accepted the challenge of a replay of the previous final to settle the mad confusion of pride. In a series of events rife with verbal intimidation and disagreements they reached up to the last ball of the final over where the younger brother had to take up a run to win the game. The bowler weighed his options and decided to propel the final ball to the weak-spot of the batsman, a well-known weakness although taking the risk of the batsman correctly anticipating it. The ball was bowled out of the reach of the batsman with its first bounce onto the floor which would in its further movement move inwards leaving the batsman with no option other than to send the ball into the hallway and in order to completely execute the shot the batsman had to shift to his weaker leg leaving him in an awkward position which made it a difficult shot to play. As feared by the bowler, the ball was anticipated correctly and was successfully sent into the hallway and the batsmen hurtled towards the opposite end to get the single run and win the game. Little did he realize the ball dragged across the complete diagonal of the hall and reached for the showcase containing the statue of the famed discus thrower. The statue was bought from Italy by a young man with the same smile the boy had when he reached the crease and made the winning run. The toppling sound of the statue wiped the familiar grin of the little boy’s face. He launched a frenzied run towards the showcase. He dropped to his knees and held the tiny piece of the disc thrower’s ankle which was separated from the statue owing to the ball’s force. Contrary to reacting like a child and blaming his ill-fate, he marveled at the lithe body frame of the man holding the disc, the smooth curves of the statue and why it held a special place in his father’s heart. It wasn’t just the materialistic build of its physical form. It existed among all the other antiques in the shelf but it held a special place in his father’s remembrance of his younger days indulging in Greek mythological sculptures and paintings. It had held him in a peculiar state of rapture every time he glanced at the statue. That is the exact point of commencement of a passion the younger brother still pursues to this date. His love for statues depicting stories of an expansive mythology where men talked to the Gods, where empires fell, where heroes retaliated against a higher force, how men exulted and pride blinded them, how the Gods would favour their mortal child and often fought against other deathless Gods only realizing the mortality of humans and their petty battles leading to nothing other than a purposeless satiation of one’s ego. What merely seemed like stories found a home in the boy’s heart. The passion sill goes strong. Have you ever been deeply conscious of a passion you pursue so as to precisely depict the impingement of an ongoing rush of adrenaline hitting you every time you think of it? The tragedy, the unending conquest of humans as well as the Gods to extend their hands and rapaciously grab onto something higher than self ultimately leading to their downfall. The realization of hubris and the rationale behind it and yet repeating our mistakes seem to be a common theme yet the circumstances and the reasoning behind it always make the stories worth the read. This conspicuous theme with a backdrop of bloody violence and unfair dealings to the mortals leaves with the same expression and the same learnings which could be possibly abstracted from other pieces of Greek literature but it still connects me to the human side of events guided by force. Interesting thing about force is the way a human being would perceive it. It might just be the different emotions depicted as Gods. Or simply an ephemeral piece of conscious driving motives in the characters. I had originally intended to write a review sticking to my usual skeptical reader perspective trying to base them on facts and giving ratings depending on the degree of mitigating my skeptical nature towards a book but I have failed in doing so and I’m happy I did. I apologize for the disjointed review though and would gladly agree that my bias towards Greek mythology drove me to give this book a 5 star rating. Also, this probably might be the only passion I share with my father and in a recent telephonic conversation since we hardly meet thrice a year I told him I was reading ‘Iliad’. He replied, “Now? But you already know the complete story.” And yes I would still give it a 5-star if I re-read it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Zitong Ren

    I read the Iliad. And well, I suppose it what I was expected. It’s very slow and meandering with just event after event. There’s no real effort made to create a connection for the reader to be connected at all with either the plot with the characters. It’s really quite told in a distant way and as someone who is used to reading modern books which is really about being connected with the characters and the plot. My first attempt to read the book I think was last year, but I didn’t get very far as I read the Iliad. And well, I suppose it what I was expected. It’s very slow and meandering with just event after event. There’s no real effort made to create a connection for the reader to be connected at all with either the plot with the characters. It’s really quite told in a distant way and as someone who is used to reading modern books which is really about being connected with the characters and the plot. My first attempt to read the book I think was last year, but I didn’t get very far as it’s not the easiest read. However, after reading The Song of Achilles, which I loved not too long ago, I thought I would pick this up again, now that the context is much clearer. Didn’t love it as much as The Song of Achilles, even though that novel is a retelling of this one but it mean I was able to follow this one along just fine even though there are so many names to keep track of and I was able to get through all of it. Now, while I am reading a translated version of the text as unfortunately, I am not familiar with Ancient Greek, it is interesting to still look at some of the way this is worded. I found it oddly amusing that there was generally always some sort of description whenever a name of a character was mentioned. Instead of just saying Achilles, it was always something like, the son of Peleus, Achilles, or godlike Achilles. While it was almost funny at first seeing all the characters being introduced like this, it did start to get incredibly repetitive and annoying and in terms of modern writing, it is so unnecessary to provide an, albeit short description every time no matter how minor a character pops up. This book, which is set during the last few stages of the Trojan War features a lot of battle sequences and as a huge reader of modern fantasy, the way that action is written as changed drastically. I honestly prefer the way action is written now, where a lot of the time it is quick tense sequences, largely from the character’s perspective and at how the reader really gets to feel the adrenaline pumping through them. Here, everything just sort of casually moves along and some elements are described in excruciating detail. It was certainly interesting to see at how many soldier’s names are listed but the truth was, was that I didn’t really care less. Even though there are these massive grand action sequences on an epic scale featuring literal gods, they weren’t written in a way that was actually exciting. Now, I’m sure there are lots of elitists out there who would be like but but you don’t understand you uneducated swine. And sure, maybe I don’t. Maybe this is a genius piece of art and I simply cannot fathom at how brilliant it is. Or, maybe it’s something a white dude came up with almost 3,000 years ago and it’s time to move on to newer, more refreshing stories. Naturally, Homer, or at least, the person we tend to think of as Homer wasn’t actually born hundreds of years later after the supposed Trojan War. I find it fascinating at how people, just over time, find it difficult to tell the difference between myth and truth and at how it is almost easier to accept that gods walked amongst us once and at how the truth happens to be bent when stories are passed down orally. I perfectly understand at how important this story is in western literature, yet, as I found it to be overly slow and slightly repetitive, that from a modern standpoint, it failed to wow me. I get the value of this, yet if someone was to write like this now, where there is no character development, where the book is very repetitive and where the plot trudges very slowly along, it would be nowhere near as popular. A part of why this is still such a famous text is undoubtedly the fact that it was written so long ago. Anyways, it was ok I suppose and now I can say I’ve read the Iliad. Was it worth it? I mean sure. Didn’t blow me away or anything, but I also didn’t except it to. 5.5/10

  28. 5 out of 5

    Zoe Artemis Spencer Reid

    What I got from The Iliad: Pantheon of Greek gods was one big hell of dysfunctional family. Zeus was the most indecisive god ever and a terrible father who won't saved his son for fear of losing his face, so he rather just killed all of them. The only difference between mortals and gods was just immortality and power. Every moment of your life was literary on the whims of gods. Heroes were only heroes if gods willed it. One could be irrational or brave or filled by fear, weak or strong from second to What I got from The Iliad: Pantheon of Greek gods was one big hell of dysfunctional family. Zeus was the most indecisive god ever and a terrible father who won't saved his son for fear of losing his face, so he rather just killed all of them. The only difference between mortals and gods was just immortality and power. Every moment of your life was literary on the whims of gods. Heroes were only heroes if gods willed it. One could be irrational or brave or filled by fear, weak or strong from second to second as how gods made you felt. The admirable struggle of men and their endurance in life even as gods doomed them. Women, mortal and immortal alike were decoration or prize or spoil of wars that could only, maybe got their way by manipulation. Men were only worthy if they were warriors who got fame by sacking cities, stolen, enslaved and raped women and basically a mass murderer. Women, once captured developed a severe case of stockholm syndrome that they wailed for the death of their captors. A captured woman skilled in all arts worth 4 oxen while a tripod worth 12 oxen. Gods was how you cheated in a game. Never, ever bragged in front of gods, or you and your whole family will suffered the most terrible death. To read a work of over 2000 years was in itself a fortune. To travelled back in time that far ago and glimpsed the culture and values that people hold, the life and the belief that shaped their literature was a privilege. The fact that it used to be passed orally from multiple generations and persisted to today was just majestic and in itself contained the question of why? And what it said about us.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    What can I possibly say? Truly one of the greatest works of art our species has produced, remaining profoundly moving, thrilling, philosophically rich and emotionally complex well over 2000 year later. I have read other translations in the past but this new version from Caroline Alexander knocked my damn socks off. Pope’s version is poetry of the highest order, and was probably my favourite up till now, but the distance between it and the “original” is pretty immense. What this version lacked in What can I possibly say? Truly one of the greatest works of art our species has produced, remaining profoundly moving, thrilling, philosophically rich and emotionally complex well over 2000 year later. I have read other translations in the past but this new version from Caroline Alexander knocked my damn socks off. Pope’s version is poetry of the highest order, and was probably my favourite up till now, but the distance between it and the “original” is pretty immense. What this version lacked in poetry it made up for in immediacy, clarity and (from what I can tell from research) fidelity. Nothing felt forced, nothing too modernised and nothing too artificially antique. I would unhesitatingly recommend this translation as the new gold standard. If you have read the Iliad long ago, or only know it by reputation, or mistakenly believe it just to be lots of macho killing, or do not expect to find subtle, believable female characters inside...well...all I can say is you should give this new version (yes, the first by a woman. And, yes, that does matter) a go.

  30. 5 out of 5

    BAM Endlessly Booked

    Listening to the Iliad I realized just how much I vacillate. If I lived then would I have been a Greek or a Trojan? I can see both sides: obviously Helen was abducted, but Menalaeus saw her as a prize, not as a wife, and, therefore, was probably not his only one. Greece was known to invade and vanquish territories surrounding them. This just gave them an excuse. Troy defended themselves valiantly. Their army was not the same size as Greece, but they had a mighty walk that could not be breeched w Listening to the Iliad I realized just how much I vacillate. If I lived then would I have been a Greek or a Trojan? I can see both sides: obviously Helen was abducted, but Menalaeus saw her as a prize, not as a wife, and, therefore, was probably not his only one. Greece was known to invade and vanquish territories surrounding them. This just gave them an excuse. Troy defended themselves valiantly. Their army was not the same size as Greece, but they had a mighty walk that could not be breeched without trickery. This debate then leads me to think about who was the mightiest warrior. Obviously the choices narrow to Achilles and Hector, but what made Achilles so powerful was his mother's intervention, his staff from Chiron, his five-layered god blessed armor. Hector was mighty because he was a true determined hero. I see a reflection of Greece's ancient domination in Russia's dominance in Eastern Europe during WWII. It was a constant taking of territory and turning the people to a new way of life, destroying whatever is in the way or defies control. Lessons can still be learned from the Iliad. Lessons of honor, trust, loyalty, respect, determination For an alternative perspective check out The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller or Helen by Margaret George. 12/15/18 audiobook #252 reread

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