"The Iliad" is the first and the greatest literary achievement of Greek civilisation - an epic poem without rival in the literature of the world, and the cornerstone of Western culture. The story of the "Iliad" centres on the critical events in the last year of the Trojan War, which lead to Achilleus' killing of Hektor and determine the fate of Troy. But Homer's theme is not simply war or heroism. With compassion and humanity, he presents a universal and tragic view of the world, of human life lived under the shadow of suffering and death, set against a vast and largely unpitying divine background. "The Iliad" is the first of the great tragedies.
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In the Western classical tradition, Homer is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest of ancient Greek epic poets. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.
When he lived is unknown. Herodotus estimates that Homer lived 400 years before his own time, which would place him at around 850 BC, while other ancient sources claim that he lived much nearer to the supposed time of the Trojan War, in the early 12th century BC. Most modern researchers place Homer in the 7th or 8th centuries BC.
The formative influence of the Homeric epics in shaping Greek culture was widely recognized, and Homer was described as the teacher of Greece. Homer's works, which are about fifty percent speeches, provided models in persuasive speaking and writing that were emulated throughout the ancient and medieval Greek worlds. Fragments of Homer account for nearly half of all identifiable Greek literary papyrus finds.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Iliad?
Not what I expected. Jul 4, 2008
I'm really disapointed with this version of the Iliad. This version uses the Roman names for all the gods in the book. This makes it so confusing to figure out who is who I just stopped reading the book. I would return it but it would cost just as much to ship it as the book costs, so there's no point in doing that.
Best of the Translations Feb 3, 2008
This translation captures the noble grandeur of Homer's Iliad better than any of the others (Lattimore, Fagles, etc.--Lattimore's Odyssey is nearly perfect, but in the Iliad he uses words like "sir", which make his Iliad translation seem anachronistic and "cheeky" at times.)
Though it is referred to as a "prose" translation, it nevertheless achieves at least the same degree of poetry as the other "verse" translations (none of which actually reproduce the metrical rhythms of Homer, but merely try to match the same thoughts per line, with occasional distracting flights of fancy.)
The characters' speeches are rendered beautifully by Hammond, with striking directness, force, passion and noble pathos. In the Hammond translation, we have all the ritual, formulaic, noble and heroic grandeur of Homer's Iliad, with characters that come alive through their speeches, with clearly recognizable self-consciousness and sophistication of thought that easily elicits even the modern reader's empathy.
For novices to the classics, it improves with repetetive listening Mar 15, 2006
I felt very satisfied after having listened to this book once, and enriched after listening the second time. I had two challenges (described below) to overcome to get through this disc set, but I really felt engaged and enriched by the challenges as well as the story itself.
The first time I listened to the book, I found myself frequently referring back to the list of principal characters that is included with the CD. This list was extremely helpful because the characters sometimes have more than one name.
(example: "Diomede - also called Tydides (as he is the son of Tydeus), strong fighter")
Without the list I would've been confused. After an hour or so, I finally grasped the characters and then I was able to immerse myself into the story.
Another small hurdle for me was the "old english" way of speaking. While I do appreciate the style, it took me about an hour to fully get used to the sentance structure. This challenge was also good for me.
This audiobook really opened my mind and engaged me to think. I am pleased with the challenges and with the knowledge I gained from the story. I will listen to it again and again in the future.
Review of Martin Hammond's translation of the Iliad Oct 13, 2004
This is specifically a review of Martin Hammond's translation of the Iliad (I've noticed that reviews for different editions often appear lumped together). This is by far the best translation of the Iliad I have ever encountered and it led me to finally read the Iliad from beginning to end without skipping bits or skimming. It is a modern prose translation but is also faithful to the meaning of the original Greek (since the translator is not forced to try to turn his translation into verse). I simply cannot recommend it enough. A nice touch is that Hammond has given the different characters names that are far closer to the original Greek then the ones often used in other translations (e.g. Achilleus, Aias, Patroklos, Hektor).
The real Iliad, made for kids Jun 14, 2004
Seeing the recent movie Troy made me think about the kinds of stories I grew up with, and the kinds of stories my niece will grow up with. She likes MTV and television, and she likes to read, so she'll get a lot of stories. But I wonder if she'll get the classics?
This is the Iliad adapted for children. I would say the age range is as young as 8 years old up to 12 or 13 years of age. There are only really 40 pages, and a dozen of those pages are full color and nicely done pages showing in what might be a modern stylizing of ancient Greek drawings the action of the story.
This is very basic story. There is a prologue that sets the stage, that talks about the situation with Paris choosing the fairest of the goddesses and the stealing away of Helen. There is then a chapter on the quarrel, set after nine years of fighting. The second chapter has the duel between Paris and Menelaus, with Paris being saved miraculously. The idea that Achilles might leave the battle comes into it, but then Patroclus is also involved, who gets killed in the battle by Hector, who is then killed later in another battle by Achilles.
The story ends with the death and funeral of Hector, except to say that fighting resumed after the truce. The Trojan Horse is not in this story, but instead is found in Odyssey.
Because this is a book for children, there is a two page glossary of names at the back of the book, divided by giving the Greek side, the Trojan side, and the gods and goddesses involved. This is a very different story from the recent film, and given that it is a simplified version of the story for intended for children, it is a very good job of telling the Iliad. There is a companion volume also adapted by Diana Stewart for the Odyssey. The artwork in this book was done by Charles Shaw, and is quite colorful and interesting.