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The Iliad Paperback – Jan 7 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reissue edition (Jan. 7 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140275363
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140275360
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 13.7 x 4.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 816 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #15,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents


Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
"Iliad" is a word that means "a poem about Ilium" (i.e., Troy), and Homer's great epic poem has been known as "The Iliad" ever since the Greek historian Herodotus so referred to it in the fifth century B.C. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Judge Knott on May 8 2004
Format: Paperback
The other reviewers have done an excellent job of describing the plot of "The Iliad," so I'll just pass on some tips that have helped me enjoy this amazingly enriching work.
The challenge of reading "The Iliad" is reading it as it was meant to be read. That means you have to let go of our modern notion of accessing literature. This text is not a "book" or a "novel," and was never meant to be. (The notion of printed books and private reading of novels came along more than twenty centuries after Homer finished his poem!)
So you'll have to pretend, as you hold your copy of "The Iliad" in your hand, that you're actually back in Ancient Greece sitting in a small crowd of people on a hillside listening to an orator recite the poem. The reading would have been spread out over several days (or perhaps several nights) and the orator would have been a professional, sort of like a one-man theatre troupe. His performance (perhaps recalled from memory, perhaps read from a parchment script--no one knows for sure) would have had the timing, fire, and precision that the great Shakespearean actors would perfect two millenia later.
In short, pretend you're hearing the text, rather than eye-balling it. As you read each line in this top-notch modern English translation, enjoy it and gnaw on it and savor it as though it were from a short verse poem. If you've got the guts, read each line aloud, and listen to the echo. Don't let the work's complexity intimidate you: "The Iliad" gets better as you go along, as the work itself slowly tutors you how to read it. Understand that Homer meant it to be a challenging, marathon event, so don't be discouraged.
As you advance (take your time!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Plotinus on May 19 2004
Format: Hardcover
The Iliad contains all the knowledge you will ever need in human affairs. It imparts wisdom in understanding people and psychology which no other book can. The Iliad is the first book ever written in a European language, and it is also the best. It preserves the essence of Western culture in a capsule from the warrior days of prehistory. The heroic ethos displayed in the Iliad underlies all later warrior codes and societies; medieval knights, viking adventurers, and American cowboys, for example, all can trace their ethos back to this protohistoric 'macho' culture. In the days of Homer, and indeed of all ancient Indo-european societies, one's relationships with others and one's skill in speaking could mark the difference between life and death. In our more comfortable lives today, we cannot reproduce this precarious breeding-ground of cleverly persuasive speech, so we benefit greatly from learning these skills from the best of that period's speakers: Homer, as he puts 'winged words' in the mouths of his heroic men and women. The Iliad is 50% dialogue and vicious debate: it is almost a play more than a book. In this book, it is not the pen that is mightier than the sword, but rather the tongue. It comes to me as no surprise that the Greeks and Romans looked at this book, as they did no other, as their 'soly scriptures', albeit in a non-religious kind of way, to be studied, quoted and memorized for the sake of gaining wisdom and understanding in human affairs.
I have read the Iliad in its original Greek, and I can tell you that the rhythmical enchantment of the original can not in any way be reproduced in English, or in any other language. There is no way to capture the same hilarious moments or grand episodes of bravery with the same music in our language as Homer did with his Greek.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This translation is an excellent translation without being convoluted or losing it's historicity. Clear, concise and easy to read, definitely worth the great price and thoroughly enjoyed reading such an incredibly comprehensive and detailed version of the Iliad.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman on Dec 23 2002
Format: Paperback
The Iliad is a story of passion. In its sweep lies war and death, honor and pettiness, mortality, domesticity, gods and men.
In his excellent introduction to this edition, Bernard Knox tells us that the Iliad probably was written down between 725 and 675 B.C. It tells a story that was archaic even for its time that is set around 1200 B.C. The story of the Iliad covers a matter of days in the tenth and final year of the Trojan War. It is allusive to the entire mythology of that ancient struggle. The tale is deliberately mythical, with characters and emotions that, Homer tells us many times, are larger than those of men today. For too many, the Iliad comes encrusted as a "classic". People read it, or portions of it, in high school or college and inevitably miss much of the grandeur and wisdom of the work.
When I came back to the Iliad recently (after not having read the work in many years) in Fagles' translation, I was swept away. I accompanied my reading of the Iliad with an excellent series of lecture tapes on the poem and its background. I thought the translation, written in a modern colloquial free verse helped me to understand and read the poem. The translation, for me, gives the reader a sense of the repetitions, formulas and phraseology of the original. It has a sweep to it, and the style and translation does not get in the way of understanding the work. This is important in a modern translation of an ancient work. The translation was easy to follow and got me involved in the tale. I am sure the poem works differently in the ancient Greek than in this translation. But this is largely irrelevant to the virtue of Fagles's work which makes the Iliad come alive and roar in a manner which encourages the nonclassicist modern reader to approach it.
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