Iliad and Odyssey boxed set Paperback – 1999
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Top Customer Reviews
With many books, translations are negligible, with two obvious exceptions, one is the Bible, and surprisingly the other is The Iliad.
"Rage--Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus' son Achilles,
Murderous, doomed, that cost the Achaeans countless losses,
hurling down to the House of Death so many souls,
great fighters' souls. But made their bodies carrion,
feasts for dogs and birds,
and the will of Zeus was moving towards its end.
Begin, Muse, when the two first broke and clashed,
Agamemnon lord of men and brilliant Achilles."
-Translated by Robert Fagles
"Sing, O Goddess, the anger of Achilles, son of Peleus, that brought countless ills upon the Achaeans. Many a brave soul did it send hurrying down to Hades, and many a heroes did it yield a prey to dogs and vultures for so were the counsels of Zeus fulfilled from the day on which the son of Atreus, king of men, and great Achilles first fell out with one another."
-Translated by Samuel Butler
Our story takes place in the ninth year of the ongoing war. We get some introduction to the first nine years but they are just a background to this tale of pride, sorrow and revenge. The story will also end abruptly before the end of the war.
We have the wide conflict between the Trojans and Achaeans over a matter of pride; the gods get to take sides and many times direct spears and shields.
Although the more focused conflict is the power struggle between two different types of power. That of Achilles, son of Peleus and the greatest individual warier and that of Agamemnon, lord of men, who's power comes form position.Read more ›
What I will say about these editions is that they look fantastic. Whether sitting on a shelf or a desk, they are just lovely to look at. I'm aware that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover but they they look this good it's hard not to notice.
Robert Fagles does a great job translating both books in a manner which captures the spirit and inherent Greek-ness of the stories but makes them easy enough to understand for the modern reader. There is no middle English or half Greek or what some might consider nonsense language, the translation is very straightforward, easy to follow, and easy to understand. It takes a lot of work, dedication, and time to create what Fagles has accomplished here and I salute him for it.
If you're read these stories already in another translation I'd urge you to read Fagles as well, he breathes a different sort of life into the stories. If you've got old battered copies and are looking for new ones these shouldn't fail you ad they look lovely on a shelf together (With the Aeneid too, also by Fagles). If you've never read the Iliad or the Odyssey this set contains both at a modest price point and in the easiest to understand English without robbing the stories of their substance. Excellent work on Fagles behalf, I'll be reading these for many more years to come and hopefully you will be too!
However, it is still a powerful poem. The story is not what you might expect. There is no Trojan horse, no golden apples. It starts in the ninth year of the siege of Troy as Achilles, enraged by the actions of Agammemnon, breaks from the Argives and sulks in his tent. This sets in motion a chain of events that will result in a clash between himself and the great Trojan hero Hector. All of this unfolds next to a second tale - the fighting amongst the Olympian gods as they determine the destiny of Troy and the heroes from both armies fighting for it.
The Iliad unfolds novelistically. We start with the rage of Achilles in the plains of Troy. Gradually, slowly, the background is revealed - the reason for the Argive invasion of Troy, the reason for the rage of Achilles. It is only very late in the book that the reasons for Hera's hatred of Troy and the tight bond between Patroclus and Achilles is explained.
Although there are many characters in the book, Achilles is the most powerful. Passionate, temperamental, arrogant, brutal and courageous. In many ways, he comes across as the villian. He is opposed by Hector -- also arrogant and brutal, but a family man. Hector is both admired and loved by the Trojans. Achilles is admired by the Greeks, but not loved.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This was my very first classic literature book and I enjoyed it.Published 18 months ago by Camille Savoie
These are beautiful books. Simple paper backs, but so nicely put together. The typeface is easy to read, and the layout of the books is pleasing. Definitely a bargain at $25. Read morePublished on April 16 2011 by Luke Johnson
This box set is an amazing deal and a really great translation of Homer's works. I've read other editions but this one is much clearer, smoother, and understandable to the modern... Read morePublished on Feb. 25 2009 by The Frosty Hound
The Iliad and Odyssey two-pack is a great value on two classics that everyone should have in their collection. Read morePublished on March 21 2002 by D. Renkey
Robert Fagles has done an excellent job at giving life to this ancient 'song', an epic of war. If you read this translation aloud (which you should certainly do!! Read morePublished on March 9 2002 by Joyce M. Sico
This translation of Homer's classics 'The Iliad' and 'The Odyssey' is so clear and accurate that the brilliance of the classic really seems to shine through. Read morePublished on Feb. 7 2002 by T Kim
The iliad and the odyssey is one of the best books I have ever read I may be 13 years old but I understand what it means about the trojan war, how paris kidnapped helen the wife of... Read morePublished on Dec 9 2001
The Iliad translation is wonderful. My mouth was foaming as I felt Achilles' rage. I am not a frequent reader of the classics or poetry, but this one kept my attention and is one... Read morePublished on Nov. 28 2001