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ENDURING LITERATURE ILLUMINATED BY PRACTICAL SCHOLARSHIP

The story of the Trojan War, an epic tale of men and gods, of the heroes and horrors of war.

THIS ENRICHED CLASSIC EDITION INCLUDES:


A concise introduction that gives readers important background information A timeline of significant events that provides the book's historical context An outline of key themes and plot points to help readers form their own interpretations Detailed explanatory notes Critical analysis and modern perspectives on the work Discussion questions to promote lively classroom and book group interaction A list of recommended related books and films to broaden the reader's experience

Enriched Classics offer readers affordable editions of great works of literature enhanced by helpful notes and insightful commentary. The scholarship provided in Enriched Classics enables readers to appreciate, understand, and enjoy the world's finest books to their full potential.

SERIES EDITED BY CYNTHIA BRANTLEY JOHNSON

Topics: Mythology, War, Ancient Greece, Trojan War, Greek Mythology, Heroes, Kings, Adventurous, Violent, Poetic, Poetry, Translated, Ancient Times, Greece, Epic, and Literary Criticism

Published: Simon & Schuster on
ISBN: 9781416540151
List price: $13.99
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Robust, violent, magnificent. I love ancient Greek and Roman literature and this (along with the Odyssey) is the crowning jewel of the time period. Never gets old for me.more
Of the epics I studied, the Iliad was my least favourite. My favourite character in Greek myth is Cassandra, but she barely appears in the Iliad. I ended up wanting to skip a lot of the fighting scenes.more
Stephen Mitchell translates a classic better than any action flick made in the past 10 years.more
Okay, so this is a forthcoming translation by Stephen Mitchell, who did a pretty good version of Gilgamesh working from secondary sources; he speaks the Greek apparently, so we won't have to worry about that here. And it's from this new, whatever, some guy who says the Iliad we've been reading has all kinds of crap crammed into it so this is the original cleaner version. I have no idea how legit that is. I guess I should look it up or something.

Anyway, the point is that it has a pretty cover.more
I'm actually not sure which translation of this I read, but what fun. I studied this in class in high school and the teacher did an excellent job of bringing in other sources to explain the allusions and make it more compelling.more
Took me 2 1/2 months, but totally worth the time and late fines.

Would make a very good graphic novel.more
Excellent translation that catches the meaning of the Iliad nicely. It's a favorite for study in my classes. Lattimore doesn't try to capture so much the rhyme behind it but what the meaning was. You can even get the jokes behind the dog names. No other translation can do that as well.

I really do recommend this esp if you have read or have been force fed the Iliad and hope never to hear about it again. It changed my tune.more
I've read this a couple of times now and find it more and more compelling. The bickering of the gods is amusing, the rage of achilles is both maddening but also rendered well, the battle scenes are viscously detailed. It's a demanding text, but this translation makes the reading easy, even if the names and events are not.more
A cornerstone of Western literature that remains hugely influential. Read it for that reason, and because the poetry is still enjoyable enough to be read aloud with panache. The story itself is mostly a catalog of slaughter with very little human drama, although the interaction between the gods and the human characters is fascinating and tragic.more
I remember when I was around fourteen or fifteen years old I decided I wanted to read the Iliad. I went to the public library and asked for it (they had to pull it out of their back room for me). And I remember opening the first page and seeing that it was in poem format. I was immediately put off. I had never liked poetry and at my age the few pages I did try to read went over my small head. Ever since I knew some day I would come back to the epic poem. This semester was the year in my literature class. I love literature and I love this class because it is finally getting me to pick up and read the epic stories that I have always wanted to read. I've read excerpts here and there and seen online summaries. I've even read a few children's books renditions. But nothing compares to the actual poem itself. This was my first read of the poem as a whole. Now my professor doesn't like how Lombardo has translated the epic, and says that it is too 'dumbed down' now. I can see where she is coming from because some phrases that Lombardo includes certainly takes away the image of the elegant language this would have been first told in. It did however give me a simple and very understandable rendition of the events to the epic. However, now I want to find another translation that doesn't do this. I want something that seems more authentic to the time period. I think it's a good translation for someone who hasn't come across the classical language in the time of the Greeks and Romans, but for those who have, it may not be exactly what you're looking for. (Above it says: Lombardo attempts to adapt the text to the needs of readers rather than the listeners for whom the work was originally intended.' Does that say something about the needs of readers now-a-days?) The other complaint I have is that in this translation, some Books are left out of the whole poem. I believe this is because the books included are the most important one when dealing with turning events in the epic, but there's bound to be some information that is lost that way. Anyways, I'm glad I finally got to the epic. It's a fantastic myth! Now I want a more complete translation. :) I'm going to go find an audio book translation, because really this epic was meant to be listened to, not read :)more
For those who enjoy different versions of Homer, this is a splendidly clear and fast paced, abridged version of the Iliad by a major 20th century literary theorist. He has been forgotten in recent years, which is a pity. Richards is an exhilarating rediscovery.more
Media and language have shifted innumerably before, and will in the future, I imagine... the smart phone is just a stone skip of time. Nevertheless, I find the idea of reading ancient greek literature on a kindle app on a smart phone really amusing. Homer basically accomplished what I imagine one of his goals was - to immortalize the heroics and feats of the warriors and document the destruction of Troy for all time. Yet for all that, the Iliad reads like a game of football with the line of scrimmage moving back and forth and the Greeks and Trojans alternating between offense and defense. At first the 'well greaved Greeks' were winning… but now Hector 'of the glancing helm' has turned the tide and most of the Greek heroes are wounded and stuck in sick bay…. and then the tide turns again at the whim of Zeus. There is quite a lot of 'this one killed that one, and another one bit the bloody dust'. There are more creative ways to kill someone with a spear than I ever imagined. Some of the details are actually fairly gory. What's confusing, I find, is that at the moment of each death Homer tells the life story of the slain, or at least the vital information such as where they were from, their lineage, and who their wife was. There's a lot of familiar names and it's interesting to see them all in one place here since they are somewhat more ingrained in my head from elsewhere. Like Laertes (thank you Shakespeare) or Hercules (thank you Kevin Sorbo) or Saturn (thank you GM). There are the other random lesser gods or immortals like Sleep (no thanks to you Starbucks) or Aurora (the borealis is on the bucket list).Homer barely mentions the scene or uses descriptions at all unless it directly relates to the battle. Apparently the only such things worth recording was when the battle was at the Greek ships or Trojan city wall or if the gods were yammering away on Mount Olympus. Descriptions are fairly short and uniform and there is a lot of repetition. I heard on RadioLab that Homer did not use any instance of the color blue and some thought he may have been color blind. I did find, however, two instances of blue - one as "dark blue" and one as "azure" -- though never "blue" by itself. RadioLab gets a bunch of details wrong frequently anyway, which is really neither here nor there. One thing I found interesting is the idea and extent of how involved the Greek gods/immortals were in the lives and fates of the mortals. To the point where there are teams of gods aligned loosely for or against the Trojans. This was completely excised in the movie Troy, which I watched as I neared finishing reading this. I had no interest in seeing the movie when it came out but, figured why not. I was actually impressed with how much Hollywood got right in Troy - but of course my expectations were low to begin, thinking it would be a mixed-up and mushy story. I think the biggest things they told differently was how they treated women characters (nicer than Homer) especially Briseus. Also, Patroclus' relationship with Achilles was changed, and as I mentioned, there was no depiction of the gods. Plotwise, the movie included the Trojan horse episode, which is not actually in The Iliad (it's related in The Aenid, by Virgil). Apparently my memory from elementary school did not serve me well because I was expecting to read about the Trojan Horse and didn't believe what I was reading in front of me when the book ended without it! Even went downloading a few other versions and snooping around online to verify. Just goes to show me that my preconceived notions are not always right! And that things get muddied up when stories and retellings merge. Nevertheless, a lot of the detail and direct actions and even dialogue of the characters in the movie did come straight out of the book, so someone clearly was familiar with it, which was a pleasant surprise.more
Homer is the tradition of epic storytelling and reading it in Spanish is enjoying it on a whole new level.more
The Iliad was o.k., but I kept expecting it to get better. It was so repetetive that I found myself getting bored.The plot went something like this:The Achaeians are taunting the Trojans.The Trojan hero is taunting the Achaeian hero.Athena has decided to intervene for the Achaeians.Apollo has decided to intervene for Troy.The mortals whine and Zues forbids the gods to intervene.The gods whine. Everybody whines.On and on it went. It was interesting in parts, but, frankly, it reminded me too much of a modern football game, or of groups of little boys taunting each other all the time.I stayed with it because I kept hoping it would get better, especially since I loved The Odyssey. Also, it was something that I felt I should read, since it's the foundation of so much Western literature.I kept waiting to read about the Trojan Horse, or about the injury to Achilles heel.I did enjoy some parts. Especially when Hera was nagging Zeus. It gave me a good chuckle.As much as I disliked The Iliad, I love The Odyssey. It seems to me to have been written by an entirely different person, even though the translator is the same.more
Homer's epic poem about the war between the Greeks and Trojans requires no review. However, Stanley Lombardo's translation deserves high praise. Lombardo brings the poem to life. In some places the language is gorgeously poetic and evocative as he describes the sea or a sunrise, and in others it is horrifically blunt describing a spear crashing through someone's skull and grey matter oozing out. While Homer's narrative meanders a bit, Lombardo manages to build in tension from the moment Patroclus puts on Achilles armour to the moment where Hector and Achilles finally battle. Lombardo's work is a great translation that really brings the poem to life for a modern audience.more
As much as I love the Greeks in general, the Illiad is never as good a read as the Odyssey mostly because it's 80% horrible violent fighting and despair at a neverending war and then 20% interesting characters, speeches, and god/mortal interaction. I'll admit, I always end up doing a fair bit of skimming. The emotional resonance and epic descriptions are still as strong as the Odyssey, it just doesn't have the same fluid narrative. And then there's the fact that hearing how hundreds of people die in excruciating detail over and over again might be a good lesson against glorifying war, but it's just depressing. Personally, Achilles is just less likable a character. The really enjoyable part of this book is the relations between the gods and the mortals and the question of the inevitability of Fate.more
Most people halfway conversant with Literature (with a capital L) are familiar with the basic story of The Iliad—but halfway conversant doesn't mean we've read it. As one of those people, I've always felt slightly guilty about my lack of firsthand exposure to this great poem, and so I welcomed the chance to listen to it on audiobook. At 18 hours (including the introduction), it was a bit of a commitment, though fascinating to think that I was experiencing the poem as its ancient audience did, with someone reciting it aloud. Though there are many battle scenes and speeches, the main event in the poem is the death of Patroclus and the ensuing combat between Hector and Achilles, culminating with the high emotion of Priam's humble but daring request for his son's body. The Iliad ends with Hector's funeral, before the Achaeans leave their fateful wooden horse for the downfall of Troy, and the characters stand forever poised on the edge of their fate. We know what's coming, of course, but they never reach it in this piece of the larger tale. I found the gods to be some of the most fascinating characters in the story. They are all deeply invested (for whatever reason) in the outcome of the battle, with some favoring the Trojans and others the Achaeans. It's astonishing to what lengths they are willing to go to get their desired result. Interestingly, when they appear to mortals they have to wear the form of a human; they can't show themselves as they are. (Presumably the humans couldn't handle it.) Many of the gods are in fierce competition with each other, and their motivations seem very human: jealousy, anger, annoyance, selfishness, self promotion, etc. They scheme endlessly and fight among themselves, cowed and controlled only by the overwhelming might of Zeus. Near the end of the poem their fighting actually turns into physical confrontation, as they begin punching each other in their anger. So we have deities who are hugely powerful and majestic, but who act just like flawed human beings. They just happen to have supernatural powers. It's an interesting framework. In some ways the human characters are just puppets in the hands of the gods. The gods can trip you up in a chariot race, fill your heart with either cowardice or battle lust, deceive you by taking the semblance of a trusted councilor, cow you into obedience with threats, pull you out of battle to heal your wounds, snap your bowstring at just the wrong moment, whisk you away from certain death in single combat (so you stay alive and your honor is not impugned, conveniently), and engage in any amount of manipulation, deception, and outright coercion to get what they want. And yet... with all this control the gods exercise (and the humans acknowledge), I still have to wonder who is really controlling whom. Why do the gods care so much what happens? Some of them even wonder about this themselves, talking about the fleeting lifespan of pathetic humanity and asking why they are investing so much energy in creatures so insignificant. And yet they continue to involve themselves in the decisive events of the times. Are they afraid of becoming irrelevant? Is their desire for worship so overweening? The Iliad really is about war; all life is a battle and even the best and bravest can die horribly in it. Death in a thousand forms is described for us—death by spear to the brain, by spear up through the buttock into the bladder, by a spear to the liver (with the liver falling out of the gaping wound), by a spear through the eyes, by arrows, by skulls cracking and brains exploding inside your helmet, by being hit by a rock, etc. The battles rage for most of the poem and we see every kind of pep talk a commander can give, every flavor of taunt an enemy can yell, every victory and every crushing defeat. Homer describes the joy of battle and its terrible sorrows. His impartiality has allowed the poem to be interpreted in many different ways over the centuries, with some considering the poem an anti-war diatribe, with others (famously Alexander the Great) viewing it as a celebration of the courage and heroism displayed in war. Everyone has a backstory. We'll be at a pivotal point, someone's making a speech that will decide the army's course of action, and he launches into a long tale about, say, his father's exploits or something similar. Once I got used to the device, I grew to like it; these backstories are like bonuses, little pockets of story that enrich the larger history. But they do take a little getting used to.I didn't like the introduction by Stephen Mitchell, or his translation. First off, Mitchell reads his own introduction, and a more insipid, effeminate, weak, monotone voice can't be imagined. It seemed he was even boring himself. And it went on for two CDs! It didn't really tell me anything interesting, either. I should have just trusted my own English-major training and experienced the poem for myself, unhampered by Mitchell's extremely obvious observations. And his translation is distressingly dumbed down. The Iliad is supposed to be an epic... and Mitchell translates it to a fatuous modern parlance that almost makes the heroic content sound comical. In a letter, J. R. R. Tolkien once demonstrated how ludicrous it is to express heroic sentiments in modern slang and clichés, rewriting Théoden's archaically flavored speech about his desire to die on the battlefield to frame it in modern terms. The example is actually quite funny, and vividly demonstrates that heroic sentiments cannot be put in modern terms; we may have the vocabulary, but our words just aren't wired for it. And the astute reader senses the disconnect at once. Mitchell's modern take on the legend is disappointing, and I'm all out of patience with the back cover blurbs that claim he has "given fresh energy and poetic force" to the work. Not so much. Render it with an eye to the poetry and the distance of it, and you'll do better.Alfred Molina does the best he can with Mitchell's weak rendition of the poem, and reads it more like prose than poetry (which is probably a good choice). It was such a relief to hear his rich voice after the nasally tones of Mitchell.Though this version of the epic is not something I would recommend, I'm glad to have listened to it and gained firsthand exposure to its characters and themes. I'm sure that in the right hands the translation would lend power and grace to this perennially influential work, but I was able to enjoy it, even as it was. I would have rated it more highly had the translation been better. Eventually I'll probably look into a different translation; I've heard good things about the translations of Alexander Pope and E. V. Rieu. Any other recommendations are welcome!Thank you to Audiobook Jukebox and Simon & Schuster Audio for the opportunity to review this audiobook.more
I decided not to finish reading this. There were parts I was thoroughly caught up in and loving, but then they were followed by sections with the gods interfering and being a nuisance. The human drama and description of battle was terrific, but the gods ruined everything the humans were about to achieve. I don't have the patience to work through it at this time of my life, and so decided I would move on.more
I love The Illiad only a little bit less than The Odyssey, the other epic poem attributed to Homer. Together the two works are considered among the oldest surviving works of Western literature, dating to probably the eighth century BCE, and are certainly among the most influential. The Illiad deals with just a few weeks in the last year of the decade-long Trojan War. As the opening lines state, it deals with how the quarrel between the Greek's great hero Achilles and their leader Agamemnon "caused the Akhaians loss on bitter loss and crowded brave souls into the undergloom."So, essentially, this is a war story. One close to three thousand years old with a mindset very alien to ours. One where unending glory was seen as a great good over personal survival or family. One where all felt that their ends were fated. And one with curiously human, or at least petty, gods. Some see the work as jingoistic, even pro-war, and I suppose it can be read that way, but what struck me was the compassion with which Homer wrote of both sides. We certainly care for the Trojan Hector as much as or more (in my case much more) than for the sulky and explosive Achilles. For the Trojan King Priam as much or more (in my case much more) than King Agamemnon. Homer certainly doesn't obscure the pity, the waste, and the grief war brings. And there are plenty of scenes in the work that I found unforgettable: The humorous scene where Aphrodite is wounded and driven from the field. The moving scene between Hector and his wife and child. The grief Helen feels in losing a friend. The confrontation between Priam and Achilles.This is one work where translations make a huge difference. Keats poem "On Chapman's Homer" is all about how a translation opened his eyes to "realms of gold" in The Illiad he had not appreciated before. I was forced to read Homer in high school (I suspect the Lattimore translation) and hated it as boring and tedious. Maturity might have helped change how I felt on reread--but I had my own "Keats Experience" when I discovered Robert Fitzgerald's translation. I've never read the Fagles translation some reviewers are recommending, but you might want to look up various translations to see which one speaks to you before embarking on a full read.more
I read this -at last- some months ago. I was a bit disappointed; I think the battle scenes, which appeal so much to many male readers, tend to leave the women readers cold, though, as a one time champion Sportsfighter, I was once a bit attracted to the adrenalin rush of battle myself. Still, I found these gruesome without being riveting.I felt for many of the characters and for Achilles, a demi god and isolated in the human world, but so alien is the culture, so oppressed the women that I couldn't really get absorbed by the story.more
Three things about The Iliad. 1. There are quite a few metaphors about lions, who either kill cattle or sheep or are hunted in turn. 3,000 years ago Greece was overrun with lions.2. It's interesting that one of the first long narratives in human has no suspense. The sack of Troy is a foregone conclusion. Even Achilles knows his fate. 3. I read Fagles' translation. I love it, but I think Fitzgerald is slightly better at conveying the strangeness of this world even if that does lead him astray sometimes.more
A Classic ancient poem, filled with action, love, violence and war.more
Set in Ancient Greece, The Iliad is an epic poem about a decade-long war. The book starts when the Trojans and Achaeans have already been at war for years. The war itself begins because Paris (a Trojan), steals Helen, the wife of Menelaus (an Achaean). This gives the Achaeans an excuse to load up their ships and head to Troy to attack them. Helen is the woman behind the infamous “face that launched a thousand ships.” ***SPOILERS*** Paris’ brother Hector is a great warrior, unlike Paris, and because of this he leads the Trojan side of the battle. The Achaeans’ greatest warrior is Achilles, but a falling out with Agamemnon (Menelaus’ brother, leader of the Greeks) over spoils of war causes Achilles to refuse to fight. It’s not until Hector kills his close friend, Patroclus, that Achilles rejoins the war to avenge his friend’s death. Confused yet? It’s pretty straight forward while you’re reading it, but it sounds convoluted when you try to summarize it. It’s considered the greatest war story ever told and so obviously there are a lot of battle scenes. I really liked the moral dilemmas, but after awhile the battles seemed repetitive. I loved The Odyssey, (Homer’s book that followed one of the warriors on his journey home after the Trojan War), so much because it’s one man’s journey and every aspect of his adventure is new and unexpected. With the Iliad, Homer has to convey the exhaustion the men feel after fighting the same battle for years. The fatigue was contagious and I felt it about half way through the book. Things pick up towards the end because big players are dying and you know it’s all coming to a head. The plot is frustrating at times, because the meddlesome gods cause more problems than they solve. They’re petty and territorial and they choose humans that they want to champion and they don’t care who is hurt along the way. It also seems to remove the element of free choice in the warriors; lives. They can choose to do something, but the gods will just prevent it from happening if they want to. After Hector is killed there is a brief mention of Helen's loneliness. She was taken from her home and is treated horribly by most people in Troy because they see her as the reason for the war. Hector was always kind to her and she realizes that none of her only friends is now dead and the loneliness is overwhelming. Even though this is a tiny part, it was really poignant to me. She’s always painted as a guilty party in this legend, leaving her husband for another man, causing a war, etc. I never thought about how terrible her life must have been. I couldn't believe that the infamous Trojan Horse makes no appearance in The Iliad. It's my own fault for assuming it was part of the book, but I kept waiting for that part ... and then it ended. Apparently the Trojan Horse in mentioned in The Odyssey, which I remember, and then the full story is found in The Aeneid by Virgil. One of my favorite scenes in the book is the exchange between Priam and Achilles. Priam (Hector’s father) goes to talk to Achilles after his son is killed. He begs Achilles to let him have Hector’s body. The beauty of this scene is that it strips away ten-years of war and reduces the powerful Priam and Achilles to two grieving men. They aren’t on opposite ends of an epic battle; they’re just heartbroken individuals lamenting the cost of war. ***SPOILERS OVER*** In the end, The Iliad is a must read, not because it’s the best book ever, but because it’s a cornerstone of literature. It has provided the basis and inspiration for countless war stories in the centuries since its creation. It’s one of the oldest and most well-known stories in existence and that’s not something anyone should miss. But I would recommend The Odyssey over The Iliad if you’re only going to read one, even though that story comes after this one in chronological order.  more
This translation is slow going and a bit awkward for reading pleasure. (See my review of Lombardo's translation for that purpose) But, if you want to know exactly what the Greek says, but you don't know any Greek (a tragedy, but I realize there are lots of people who suffer from this!), then this is the translation to use. Because my Greek is a bit rusty and slow going these days, I often use it to check passages quickly and see where I want to spend time in the Greek.more
After reading W. H. D. Rouse's delightful prose translation of Homer's Odyssey, I was excited to pick up his translation of the Iliad. Having never read this classic before, I was expecting something similar to the Odyssey, which of course I did not get! Instead I read an incredibly bloody account of the Trojan War. The story line was very addicting; indeed, I kept waiting and waiting for Achilles to make peace with Agamemnon and get into the fighting. I was impressed with the true manliness and might of Hector. My heart grew heavy reading the account of Patrocles' death. I even felt for poor Hector's dad when he, an old man, had to risk his own life to claim the body of his slain son. I also appreciated the strong emphasis on the importance of morals and ethics, even on the battlefield (and even if they don't quite match my own). In today's American society, where for so many people the idea of ethical behavior or objective morals is foreign, it was refreshing to see men willing to die for their beliefs in an honorable way. Indeed, I kept getting the distinct impression that this story was crafted, in part, to teach young Greek boys how to be upstanding men in their culture. (Perhaps someone with more of a background in Homer than I have can confirm or deny this thought.)All in all, this was a compelling, instructive, manly, bloody, and difficult read. I'm glad I read it, and I can see why it has endured throughout the millennia. Like many classics, I think it will take me several more readings and a lot of contemplation, though, to really understand all that is going on in this story; and in so doing, I have no doubt that it will help me to understand myself better, as well.more
This is of course one of the great very early icons of western literature. This translation is clearly a good one and brings across the action well. There are some great set pieces which impress when read individually. However, the problem, which has made me stop reading a little over half way through, is that it is very, very repetitive. Battle scenes and death throes are described in very similar ways. I realise that this is probably part of the oral tradition from which the epic descends. However, it does not make for good reading. I have to say - and this goes against the usual grain for me - that this probably is one where there is a case for reading choice extracts and a summary of the whole plot to get at the essence of this classic work of literature.more
Though there are many translations of Homer's epic 'Iliad', the Richmond Lattimore translation is by far the best I have read. I say this for several reasons. First and foremost, this is not a prose translation, this is a full translation kept in the original verse form. I have read prose translations of Homer and they simply do not do Homer's language justice. I was first exposed to this translation in college, and I could not put it down. Besides conveying the majesty of the characters, the rhythm and beauty of Homer's language is something to be admired, and this is probably the closest one can get to experiencing it in the ancient Greek. As with all classics, Homer's characters are dated to their historical period, yet their trials and emotional journeys are readily identified by a modern audience. This is high tragedy without compare, as Homer portrays flawed men who walk like gods, heroes who are filled with doubts for all their bravado, and at their center, the mighty Achilles, who embodies the best and worst of men, yet in private, when all things might point to his succombing to his pride, he shows his best when dealing with Priam for the body of fallen Hector. Yes, there are many battle scenes, and they can be brutal in their description. This is a story of war, after all, but the savagery employed on the battlefield serves its place in contrast to the more noble actions of the lead heroes. Furthermore, unlike every movie I've seen about the Trojan War, Homer does not try to equivocate the war in terms of economy, empire, and diluting matters through our very different modern morality. This is not to say Homer's world is morally simplistic, on the contrary, there is more than a fair share of debate among the heroes as to why they should continue the war, and questions as to its motivation. But all this aside, if nothing else, this is a fantastic epic, and once read, it is no mystery why it has endured to this day.more
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Reviews

Robust, violent, magnificent. I love ancient Greek and Roman literature and this (along with the Odyssey) is the crowning jewel of the time period. Never gets old for me.more
Of the epics I studied, the Iliad was my least favourite. My favourite character in Greek myth is Cassandra, but she barely appears in the Iliad. I ended up wanting to skip a lot of the fighting scenes.more
Stephen Mitchell translates a classic better than any action flick made in the past 10 years.more
Okay, so this is a forthcoming translation by Stephen Mitchell, who did a pretty good version of Gilgamesh working from secondary sources; he speaks the Greek apparently, so we won't have to worry about that here. And it's from this new, whatever, some guy who says the Iliad we've been reading has all kinds of crap crammed into it so this is the original cleaner version. I have no idea how legit that is. I guess I should look it up or something.

Anyway, the point is that it has a pretty cover.more
I'm actually not sure which translation of this I read, but what fun. I studied this in class in high school and the teacher did an excellent job of bringing in other sources to explain the allusions and make it more compelling.more
Took me 2 1/2 months, but totally worth the time and late fines.

Would make a very good graphic novel.more
Excellent translation that catches the meaning of the Iliad nicely. It's a favorite for study in my classes. Lattimore doesn't try to capture so much the rhyme behind it but what the meaning was. You can even get the jokes behind the dog names. No other translation can do that as well.

I really do recommend this esp if you have read or have been force fed the Iliad and hope never to hear about it again. It changed my tune.more
I've read this a couple of times now and find it more and more compelling. The bickering of the gods is amusing, the rage of achilles is both maddening but also rendered well, the battle scenes are viscously detailed. It's a demanding text, but this translation makes the reading easy, even if the names and events are not.more
A cornerstone of Western literature that remains hugely influential. Read it for that reason, and because the poetry is still enjoyable enough to be read aloud with panache. The story itself is mostly a catalog of slaughter with very little human drama, although the interaction between the gods and the human characters is fascinating and tragic.more
I remember when I was around fourteen or fifteen years old I decided I wanted to read the Iliad. I went to the public library and asked for it (they had to pull it out of their back room for me). And I remember opening the first page and seeing that it was in poem format. I was immediately put off. I had never liked poetry and at my age the few pages I did try to read went over my small head. Ever since I knew some day I would come back to the epic poem. This semester was the year in my literature class. I love literature and I love this class because it is finally getting me to pick up and read the epic stories that I have always wanted to read. I've read excerpts here and there and seen online summaries. I've even read a few children's books renditions. But nothing compares to the actual poem itself. This was my first read of the poem as a whole. Now my professor doesn't like how Lombardo has translated the epic, and says that it is too 'dumbed down' now. I can see where she is coming from because some phrases that Lombardo includes certainly takes away the image of the elegant language this would have been first told in. It did however give me a simple and very understandable rendition of the events to the epic. However, now I want to find another translation that doesn't do this. I want something that seems more authentic to the time period. I think it's a good translation for someone who hasn't come across the classical language in the time of the Greeks and Romans, but for those who have, it may not be exactly what you're looking for. (Above it says: Lombardo attempts to adapt the text to the needs of readers rather than the listeners for whom the work was originally intended.' Does that say something about the needs of readers now-a-days?) The other complaint I have is that in this translation, some Books are left out of the whole poem. I believe this is because the books included are the most important one when dealing with turning events in the epic, but there's bound to be some information that is lost that way. Anyways, I'm glad I finally got to the epic. It's a fantastic myth! Now I want a more complete translation. :) I'm going to go find an audio book translation, because really this epic was meant to be listened to, not read :)more
For those who enjoy different versions of Homer, this is a splendidly clear and fast paced, abridged version of the Iliad by a major 20th century literary theorist. He has been forgotten in recent years, which is a pity. Richards is an exhilarating rediscovery.more
Media and language have shifted innumerably before, and will in the future, I imagine... the smart phone is just a stone skip of time. Nevertheless, I find the idea of reading ancient greek literature on a kindle app on a smart phone really amusing. Homer basically accomplished what I imagine one of his goals was - to immortalize the heroics and feats of the warriors and document the destruction of Troy for all time. Yet for all that, the Iliad reads like a game of football with the line of scrimmage moving back and forth and the Greeks and Trojans alternating between offense and defense. At first the 'well greaved Greeks' were winning… but now Hector 'of the glancing helm' has turned the tide and most of the Greek heroes are wounded and stuck in sick bay…. and then the tide turns again at the whim of Zeus. There is quite a lot of 'this one killed that one, and another one bit the bloody dust'. There are more creative ways to kill someone with a spear than I ever imagined. Some of the details are actually fairly gory. What's confusing, I find, is that at the moment of each death Homer tells the life story of the slain, or at least the vital information such as where they were from, their lineage, and who their wife was. There's a lot of familiar names and it's interesting to see them all in one place here since they are somewhat more ingrained in my head from elsewhere. Like Laertes (thank you Shakespeare) or Hercules (thank you Kevin Sorbo) or Saturn (thank you GM). There are the other random lesser gods or immortals like Sleep (no thanks to you Starbucks) or Aurora (the borealis is on the bucket list).Homer barely mentions the scene or uses descriptions at all unless it directly relates to the battle. Apparently the only such things worth recording was when the battle was at the Greek ships or Trojan city wall or if the gods were yammering away on Mount Olympus. Descriptions are fairly short and uniform and there is a lot of repetition. I heard on RadioLab that Homer did not use any instance of the color blue and some thought he may have been color blind. I did find, however, two instances of blue - one as "dark blue" and one as "azure" -- though never "blue" by itself. RadioLab gets a bunch of details wrong frequently anyway, which is really neither here nor there. One thing I found interesting is the idea and extent of how involved the Greek gods/immortals were in the lives and fates of the mortals. To the point where there are teams of gods aligned loosely for or against the Trojans. This was completely excised in the movie Troy, which I watched as I neared finishing reading this. I had no interest in seeing the movie when it came out but, figured why not. I was actually impressed with how much Hollywood got right in Troy - but of course my expectations were low to begin, thinking it would be a mixed-up and mushy story. I think the biggest things they told differently was how they treated women characters (nicer than Homer) especially Briseus. Also, Patroclus' relationship with Achilles was changed, and as I mentioned, there was no depiction of the gods. Plotwise, the movie included the Trojan horse episode, which is not actually in The Iliad (it's related in The Aenid, by Virgil). Apparently my memory from elementary school did not serve me well because I was expecting to read about the Trojan Horse and didn't believe what I was reading in front of me when the book ended without it! Even went downloading a few other versions and snooping around online to verify. Just goes to show me that my preconceived notions are not always right! And that things get muddied up when stories and retellings merge. Nevertheless, a lot of the detail and direct actions and even dialogue of the characters in the movie did come straight out of the book, so someone clearly was familiar with it, which was a pleasant surprise.more
Homer is the tradition of epic storytelling and reading it in Spanish is enjoying it on a whole new level.more
The Iliad was o.k., but I kept expecting it to get better. It was so repetetive that I found myself getting bored.The plot went something like this:The Achaeians are taunting the Trojans.The Trojan hero is taunting the Achaeian hero.Athena has decided to intervene for the Achaeians.Apollo has decided to intervene for Troy.The mortals whine and Zues forbids the gods to intervene.The gods whine. Everybody whines.On and on it went. It was interesting in parts, but, frankly, it reminded me too much of a modern football game, or of groups of little boys taunting each other all the time.I stayed with it because I kept hoping it would get better, especially since I loved The Odyssey. Also, it was something that I felt I should read, since it's the foundation of so much Western literature.I kept waiting to read about the Trojan Horse, or about the injury to Achilles heel.I did enjoy some parts. Especially when Hera was nagging Zeus. It gave me a good chuckle.As much as I disliked The Iliad, I love The Odyssey. It seems to me to have been written by an entirely different person, even though the translator is the same.more
Homer's epic poem about the war between the Greeks and Trojans requires no review. However, Stanley Lombardo's translation deserves high praise. Lombardo brings the poem to life. In some places the language is gorgeously poetic and evocative as he describes the sea or a sunrise, and in others it is horrifically blunt describing a spear crashing through someone's skull and grey matter oozing out. While Homer's narrative meanders a bit, Lombardo manages to build in tension from the moment Patroclus puts on Achilles armour to the moment where Hector and Achilles finally battle. Lombardo's work is a great translation that really brings the poem to life for a modern audience.more
As much as I love the Greeks in general, the Illiad is never as good a read as the Odyssey mostly because it's 80% horrible violent fighting and despair at a neverending war and then 20% interesting characters, speeches, and god/mortal interaction. I'll admit, I always end up doing a fair bit of skimming. The emotional resonance and epic descriptions are still as strong as the Odyssey, it just doesn't have the same fluid narrative. And then there's the fact that hearing how hundreds of people die in excruciating detail over and over again might be a good lesson against glorifying war, but it's just depressing. Personally, Achilles is just less likable a character. The really enjoyable part of this book is the relations between the gods and the mortals and the question of the inevitability of Fate.more
Most people halfway conversant with Literature (with a capital L) are familiar with the basic story of The Iliad—but halfway conversant doesn't mean we've read it. As one of those people, I've always felt slightly guilty about my lack of firsthand exposure to this great poem, and so I welcomed the chance to listen to it on audiobook. At 18 hours (including the introduction), it was a bit of a commitment, though fascinating to think that I was experiencing the poem as its ancient audience did, with someone reciting it aloud. Though there are many battle scenes and speeches, the main event in the poem is the death of Patroclus and the ensuing combat between Hector and Achilles, culminating with the high emotion of Priam's humble but daring request for his son's body. The Iliad ends with Hector's funeral, before the Achaeans leave their fateful wooden horse for the downfall of Troy, and the characters stand forever poised on the edge of their fate. We know what's coming, of course, but they never reach it in this piece of the larger tale. I found the gods to be some of the most fascinating characters in the story. They are all deeply invested (for whatever reason) in the outcome of the battle, with some favoring the Trojans and others the Achaeans. It's astonishing to what lengths they are willing to go to get their desired result. Interestingly, when they appear to mortals they have to wear the form of a human; they can't show themselves as they are. (Presumably the humans couldn't handle it.) Many of the gods are in fierce competition with each other, and their motivations seem very human: jealousy, anger, annoyance, selfishness, self promotion, etc. They scheme endlessly and fight among themselves, cowed and controlled only by the overwhelming might of Zeus. Near the end of the poem their fighting actually turns into physical confrontation, as they begin punching each other in their anger. So we have deities who are hugely powerful and majestic, but who act just like flawed human beings. They just happen to have supernatural powers. It's an interesting framework. In some ways the human characters are just puppets in the hands of the gods. The gods can trip you up in a chariot race, fill your heart with either cowardice or battle lust, deceive you by taking the semblance of a trusted councilor, cow you into obedience with threats, pull you out of battle to heal your wounds, snap your bowstring at just the wrong moment, whisk you away from certain death in single combat (so you stay alive and your honor is not impugned, conveniently), and engage in any amount of manipulation, deception, and outright coercion to get what they want. And yet... with all this control the gods exercise (and the humans acknowledge), I still have to wonder who is really controlling whom. Why do the gods care so much what happens? Some of them even wonder about this themselves, talking about the fleeting lifespan of pathetic humanity and asking why they are investing so much energy in creatures so insignificant. And yet they continue to involve themselves in the decisive events of the times. Are they afraid of becoming irrelevant? Is their desire for worship so overweening? The Iliad really is about war; all life is a battle and even the best and bravest can die horribly in it. Death in a thousand forms is described for us—death by spear to the brain, by spear up through the buttock into the bladder, by a spear to the liver (with the liver falling out of the gaping wound), by a spear through the eyes, by arrows, by skulls cracking and brains exploding inside your helmet, by being hit by a rock, etc. The battles rage for most of the poem and we see every kind of pep talk a commander can give, every flavor of taunt an enemy can yell, every victory and every crushing defeat. Homer describes the joy of battle and its terrible sorrows. His impartiality has allowed the poem to be interpreted in many different ways over the centuries, with some considering the poem an anti-war diatribe, with others (famously Alexander the Great) viewing it as a celebration of the courage and heroism displayed in war. Everyone has a backstory. We'll be at a pivotal point, someone's making a speech that will decide the army's course of action, and he launches into a long tale about, say, his father's exploits or something similar. Once I got used to the device, I grew to like it; these backstories are like bonuses, little pockets of story that enrich the larger history. But they do take a little getting used to.I didn't like the introduction by Stephen Mitchell, or his translation. First off, Mitchell reads his own introduction, and a more insipid, effeminate, weak, monotone voice can't be imagined. It seemed he was even boring himself. And it went on for two CDs! It didn't really tell me anything interesting, either. I should have just trusted my own English-major training and experienced the poem for myself, unhampered by Mitchell's extremely obvious observations. And his translation is distressingly dumbed down. The Iliad is supposed to be an epic... and Mitchell translates it to a fatuous modern parlance that almost makes the heroic content sound comical. In a letter, J. R. R. Tolkien once demonstrated how ludicrous it is to express heroic sentiments in modern slang and clichés, rewriting Théoden's archaically flavored speech about his desire to die on the battlefield to frame it in modern terms. The example is actually quite funny, and vividly demonstrates that heroic sentiments cannot be put in modern terms; we may have the vocabulary, but our words just aren't wired for it. And the astute reader senses the disconnect at once. Mitchell's modern take on the legend is disappointing, and I'm all out of patience with the back cover blurbs that claim he has "given fresh energy and poetic force" to the work. Not so much. Render it with an eye to the poetry and the distance of it, and you'll do better.Alfred Molina does the best he can with Mitchell's weak rendition of the poem, and reads it more like prose than poetry (which is probably a good choice). It was such a relief to hear his rich voice after the nasally tones of Mitchell.Though this version of the epic is not something I would recommend, I'm glad to have listened to it and gained firsthand exposure to its characters and themes. I'm sure that in the right hands the translation would lend power and grace to this perennially influential work, but I was able to enjoy it, even as it was. I would have rated it more highly had the translation been better. Eventually I'll probably look into a different translation; I've heard good things about the translations of Alexander Pope and E. V. Rieu. Any other recommendations are welcome!Thank you to Audiobook Jukebox and Simon & Schuster Audio for the opportunity to review this audiobook.more
I decided not to finish reading this. There were parts I was thoroughly caught up in and loving, but then they were followed by sections with the gods interfering and being a nuisance. The human drama and description of battle was terrific, but the gods ruined everything the humans were about to achieve. I don't have the patience to work through it at this time of my life, and so decided I would move on.more
I love The Illiad only a little bit less than The Odyssey, the other epic poem attributed to Homer. Together the two works are considered among the oldest surviving works of Western literature, dating to probably the eighth century BCE, and are certainly among the most influential. The Illiad deals with just a few weeks in the last year of the decade-long Trojan War. As the opening lines state, it deals with how the quarrel between the Greek's great hero Achilles and their leader Agamemnon "caused the Akhaians loss on bitter loss and crowded brave souls into the undergloom."So, essentially, this is a war story. One close to three thousand years old with a mindset very alien to ours. One where unending glory was seen as a great good over personal survival or family. One where all felt that their ends were fated. And one with curiously human, or at least petty, gods. Some see the work as jingoistic, even pro-war, and I suppose it can be read that way, but what struck me was the compassion with which Homer wrote of both sides. We certainly care for the Trojan Hector as much as or more (in my case much more) than for the sulky and explosive Achilles. For the Trojan King Priam as much or more (in my case much more) than King Agamemnon. Homer certainly doesn't obscure the pity, the waste, and the grief war brings. And there are plenty of scenes in the work that I found unforgettable: The humorous scene where Aphrodite is wounded and driven from the field. The moving scene between Hector and his wife and child. The grief Helen feels in losing a friend. The confrontation between Priam and Achilles.This is one work where translations make a huge difference. Keats poem "On Chapman's Homer" is all about how a translation opened his eyes to "realms of gold" in The Illiad he had not appreciated before. I was forced to read Homer in high school (I suspect the Lattimore translation) and hated it as boring and tedious. Maturity might have helped change how I felt on reread--but I had my own "Keats Experience" when I discovered Robert Fitzgerald's translation. I've never read the Fagles translation some reviewers are recommending, but you might want to look up various translations to see which one speaks to you before embarking on a full read.more
I read this -at last- some months ago. I was a bit disappointed; I think the battle scenes, which appeal so much to many male readers, tend to leave the women readers cold, though, as a one time champion Sportsfighter, I was once a bit attracted to the adrenalin rush of battle myself. Still, I found these gruesome without being riveting.I felt for many of the characters and for Achilles, a demi god and isolated in the human world, but so alien is the culture, so oppressed the women that I couldn't really get absorbed by the story.more
Three things about The Iliad. 1. There are quite a few metaphors about lions, who either kill cattle or sheep or are hunted in turn. 3,000 years ago Greece was overrun with lions.2. It's interesting that one of the first long narratives in human has no suspense. The sack of Troy is a foregone conclusion. Even Achilles knows his fate. 3. I read Fagles' translation. I love it, but I think Fitzgerald is slightly better at conveying the strangeness of this world even if that does lead him astray sometimes.more
A Classic ancient poem, filled with action, love, violence and war.more
Set in Ancient Greece, The Iliad is an epic poem about a decade-long war. The book starts when the Trojans and Achaeans have already been at war for years. The war itself begins because Paris (a Trojan), steals Helen, the wife of Menelaus (an Achaean). This gives the Achaeans an excuse to load up their ships and head to Troy to attack them. Helen is the woman behind the infamous “face that launched a thousand ships.” ***SPOILERS*** Paris’ brother Hector is a great warrior, unlike Paris, and because of this he leads the Trojan side of the battle. The Achaeans’ greatest warrior is Achilles, but a falling out with Agamemnon (Menelaus’ brother, leader of the Greeks) over spoils of war causes Achilles to refuse to fight. It’s not until Hector kills his close friend, Patroclus, that Achilles rejoins the war to avenge his friend’s death. Confused yet? It’s pretty straight forward while you’re reading it, but it sounds convoluted when you try to summarize it. It’s considered the greatest war story ever told and so obviously there are a lot of battle scenes. I really liked the moral dilemmas, but after awhile the battles seemed repetitive. I loved The Odyssey, (Homer’s book that followed one of the warriors on his journey home after the Trojan War), so much because it’s one man’s journey and every aspect of his adventure is new and unexpected. With the Iliad, Homer has to convey the exhaustion the men feel after fighting the same battle for years. The fatigue was contagious and I felt it about half way through the book. Things pick up towards the end because big players are dying and you know it’s all coming to a head. The plot is frustrating at times, because the meddlesome gods cause more problems than they solve. They’re petty and territorial and they choose humans that they want to champion and they don’t care who is hurt along the way. It also seems to remove the element of free choice in the warriors; lives. They can choose to do something, but the gods will just prevent it from happening if they want to. After Hector is killed there is a brief mention of Helen's loneliness. She was taken from her home and is treated horribly by most people in Troy because they see her as the reason for the war. Hector was always kind to her and she realizes that none of her only friends is now dead and the loneliness is overwhelming. Even though this is a tiny part, it was really poignant to me. She’s always painted as a guilty party in this legend, leaving her husband for another man, causing a war, etc. I never thought about how terrible her life must have been. I couldn't believe that the infamous Trojan Horse makes no appearance in The Iliad. It's my own fault for assuming it was part of the book, but I kept waiting for that part ... and then it ended. Apparently the Trojan Horse in mentioned in The Odyssey, which I remember, and then the full story is found in The Aeneid by Virgil. One of my favorite scenes in the book is the exchange between Priam and Achilles. Priam (Hector’s father) goes to talk to Achilles after his son is killed. He begs Achilles to let him have Hector’s body. The beauty of this scene is that it strips away ten-years of war and reduces the powerful Priam and Achilles to two grieving men. They aren’t on opposite ends of an epic battle; they’re just heartbroken individuals lamenting the cost of war. ***SPOILERS OVER*** In the end, The Iliad is a must read, not because it’s the best book ever, but because it’s a cornerstone of literature. It has provided the basis and inspiration for countless war stories in the centuries since its creation. It’s one of the oldest and most well-known stories in existence and that’s not something anyone should miss. But I would recommend The Odyssey over The Iliad if you’re only going to read one, even though that story comes after this one in chronological order.  more
This translation is slow going and a bit awkward for reading pleasure. (See my review of Lombardo's translation for that purpose) But, if you want to know exactly what the Greek says, but you don't know any Greek (a tragedy, but I realize there are lots of people who suffer from this!), then this is the translation to use. Because my Greek is a bit rusty and slow going these days, I often use it to check passages quickly and see where I want to spend time in the Greek.more
After reading W. H. D. Rouse's delightful prose translation of Homer's Odyssey, I was excited to pick up his translation of the Iliad. Having never read this classic before, I was expecting something similar to the Odyssey, which of course I did not get! Instead I read an incredibly bloody account of the Trojan War. The story line was very addicting; indeed, I kept waiting and waiting for Achilles to make peace with Agamemnon and get into the fighting. I was impressed with the true manliness and might of Hector. My heart grew heavy reading the account of Patrocles' death. I even felt for poor Hector's dad when he, an old man, had to risk his own life to claim the body of his slain son. I also appreciated the strong emphasis on the importance of morals and ethics, even on the battlefield (and even if they don't quite match my own). In today's American society, where for so many people the idea of ethical behavior or objective morals is foreign, it was refreshing to see men willing to die for their beliefs in an honorable way. Indeed, I kept getting the distinct impression that this story was crafted, in part, to teach young Greek boys how to be upstanding men in their culture. (Perhaps someone with more of a background in Homer than I have can confirm or deny this thought.)All in all, this was a compelling, instructive, manly, bloody, and difficult read. I'm glad I read it, and I can see why it has endured throughout the millennia. Like many classics, I think it will take me several more readings and a lot of contemplation, though, to really understand all that is going on in this story; and in so doing, I have no doubt that it will help me to understand myself better, as well.more
This is of course one of the great very early icons of western literature. This translation is clearly a good one and brings across the action well. There are some great set pieces which impress when read individually. However, the problem, which has made me stop reading a little over half way through, is that it is very, very repetitive. Battle scenes and death throes are described in very similar ways. I realise that this is probably part of the oral tradition from which the epic descends. However, it does not make for good reading. I have to say - and this goes against the usual grain for me - that this probably is one where there is a case for reading choice extracts and a summary of the whole plot to get at the essence of this classic work of literature.more
Though there are many translations of Homer's epic 'Iliad', the Richmond Lattimore translation is by far the best I have read. I say this for several reasons. First and foremost, this is not a prose translation, this is a full translation kept in the original verse form. I have read prose translations of Homer and they simply do not do Homer's language justice. I was first exposed to this translation in college, and I could not put it down. Besides conveying the majesty of the characters, the rhythm and beauty of Homer's language is something to be admired, and this is probably the closest one can get to experiencing it in the ancient Greek. As with all classics, Homer's characters are dated to their historical period, yet their trials and emotional journeys are readily identified by a modern audience. This is high tragedy without compare, as Homer portrays flawed men who walk like gods, heroes who are filled with doubts for all their bravado, and at their center, the mighty Achilles, who embodies the best and worst of men, yet in private, when all things might point to his succombing to his pride, he shows his best when dealing with Priam for the body of fallen Hector. Yes, there are many battle scenes, and they can be brutal in their description. This is a story of war, after all, but the savagery employed on the battlefield serves its place in contrast to the more noble actions of the lead heroes. Furthermore, unlike every movie I've seen about the Trojan War, Homer does not try to equivocate the war in terms of economy, empire, and diluting matters through our very different modern morality. This is not to say Homer's world is morally simplistic, on the contrary, there is more than a fair share of debate among the heroes as to why they should continue the war, and questions as to its motivation. But all this aside, if nothing else, this is a fantastic epic, and once read, it is no mystery why it has endured to this day.more
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