on July 18, 2004
This book is a precise and concise beautiful introduction to the poetry, the text, the philological issues, the history and the 'Homer-question' of the Illiad and the Odyssey. By 'concise' I mean up to the point that satisfies a non-specialist reader without burdening too much details. This book serves the purposes of a specialist reader and an outsider as well with good bibliography. However the philological problem may not have been introduced at the beginning, on the contrary the section on "Readers' Homer" may have been the choice for the first section. However that may be the author's choice as he is an experienced professor. The classroom experience must have been the reason for this. I myself has been on the look for just this type of introduction on Homer.
on January 5, 2007
Powell is a leading Homer scholar and this is simply the best single book to read alongside the Iliad and Odyssey and attain a round sense of the Homeric poems, Homeric scholarship, and the socio-historical milieu that produced them. It is appropriate for undergraduates and I assign it in my courses on Homer.
on February 18, 2012
I've taught the Iliad a number of times, and Powell's is easily the most readable, concise, and informative introduction to Homer that I've come across.
Powell knows what's important to a basic understanding of how the Iliad and Odyssey were created, why we think so, what Homer can tell us about history (mainly that of his own time), and why many modern readers find the two poems tough sledding (Homer actively avoids suspense, for example). Powell gets right to the point every time.
He also summarizes both epics in ways that make the sometimes elusive themes stand out clearly. Anyone reading either poem will benefit immensely from this book.
In fact, if you've *never* read Homer, you might want to read Powell's "Homer" just because it's likely to whet your appetite for both the Iliad and the Odyssey. (May I recommend Robert Fitzgerald's translations? Or, if you prefer prose, Martin Hammond's Iliad,. And Ian Johnston's verse rendering of the Iliad, with notes, is downloadable online for nothing! Thanks Ian!)
on September 14, 2011
I found this book via Google Books. This is the first time I've ever ordered a book by going that route, but in this case, it seemed very well worth owning. Just the preface and the first several pages of "Part I: Background" made the book useful to me for some research I'm doing on Vico, who claimed in the 18th century that writing came into existence at the same time as speech, as evidenced by Homer. This book pretty effectively disputes that notion.
I'm giving the book a five-star rating based on the amount of text I've read so far. I may update later, but it has already proved itself incredibly useful.