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Iliad Paperback – June 1, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0872203525 ISBN-10: 0872203522 Edition: New Ed

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 516 pages
  • Publisher: Hackett Publishing; New Ed edition (June 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0872203522
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872203525
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.5 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (512 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,831 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

So great is the impact of ancient Greek literature on Western culture that even people who have never read Homer's Iliad or The Odyssey know a lot about them. The Trojan Horse, Achilles' heel, the Sirens' call, Scylla and Charybdis--all have entered popular mythology, becoming metaphors for the less heroic situations we face in our own lives. Ever since these oral poems were committed to paper (probably in the 8th century B.C.E.), people have been translating them. The version of Iliad translated by Stanley Lombardo is a brave departure from previous translations; Lombardo attempts to adapt the text to the needs of readers rather than the listeners for whom the work was originally intended. To this end, he has streamlined the poem, removing many of the stock repetitions such as the infamous "rosy-fingered dawn," or rewriting them in ways dependent on their context. What emerges is a vivid, lively rendition of one of the world's great stories of men and war.

But classicists, beware: This Iliad has something of a '90s sensibility, from the cover art (a photograph of the D-Day Normandy landing) to Achilles' Rambo-like diction. It might well outrage the purists, but for those who remember their musty high-school reading of Homer's great epic with a barely suppressed yawn, Lombardo's energetic translation is just the version to change their minds. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

More than almost any other book, Homer's Iliad is meant to be spoken aloud, so it's a natural fit for audiobooks. With his fluid translation of ancient Greek into the rhythms of contemporary conversation, Lombardo has rendered the story of the final stretch of the Trojan War and its plethora of jealous, vengeful gods and warriors feasting, battling and endlessly speechifying, more boldly modern and recognizable than the remote marble tableaux conjured by most other versions. Lombardo's expert reading makes the tale's convolutions easy to follow despite its length, and though he doesn't always reach for the extremes one might expect (Achilles' crashing rage sometimes sounds like mere irritation, and soldiers faced with certain death can seem less than petrified), his voice does become mesmerizing. The interruptions between books, in which Sarandon reads synopses of the next, are jarring and unnecessary, since the synopses are printed in a handy booklet, along with a useful map and list of names and places. Similarly, while the thrumming cello and percussion theme that opens and closes each book sets the tone nicely, the electronic chords that sometimes accompany dreams, deaths or appearances of the gods are rather off-putting. Such quibbles notwithstanding, Lombardo's Iliad both sings to 21st century ears and holds true to Homer's original vision; the blind bard would be proud. Lombardo has also translated and narrated Homer's Odyssey for Parmenides.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

The character development in the story really helps you get attached and the action scenes keep you on the edge of your seat.
T Swift-Footed
For high schoolers, though, I would recommend reading one of the other translators first, as the first time one reads Homer, it should be for the story.
oh_pete
I have read several versions of the Iliad (both poetic and prose) and this version translated by Robert Fagles is the best I've read.
T. Lundregan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

320 of 346 people found the following review helpful By Esquire on June 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
I won't try to give yet another summary of the Iliad's plot nor give my insignificant opinion on the importance of Homer to Western Culture. More important is to discuss this translation and the translation of Homer in general.
When it comes to classic works of poetry in translation, such as those of Homer, Vergil, Dante and others, the translation makes all the difference. The type of translation, whether in rhyming verse, blank verse, prose etc., whether it is a strict line by line or more liberal translation, whether the wording and idioms are old fashioned or modern, can play such a great role that one translation may be completely different than another. This fact is probably often overlooked and attributes to the neglect of these classics, since a bad or difficult translation makes the poem seem tedious or dull.
Since Chapman's first translation of Homer into English in 1611 there have been dozens of others. Chapman's translation remains a classic, though its heavy and elaborate rhyming Elizabethan style and old wording make it quite laborious to read today. The next great translation was that of the renowned Enlightenment poet Alexander Pope; his Iliad was published progressively between 1715 and 1720. Pope's translation is in rhyming verse with his heroic couplet and is eminently poetic. It is considered the greatest translation of Homer into English (Dr. Johnson called it "the noblest version of poetry which the world has ever seen") but it is not as plain and straightforward as Homer apparently is in the original. It is mostly for this reason that Pope's translation has been critized as being more the work of the poet Pope than the poet Homer.
Of the more recent verse translations a few are worth recommendation.
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94 of 100 people found the following review helpful By CranstonShenir on June 14, 2007
Format: Audio CD
The Iliad was meant to be heard rather than read. It's a cliche, but it's true. So an audio version of the Iliad can be a great thing; rather than just a secondary version of a published book, it can be in some ways a purer representation of the original work. This recording is an (abridged) reading by Derek Jacobi of Robert Fagles's best-selling 1990 translation. I'll deal with three different aspects of this product separately: the translation, the performance, and the abridgement.

THE TRANSLATION (5 stars):

Judging a translation is a hard thing to do, and a lot of it comes down to personal aesthetic preference. Remember, all translations are paraphrase, and each can capture different facets of an original but none can capture all of it. This is particularly true of poetry, where much of the artistic content of the original is not only in the meaning of the words, but the sound, shape, and rhythm of the words themselves in the original language. What many translations of the Iliad lose, regardless of their literal accuracy, is the feel of Homer's verse - its directness, the concreteness of its language, and above all the headlong momentum of the whole thing. Homer's hexameter verse is propulsive, pulling the hearer (note: not the reader) forward with an unstoppable 15,000-line drumbeat that leaves you breathless. (Well, it leaves me breathless, anyway -- your mileage may vary.) Fagles captures this feeling magnificently in direct, confident, robust English. True, Fagles is not always literally accurate in the translation of specific words or epithets, but he expertly recreates the vigor of the piece. Richmond Lattimore's excellent translation (
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152 of 165 people found the following review helpful By Michael Wells Glueck on June 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
Robert Fagles's translation of Homer's Iliad is spiritually if not literally true to the original. Both versions repeat set speeches and descriptions in precisely the same words, and the translation exhibits a fairly regular rhythmic beat. But Homer's Greek was chanted, and the set passages were like refrains in which listeners could, if they chose, join in as a chorus. In English, the repetitions sometimes become tedious, especially when the same speech is given three times in two pages, as in the relay of Zeus's orders in Book II. Especially noteworthy is Bernard Knox's long and fascinating Introduction, a masterpiece of literary criticism and scholarship which conveys Homer's grim attitude toward war, the interplay of divine and human will, and the ancient concepts of honor, courage, and virility in the face of the stark finality of death. Knox also includes a succinct explanation of the quantitative, rather than accentual, basis of Greek (and Latin) verse. For easy readability, Fagles's translation is without rival. For elegance and poetry, however, I recommend Richmond Lattimore's older but still gripping and fluent translation.
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101 of 108 people found the following review helpful By Gerald L. Trett on June 10, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am a retired high school and college instructor who taught the Iliad many times at both levels. The Rouse version was always my translation of choice, and it was enormously successful. The complaints (or halfhearted commendations here) miss the point. Most seem to think that Rouse's "plain English" version is a diminution of the original. All translations are! Rouse merely eliminated many epithets and repetitions (necessary in the meter of the poem and unnecessary in prose). But Rouse is extremely accurate within his chosen limits and the result is a brilliant achievement: a fast-moving text (as is the original) that is colloquial where appropriate, noble sithout being stuffy when nobility is called for; the result is an always ongoing, rapidly moving narrative told in vivid, sinewy prose that simply hurtles you along. It does not attempt to give the more complex reading experience that Fitzgerald and Lattimore and Fagles achieve in their superb verse translations; but these are best reserved for second . . .or 17th readings, once the complex story and relations between characters are mastered. And indeed, none of the more famous verse translations (Pope's is to be avoided: it's a beautiful Augustan poem, not Homer)--none come close to Rouse's focused and frightening rendering of Achilles' on the battlefield, once he goes into action. In short, Rouse is in spirit thoroughly "Homeric"--by turns racy and funny, savage, noble, ultimately tragic as, e.g., the dreadful Victorian versions of Butler and Lang, Leaf, & Myers are not and should be avoided). Even with the small point-size in which the text was set, Rouse's Homer is not just a bargain: it's a treasure bought at a small price.
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