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The Iliad 1st Edition

53 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199326105
ISBN-10: 019932610X
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The Iliad + The Odyssey + The Odyssey: (The Stephen Mitchell Translation)
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Editorial Reviews Review

A Look Inside: The Iliad [Click Images to Enlarge]

Seven Lines
First Seven Lines of the Iliad: This reconstruction is based on what we know about the earliest Greek orthography.

Walls of Troy
The Walls of Troy: The translator standing before the walls of the sixth city at Troy.

The Judgment of Paris: On the right a youthful Paris sits on a stone in a rural location. The sheep near his feet indicates that he is a shepherd. Athenian red-figure water jar, c. 450 BC.

The Rage of Achilles: The seated Agamemnon holds the scepter of authority and sits on a throne, his lower body wrapped in a robe. Athena seizes Achilles from behind by the hair. Roman mosaic from Pompeii, c. First Century AD.
The Wedding of Zeus and Hera: A half-naked Zeus, sitting on a rock, clasps the wrist of Hera. One of her breasts is exposed as Hera removes her head covering in a traditional gesture of submission. c. 540 BC
Hephaistos Prepares Arms for Achilles: The smithy-god, bearded and wearing a felt cap, sits in an elaborately draped hall on a platform holding a cloth with which he is polishing the finished shield. Between him and Thetis are the breastplate and the shinguards (the surface of the fresco is damaged here). From Pompeii, c. AD 60.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Following Stephen Mitchell’s superbly cadenced translation by a mere two years, Powell’s Iliad may not get the popular attention it deserves. That would be a great shame, for while Mitchell’s line is more singing, Powell’s very similar five-beat line is scarcely inferior. It, too, maintains the great forward momentum of Homer’s narration—it’s magnetically readable. But Powell puts explanatory notes at the pages’ feet rather than in an appendix like Mitchell, who probably doesn’t want to distract the reader from the narrative flow. Nevertheless, the footnotes’ greater accessibility is welcome. Whereas Mitchell’s introduction is primarily concerned with the qualities of the text, Powell’s longer one is much more historical, concerned with the evolution of writing; the nature of oral literature; Homer’s influence on Greek and Western history; the historical probabilities behind The Iliad; and what Homer’s portrayal of motivation and character—divine as well as human—reveals about a society creating literature out of oral traditions. Adding attractiveness as well as cultural supplementation, Powell also disperses more than 50 illustrations depicting moments in the poem, all drawn from Hellenic pottery and Roman frescoes. It’s tempting to think of Powell’s as a student’s and of Mitchell’s as a reader’s Iliad, but any library that can accommodate both really ought to. They’re both invaluable versions for the twenty-first century. --Ray Olson

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (October 25, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019932610X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199326105
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 1.6 x 6.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #630,345 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Homer was probably born around 725BC on the Coast of Asia Minor, now the coast of Turkey, but then really a part of Greece. Homer was the first Greek writer whose work survives.

He was one of a long line of bards, or poets, who worked in the oral tradition. Homer and other bards of the time could recite, or chant, long epic poems.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Thomas A. Holmes VINE VOICE on July 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Essentially, when reviewing translations, one has to acknowledge the credentials of the translator, trust that the translator works to express the best possible reading of the material, going beyond literal translation to consider the nuance, sound, and accessibility for the reader. At times, translators must recognize that a literal translation of idiom does not work, but respectable translations offer notes of explanation for these seeming variances from the original text. For most of us who are not studying the texts but reading them for pleasure, relying on the good faith of the translator helps us to center on the tale itself. Powell's translation of Homer's THE ILIAD, in that context, is a solid read. This text will be useful in the classroom, with its maps, its notes, its explanations--all the additional apparatus one would expect of a scholarly translation of an ancient text.

How does it work as a text for reading for pleasure? I can best illustrate the character of Powell's translation by placing it side-by-side with other notable translations. In the passages below, Hector offers his dying words to Achilles, who has just killed him.

Here is the Robert Fitzgerald translation (1974):

Then at the point of death Lord Hektor said:

"I see you now for what you are. No chance
to win you over. Iron in your breast
your heart is. Think a bit, though: this may be
a thing the gods in anger hold against you
on that day when Paris and Apollo
destroy you at the Gates, great as you are."

The Robert Fagles translation (1990) offers this version of the event:

At the point of death, Hector, his helmet flashing,
said, "I know you well--I see my fate before me.
Never a chance that I could win you over . . .
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Geoff Arnold VINE VOICE on October 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I first encountered The Iliad 50 years ago, in my Greek class at a very traditional English Grammar School. (Do they even teach Greek in school these days?) We learned to translate various (carefully-selected) passages in the original Greek, and to give these fragments some context we were also encouraged to read a parallel English-Greek edition. I don't remember whose translation it was, but I have a clear memory of the flowing poetry and excitement in the English version. I'm sure that it deviated quite significantly from the original, but it was thrilling.

This new edition is very careful, scrupulously documented, and uncompromisingly accurate. I enjoyed the academic discussion; what I missed was any real poetry. Maybe it was never there in the first place: maybe earlier translations imposed their own ideas of poetry, in the same way that Disney imposed its sensibility on so many classic children's stories. But I missed it.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Anonymouse on January 4, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Critiquing a new translation of a noted book is done on three levels. The first two are scholarly: the comparison of the translation with the original and the comparison of the new translation with those that have come before. The third is the aesthetic evaluation of the work itself. My knowledge of The Iliad is non-professional. I have been fascinated by myths and mythology since I was a child reading Bullfinch at my grandmother's house, so the chance to read a new translation of The Iliad is appealing. My reading, though, is from a lay perspective.

Powell's Introduction is wonderfully informative and worth reading if you ever come across the book. In it he discusses the oral tradition of the Greeks and how poetry worked, which is similar to the blues and folk music traditions of our era. Poets (and musicians) draw on mental libraries of set pieces to tailor the performance to the tastes of the audience. But while music historians can trace the evolution and repetition of forms, phrases, and motifs for hundreds of years, not much Greek poetry exists for scholarly analysis. Adhering to modern academic standards, Powell is clear about his knowledge gaps and the liberties he has taken when fashioning this translation. All very good.

I am a bit unhappy, though, about the text, although I'll say again, I am speaking as a reader, not a scholar. Powell, in choosing an updated idiom, has, in some cases, chosen awkward sentences, weak locutions and jarring words that made my reading experience less pleasant than I wanted it to be. Rather in the way that new editions of the Christian Bible or Book of Common Prayer sound rough compared to their well-known predecessors, Powell's translation sometimes seems too modern.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By John Kwok HALL OF FAME on July 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Scholars and readers alike should have plenty to rejoice in Barry B. Powell's translation of Homer's "The Iliad" as one of the most thoughtful - and accessible - translations ever printed. Powell's new edition is invaluable as a work of scholarship in which Powell not only traces the history of prior translations and scholarship into Homer's identity, but makes the startling claim that the Greek alphabet - which has become the one used throughout the Western world and elsewhere - was developed in part to allow someone to write down Homer's great poem. Powell makes a very persuasive case that Homer was indeed a real person, living sometime in the 8th Century BC, as the Greeks began emerging from their Dark Age following the collapse of Mycenaean Greek civilization; the civilization during which the Trojan War did occur.

Powell tries to adhere as close as possible to the original Greek poetic language, often substituting Greek names for people and places that are better known through the Latinized versions, though the major characters like Agamemnon, Achilles, Hector, Paris, Helen, etc. retain the spellings that have been used consistently in published translations for centuries. But he does so while rendering Homer in an astonishingly fresh and accessible style that should win ample new fans for Homer's great poetic epic, emphasizing the lyrical, almost cantible-like, quality of Homer's poetry.

An example of this can be found in Book 13, Lines 93 - 130 which ends with this passage:

" Thus did the earth-holder rouse up the Achaeans with his
Exhortations. The powerful battalions rallied around the two Ajaxes,
so mighty that even Ares would not have found fault if he went
among them, nor Athena who drives on the army.
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