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The Iliad Mass Market Paperback – October 2, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0451530691 ISBN-10: 0451530691 Edition: Reissue

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Signet Classics; Reissue edition (October 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451530691
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451530691
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 1.1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (532 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"This is the translation to read first, if you have never read The Iliad."

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. Both works attributed to Homer – the Iliad and the Odyssey – are over ten thousand lines long in the original. Homer must have had an amazing memory but was helped by the formulaic poetry style of the time.

In the Iliad Homer sang of death and glory, of a few days in the struggle between the Greeks and the Trojans. Mortal men played out their fate under the gaze of the gods. The Odyssey is the original collection of tall traveller’s tales. Odysseus, on his way home from the Trojan War, encounters all kinds of marvels from one-eyed giants to witches and beautiful temptresses. His adventures are many and memorable before he gets back to Ithaca and his faithful wife Penelope.

We can never be certain that both these stories belonged to Homer. In fact ‘Homer’ may not be a real name but a kind of nickname meaning perhaps ‘the hostage’ or ‘the blind one’. Whatever the truth of their origin, the two stories, developed around three thousand years ago, may well still be read in three thousand years’ time.


W.H.D. Rouse was one of the great 20th century experts on Ancient Greece, and headmaster of the Perse School, Cambridge, England, for 26 years. Under his leadership the school became widely known for the successful teaching of Greek and Latin as spoken languages. He derived his knowledge of the Greeks not only from his wide studies of classical literature, but also by travelling extensively in Greece. He died in 1950.

Customer Reviews

This is a fresh easy to read version modern in its language but capturing anchient themes of Homer.
Ernest Boehm
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

348 of 378 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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101 of 107 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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97 of 103 people found the following review helpful By T. Bachman on October 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
Fortunately, Homer is so wonderful that even fairly imaginative renderings of the text, like Fagles', can't obscure his genius.

I guess I have a bit of a problem with Fagles' translation. When I read Homer, I want to read Homer, not Robert Fagles re-writing Homer. This version reminds me of the comment made to Alexander Pope after he published his version of "The Iliad" - "a pretty poem, Mr. Pope, but you must not call it Homer".

This translation is kind of a modern play on the Fitzgerald - something of an "artistic" version rendered into a kind of de rigeur semi-elliptical poetry-speak, relying on a reconfiguration of lines and sentences, replacement of Homer's own phrases, etc. If that's your bag, by all means get this.

But for me, the best translation out there is that which translates Homer as faithfully as possible consistent with comprehensible English. Fagles' cavalier handling of the source text eliminates this as the "best" translation for me.

Both the Loeb and Lattimore versions are very faithful, but I think some readers may find them fairly difficult, and then stop reading the book altogether, which would be a great shame since The Iliad is well worth reading even in the worst translation.

My two cents is that the translation out there which does the best job of combining fidelity to the original with readability is the Jones/Rieu put out by Penguin. It doesn't have the packaging of the Fagles nor the great essay by Bernard Knox in the front, but I think it does the best job at maintaining transparency, really letting Homer shine through. (But if you have the stomach for the Loeb, you could go hardcore and try that, too. But don't try this unless you're familiar with the entire story first...).
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