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The Iliad Hardcover – October 1, 1990

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This groundbreaking English version by Robert Fagles is the most important recent translation of Homer's great epic poem. The verse translation has been hailed by scholars as the new standard, providing an Iliad that delights modern sensibility and aesthetic without sacrificing the grandeur and particular genius of Homer's own style and language. The Iliad is one of the two great epics of Homer, and is typically described as one of the greatest war stories of all time, but to say the Iliad is a war story does not begin to describe the emotional sweep of its action and characters: Achilles, Helen, Hector, and other heroes of Greek myth and history in the tenth and final year of the Greek siege of Troy. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

Why another Iliad? Just as Homer's work existed most fully in its performance, so the Homeric texts call periodically for new translations. With this in mind, Fagles offers a new verse rendering of the Iliad. Maneuvering between the literal and the literary, he tries with varying degrees of success to suggest the vigor and manner of the original while producing readable poetry in English. Thus, he avoids the anachronizing of Robert Fitzgerald's translation, while being more literal than Richard Lattimore's. Fagles's efforts are accompanied by a long and penetrating introduction by Bernard Knox, coupled with detailed glossary and textual notes.
- T.L. Cooksey, Armstrong State Coll., Savannah, Ga.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 683 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult (October 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670835102
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670835102
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (621 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,657 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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406 of 440 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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77 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Scott Chamberlain VINE VOICE on September 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
The Iliad is one of the greatest treasures of Western Civilization-and not just because a teacher told you it was. On the surface, it offers raw emotions, visceral action sequences and colorful characters you admire and hate, often at the same time. But it is much, much deeper than that. The scene where Hector bids his young wife good-bye and holds up his infant son to the gods, praying that the boy will one day be a better man than ever he himself was, has never been equaled as a statement of what it means to be a man, husband or father. The debates about honor and duty are still the same we face every day. The humanity, insight and profound philosophy are remarkable-especially for a work now 3,000 years old.

The problem? How do you convey all that power? How do you do so in a way that captures the feel of original?

Iliad translations have started to come fast and furious, as every ten years or so someone tries to tackle the monumental task of bringing the poem to modern readers. The process isn't helped by the fact that the text was already 300 years old to the classical Greeks like Aristotle, Sophocles and Euripides-making it as vaguely old-fashioned as Shakespeare is to us. Should it sound antiquated to us, too? If you really want a line by line translation, one that has some kind of meter that approaches the Greek original, the obvious choice is Lattimore's classic translation. It has the side benefit now of being somewhat dated in its English usage too. That said, for just a good ol' read of the Iliad, Lattimore isn't even my third choice. For all its accuracy, I've always felt I was reading a textbook, written by a classics scholar rather than an honest-to-goodness writer.
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123 of 133 people found the following review helpful By Graham Henderson on February 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
I think I must have read every major translation of the Iliad by now. They all have something to recommend them. There are some to which I will never return. I think I would rate Robert Fagles translation as the best. All of which will afford some context when I say that Lombardo is a must read. Enough glowing things have been said here by other reviewers, so I will refrain from commenting over much on the translation per se.
What I will say is this. I SAW Book I of Lombardo's translation enacted on the stage in New York about a year and a half ago. If EVER one needed a reminder that the first auditors of this tale were listeners and not readers and that the Iliad was composed first and foremost FOR listeners, actually seeing Book I brought to life was it. It was magnificent. I had read Lombardo in preparation for the play. I LOVED it -- the immediacy of it, the currency, the urgency, the sheer page turning pace into which he rendered the Iliad. But actually seeing it? It is something I shall never forget. The audience was actually laughing outloud at certain points -- and we forget, don't we, that there is much humour in the Iliad? That laughter brought a sense of community. And it was actually possible, closing your eyes, to imagine yourself transported back in time, listening to a retelling of the Iliad -- so very, very long ago.
Traditionalists will no doubt have MAJOR problems with Lombardo. I consider myself to be reasonably traditional, but I fairly EMBRACED this translation. But I can imagine many will, like my father, run with horror from lines like:
"Now get this straight. I swear a formal oath:
.......
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