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The Iliad (Penguin Classics) [Kindle Edition]

Homer , Bernard Knox , Robert Fagles
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (542 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

The great war epic of Western literature, in a stunning translation by acclaimed classicist Robert Fagles

Dating to the ninth century B.C., Homer’s timeless poem still vividly conveys the horror and heroism of men and gods wrestling with towering emotions and battling amidst devastation and destruction, as it moves inexorably to the wrenching, tragic conclusion of the Trojan War. Renowned classicist Bernard Knox observes in his superb introduction that although the violence of the Iliad is grim and relentless, it coexists with both images of civilized life and a poignant yearning for peace.

Combining the skills of a poet and scholar, Robert Fagles brings the energy of contemporary language to this enduring heroic epic. He maintains the drive and metric music of Homer’s poetry, and evokes the impact and nuance of the Iliad’s mesmerizing repeated phrases in what Peter Levi calls “an astonishing performance.”

For more than sixty-five years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,500 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.


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.

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.

Product Details


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
354 of 384 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Translation's the Key June 23, 2002
By Esquire
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Abridged, but Excellent - and great fun, too 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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154 of 167 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A readable Iliad in modern idiom 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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93 of 99 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Narration before Translation December 15, 2006
By Todd F.
Format:Audio CD
Upon reading reviews of various audiobooks, I find that most reviewers comment too much upon the translation and too little upon the narration. Translation choice is certainly important but I think you have to find a narrator who makes the story exciting. After having listened to both the narration by George Guidall of the Fitzgerald translation and Derek Jacobi's narration of Robert Fagles' translation, I would say I prefer the Jacobi recording. Although both men give good performances, I think that Derek Jacobi's reading is the better of the two because his tempo and inflection more closely mirror the pitch and pause of the narrative drama. Regardless of which translator you prefer, the narration should take precedence over the choice of translation. I actually prefer Fitzgerald to Fagles as a translator and I'm not crazy about an abridged version of The Iliad in the Derek Jacobi (Fagles) audiobook. But if you're going to listen to a few hours of Homer, you'd better like the voice in the ether. I don't think you could go wrong with either of these two narrations but I would advise you to find some audio samples to compare performances before you make your purchase.
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