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The Iliad: (The Stephen Mitchell Translation) Hardcover – October 11, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1439163375 ISBN-10: 1439163375 Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; Reprint edition (October 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439163375
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439163375
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #297,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Stephen Mitchell’s magnificent new translation of the Iliad reminds us that there is always a new and different way to read and interpret the great classics, and that they need to be reinvigorated from generation to generation, just as we need to be reminded that they are, however venerated, above all stories: exciting, full of life and great characters, in short great entertainment, not just great monuments of culture or the Western canon. Mr. Mitchell has accomplished this difficult feat wonderfully well, and produced a book which is a joy to read and an Iliad for this generation.” —Michael Korda, D. Litt., author of Hero, Ike, and Ulysses S. Grant

“Stephen Mitchell has done a marvelous thing here: he has given fresh energy and poetic force to a work that perennially repays our attention. Without the Iliad the West would be a vastly poorer place; Homer’s achievement speaks to every successive generation with its unflinching understanding of the essential tragic nature of life. Mitchell’s translation is a grand accomplishment.”
-- Jon Meacham, author of American Lion

“Mitchell’s wonderful new version of the Iliad is a worthy addition to his list of distinguished renditions of the classics.” —Peter Matthiessen

“A sturdy, muscular, and nuanced translation that will surely bring many new readers to this great work.”—John Banville, author of The Sea

“Mitchell’s translation is a brilliant accomplishment. It captures the fierce energy, rhythms, and powerful narrative of Homer’s Greek in vivid and compelling English.” —Elaine Pagels, author of The Gnostic Gospels

“Mitchell’s five-beat line is a startlingly strong alternative to other translators’ attempts to capture the inimitably mellifluous flow of Homer’s Greek. Mitchell fits a meter to the poem, but also the poem to the meter, paring away words that could not work in English, aiming always to preserve the uncanny aesthetic distance and moral neutrality of the original at its full, thrilling, and horrifying depth. Read three pages, any three pages, and you’ll realize that, no, you are not yet done with Homer.” —Jack Miles, author of God: A Biography

”A strange, almost forgotten feeling overtook me as I first dipped into this new translation. I felt compelled to recite aloud! The poetry rocks and has a macho cast to it, like rap music. It’s overtly virile stuff, propelled from the time when music, language, information, and politics were not yet distinguished.” —Jaron Lanier, author of You Are Not a Gadget

About the Author

Stephen Mitchell is widely known for his ability to make old classics thrillingly new. His many books include the bestselling Tao Te Ching, the Iliad, GilgameshThe Gospel According to Jesus, The Book of Job, Bhagavad Gita, and The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke. His website is

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

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

112 of 122 people found the following review helpful By Christopher H. Hodgkin on November 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I love the Iliad. Over the past fifty years I have read it in many different translations. And there are many to choose from; a list of complete translations of the Iliad includes more than 70 versions. [...]

In college, I of course read Lattimore, which at the time was (and indeed still is) the gold standard for scholarship. A few years later, I re-read it in the translation of Pope, initially a struggle, but once I got into the flow of it and of his somewhat archaic language, around the middle of book 2, magnificent. I have read most of the major modern translations as they came out. Robert Fitzgerald (I really like this translation and chose it to reread for a book discussion group a few years ago). Ian Johnson (an online translation, good for content and to my ear much as I think the original singers would have sounded, who as we know didn't repeat the poem word-for-word from memory but built it each time from stock phrases and filling in the gaps as they went, but not as smooth poetically as some other translations). Lombardo (I read about four books and skimmed the rest, finding his translation jarringly modernized with contemporary language and references that in my view seriously degraded the nobility of the original). Fagles (much celebrated, and enjoyable enough but not in my view as true to the feel of Homer as Lattimore and Fitzgerald). I have dipped into various other translations as they were available on line or as I visited university libraries that had these more obscure translations: Chapman, of course, because of Keats; Butler; and various others.

With more than 70 translations of the Iliad available, do we really need another one? The answer is that this isn't really another Iliad as we know it.
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60 of 65 people found the following review helpful By stephen liem on November 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are 2 ways to comment on Stephen Mitchell's new translation of Homer's Iliad. One, is to comment on the technical aspect of his translation; and, two, is to comment on the readability of his translation in ordinary English language (by the way, this is one of the main points that Mitchel is making: that his translation is more contemporary and captures the current way that we use the English language).

First, on the technical aspect of the translation. I will not say too much here since I am not a Homeric scholar and I am sure that there are many other experts out there who will debate this point. Nevertheless, it will be useful to give a background on how Mitchel came about translating this. His translation is based on Martin L West's edition of Homer's Iliad. It should be noted that West's edition is controversial because he made a distinction between "original" text as written by the author of Iliad ("Homer"), and subsequent additions to that original text. West has stipped away all text that are not "original" by his own standard and criteria. As a result, the entire Book X, for example, has been banished, and so have many lines, and phrases that are deemed "additonal". As I mentioned before, Micthel's translation also left out those "additional" text that are not "original". I can imagine that scholars can and undoubtedbly will, debate what is "original", and what is "addition" for a very long time. (By the way, Daniel Mandelshon in The New Yorker magazine Nov 7 2011, has a review of this book that explains just how silly the definition of "original" versus "addition" can be. Highly recommended to read.)

Second, now, on to the readability of his translation.
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful By bernie HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover
With many books, translations are negligible, with two obvious exceptions, one is the Bible, and surprisingly the other is The Iliad. Each translation can give a different insight and feel to the story. Everyone will have a favorite. I have several.

For example:

"Rage--Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus' son Achilles,
Murderous, doomed, that cost the Achaeans countless losses,
hurling down to the House of Death so many souls,
great fighters' souls. But made their bodies carrion,
feasts for dogs and birds,
and the will of Zeus was moving towards its end.
Begin, Muse, when the two first broke and clashed,
Agamemnon lord of men and brilliant Achilles."
-Translated by Robert Fagles, 1990

"Sing, O Goddess, the anger of Achilles, son of Peleus, that brought countless ills upon the Achaeans. Many a brave soul did it send hurrying down to Hades, and many a heroes did it yield a prey to dogs and vultures for so were the counsels of Zeus fulfilled from the day on which the son of Atreus, king of men, and great Achilles first fell out with one another."
-Translated by Samuel Butler, 1888

Sing, Goddess, Achilles' rage,
Black and murderous, that cost the Greeks
Incalculable pain pitched countless souls
Of heroes into Hades' dark,
And let their bodies rot as feasts
For dogs and birds, as Zeus' will was done.
Begin with the clash between Agamemnon--
The Greek Warlord--and godlike Achilles.
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