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The Iliad Paperback – August 21, 2010
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Original Language: Greek --This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition.
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"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
"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
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."
-Translated by Stanley Lombardo
"Anger be now your song, immortal one,
Akhilleus' anger, doomed and ruinous,
that caused the Akhaians loss on bitter loss
and crowded brave souls into the undergloom,
leaving so many dead men--carrion
for dogs and birds; and the will of Zeus was done.
Begin it when the two men first contending
broke with one another--
the Lord Marshal Agamémnon, Atreus' son, and Prince Akhilleus."
-Translated by Translated by Robert Fitzgerald
Our story takes place in the ninth year of the ongoing war. We get some introduction to the first nine years but they are just a background to this tale of pride, sorrow and revenge. The story will also end abruptly before the end of the war.
We have the wide conflict between the Trojans and Achaeans over a matter of pride; the gods get to take sides and many times direct spears and shields.
Although the more focused conflict is the power struggle between two different types of power. That of Achilles, son of Peleus and the greatest individual warier and that of Agamemnon, lord of men, who's power comes form position.
We are treated to a blow by blow inside story as to what each is thinking and an unvarnished description of the perils of war.
Troy - The Director's Cut [Blu-ray]
Though this is a wonderful story, and this is an inexpensive edition, I was disappointed in the way it was presented. Instead of being written in verse, like it was meant to be, it is typed in prose form, which loses the rhythm and even some of the interest. Also, the translator chose to use the Roman names of the gods, which some people prefer, but in this story particularly I much prefer the Greek names, which are more familiar (and it was a Greek war, after all.) If you are just reading this book because you have to, this edition will do just as well as any other. But if you really want to enjoy the story, look for one written in verse form with the Greek names.
It was instead written in about 800 BCE and is *the* cornerstone of Western literature. Homer was for the Greeks what the Bible was for the Hebrews: The poems gave the loose Greek tribes a common identity in a semi-mythical history. Homer, in a way, gave *birth* to Greece, and Greece contributed significantly to the birth of Western culture.
For this reason alone, anyone who lives in or identifies with the West should read "The Iliad." We wouldn't be here without it.
Now as far as modern taste and entertainment value goes, "The Iliad" might conceivably be disappointing. It tells the war at Troy with its principle heroes Achilles and Hector, but the story ends anti-climactically with the burial of Hector. The Trojan Horse is not mentioned in it, nor is the city conquered.
For the retrospective account of the Trojan Horse and the fall of Troy, one has to turn to "The Odyssey" - which is a more engrossing tale than "The Iliad" in terms of human interest, fantasy, and a satisfying ending.
Now to this particular translation, made by English novelist Samuel Butler in 1898. I found it very clear and straightforward, but one has to realize that it turns Homer's poetry into prose, thereby losing much of its beauty. Furthermore, Butler uses the Roman names for the gods and other characters (e.g., Jove instead of Zeus), which I found unfortunate.
For a prose translation that uses the Greek names, I recommend the one by W.H.D. Rouse (The Iliad (Signet Classics)). The advantage of the Butler translation, however, is that it is in the public domain, which means that you can get it as an e-text on the internet and also as a free audio book at [...]
Those who would like to appreciate "The Iliad" as poetry, may turn to the translation by George Chapman (The Odyssey (Wordsworth Classics)), though that one is quite a bit harder to understand than Butler's prose.
Overall, the Butler translation is a good deal. If you are not sure, sample the text online first or listen to the free audio.