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The Iliad Paperback – August 21, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Greek --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Homer is celebrated as the greatest of ancient Greek epic poets. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 156 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (August 21, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1453772944
  • ISBN-13: 978-1453772942
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.4 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,134,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Any rating of "The Iliad" has to be primarily a rating of the translation, not of the work as such. Obviously "The Iliad" does not measure up to 21st-century expectations of riveting fiction, but then again, it was not written in the 21st century and it would be silly to expect anything of the sort.

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.
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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.

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

"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

"Rage:
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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Format: Paperback
While the words "Iliad" usually conjure bad memories of High School English classes, this great epic of the end of the Trojan War survived all these years for a reason. Homer gets a bit redundant, with his word choice and with the material (it is mostly just a bunch of people dying, after all) but this is still a good example of the sweeping, bold storytelling of the ancient Greek poets. The Iliad mostly focuses on Achilles on the Achaeans' side and Hector on the Trojans' side. It begins with the argument between Achilles and Agamemnon, and ends with Hector's funeral.
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.
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Format: Kindle Edition
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

“Rage:
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.
Read more ›
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