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The Iliad (Penguin Classics) Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 1995

3.9 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

'In Robert Fagles' beautifully rendered text, the Iliad overwhelms us afresh. The huge themes--godlike, yet utterly human--of savagery and calculation, of destiny defied, of triumph and grief compel our own humanity. Time after time, one pauses and re-reads before continuing. Fagles' voice is always that of a poet and scholar of our own age as he conveys the power of Homer. Robert Fagles and Bernard Knox are to be congratulated and praised on this admirable work. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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. Both works attributed to Homer – the Iliad and the Odyssey – are over ten thousand lines long in the original. Homer must have had an amazing memory but was helped by the formulaic poetry style of the time.

In the Iliad Homer sang of death and glory, of a few days in the struggle between the Greeks and the Trojans. Mortal men played out their fate under the gaze of the gods. The Odyssey is the original collection of tall traveller’s tales. Odysseus, on his way home from the Trojan War, encounters all kinds of marvels from one-eyed giants to witches and beautiful temptresses. His adventures are many and memorable before he gets back to Ithaca and his faithful wife Penelope.

We can never be certain that both these stories belonged to Homer. In fact ‘Homer’ may not be a real name but a kind of nickname meaning perhaps ‘the hostage’ or ‘the blind one’. Whatever the truth of their origin, the two stories, developed around three thousand years ago, may well still be read in three thousand years’ time.


E. V. Rieu was a celebrated translator from Latin and Greek, and editor of Penguin Classics from 1944-1964. His son, D. C. H. Rieu has revised his work.


E. V. Rieu was a celebrated translator from Latin and Greek, and editor of Penguin Classics from 1944-1964. His son, D. C. H. Rieu has revised his work.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (July 30, 1950)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140440143
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140440140
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,295,805 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on March 14, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I long ago determined that the world of those interested in the Classical Literature of the Ancient Greeks that when it comes to Homer's epic poems there are those who prefer the "Iliad" and those who prefer the "Odyssey." My choice is for the story of the rage of Achilles. From Achilles's fateful confrontation with Agamemnon over Briseis of the lovely arms to the magnificently emotional ending where King Priam comes to beg for the body of his slain son, Hector, from the man who killed him, I find this story has greater resonance than the tale of Odysseus. The epic story also seems to me to be more classically Greek, with the great hero who acts out of anger, comes to regret his folly, and seeks to make amends with a great deed. Achilles is similar to Hercules in this regard, and although they are both strictly considered demi-gods, the Achaean hero ultimately seems more human. Plus, Achilles stature is enhanced by his opposition to the noble Hector; acknowledging the better warrior does not take away from recognizing the greater hero. Add to this the fact that all the gods and goddesses of Olympus are actively involved in the proceedings and I am convinced the "Iliad" is the more worthy book for inclusion into most classes dealing with Classical Mythology or the Ancient Greeks.
The main question with using the "Iliad" is class is picking a worthy version in English. The Lattimore translation is certainly above average, but I think the Fagles translation is far and away the best available (hence the one star deduction for this translation, which I have been compelled to use in the past) and I would not really consider using anything else in my Classical Greek and Roman Mythology course.
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Comment 33 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
I went into the Illiad, reading it because I thought that I was expected to. The Illiad is the sort of reading that is expected of a well rounded and enlightened individual. However, instead of a dusty tome, I found a vibrant, lively book, full of rage and sorrow, brimming historical accounts laced with godly intervention. The most amazing aspect, apart from the grim battle scenes (and they are unflinchingly gory), is the depth to which Homer explores each of the major characters. There are no bad guys or good guys, each man portrayed is multi-faceted with dark and light qualities. Achilles' the supposed hero is vain, vengeful and spiteful, the villian Hector is seen a reluctant defender who mourns his wife and child even before his death. And Paris the center of it all, a pathetic selfish man, who possesses an unearthly charisma. This novel is amazing and astounding in that it not only tells a great story, but that it asks the eternal questions of mankind, about fate, bravery and a life well lived. The Illiad is the starting point of the Odyssey and the Aeneid both classics of epic poetry and the Illiad is also ripe with Greek Mythology. I cannot more highly recommend a book than this one.
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Format: Paperback
I dunno about other people reading this but it was a struggle. The book itself is a deserved world classic which relates the story of the siege of Troy. However, most people associate that battle with the wooden horse incident so be aware that the book does not cover that period! It ends before it. The incident is referred to in Homer's Odyssey and fully told in Virgil's Aenid.
The story itself is one of powerful archtypes in the characters of Achilles, Agamemnon, Hector, Priam etc. The war itself is supplemented by the gods taking part and the premises of this epic poem are psychological, philosophical as well as the kick-butt action scenes.
However, I found this translation quite bad. The text is very dense. I know the original is dense as well - but at least the Greek has poetry. When a classic is translated, much of the poetic beauty is lost so as a result, it should at least be made readable. But this one isn't. The text is set out as prose but with very long paragraphs. The language is archaic - one can't follow an already complex piece of text with "spake" occuring every second. Also, at least in my copy, there were heaps of mistakes. I mean books have typos but in the bad parts a page might have 6 or 7 which is bound to get annoying.
So definitely read the Iliad but look for a better translation.
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Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star'd at the Pacific -- and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise --
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
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A question ritually asked in literary circles is, "Which do you like better, The ILLIAD or The ODYSSEY?" Without hesitation, my response is The Illiad. Brimming with war, revenge, hatred, love, and beautifully translated prose, the Wordsworth Classics' version offers a first time reader or a scholarly sage a definitive copy for their collection. Homer's work has been spoken of for more than two milleniums and the Trojan/Greek war is recounted with such power and engagement, it still remains a heavily cited and easily reurnable story. Hours of enjoyment and antiquated adventure await.
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