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on May 23, 2015
Before I begin, a disclaimer. This review is not written to help you decide whether to read the Iliad. It is to help you decide which translation of the Iliad to choose. In short: In 2015, this is the best translation to get. Get it in paper, not Kindle.

Peter Green states in the introduction that he is following in the footsteps of Lattimore, to preserve as much of the poem in Greek--wording, sentence structure, meter, and so on--in English, but to also make it declaimable. It is a translation to be read aloud. Thus, it is also a challenge to Fagles's translation, among whose virtues is how well it works as an audiobook.

To review, there are several major verse modern translations of the Iliad. Lattimore's is closest to the original Greek, and for undergraduate work can substitute for the original well enough. There is the Fagles translation, in modern free verse, is wonderful to read aloud. The Fagles Odyssey was on Selected Shorts once, and for a long time after I insisted that there was no other worthwhile contemporary translation of Homer. I swore by it. Lombardo's translation is pretty common in colleges because of the price and the slangy presentation. Then there is Fitzgerald, which some swear by, but Fitzgerald's translation is loose with the Greek and mannered and fey in its English. It even translates Odysseus as "Ulysses," a sure sign that fidelity to the Greek is not worth the translator's trouble. I am missing some others, I'm sure.

So let us begin at the beginning. In the Greek, the Iliad has "μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος" Quite literally, "Rage! sing goddess of the son of Peleus Achilles." μῆνιν means, more or less, the anger that engenders revenge, rage, wrath, anger are all ok to some degree. (It's complicated, an entire scholarly treatise is written on the meaning of the word.) Green gives, "Wrath, goddess, sing of Achilles Peleus's son's [/ wrath]." Fagles gives "Rage--Goddess sing the rage of Peleus's son Achilles." Lattimore gives "Sing, goddess, the anger of Peleus' son Achilleus." Green and Fagles are right to put the first word first. This is poetry, after all, the order of the words matter, the first especially. The first word is the theme of the poem, the way it is directed first against Agamemnon, then toward the Trojans, and then tempered for a common moment of humanity, is the internal trajectory of the whole epic. Wrath might be best of all, since it conveys that it is anger in a sense that is unfamiliar to modern readers.

Once, in my second year of taking Greek, I was told that there was no use of literal translations. Take it far enough, and you wind up with a textbook on how to read the book in the original Greek. Make it into readable English, and you wind up with a host of compromises where thousands of close translations might do. Go far enough you wind up with Girardoux's "The Trojan War Will Not Take Place," worthwhile on its own, but not really a "translation." That professor preferred Fitzgerald, but easy for her to do, she could read anything in Greek without any help. For us mortals with mostly forgotten Greek, or no Greek at all, closeness to the original in a translation should be treasured.

In the end, translating Homer is a game of compromises, How much of the strangeness of 2500 year old lines and 3200 year old motivations do you keep? Dactylic hexameter calls for lines much longer than any form of English verse, so shorter lines or not? And so on. For me, Fagles is as far to compromise with how English verse should go as I am willing to accept. For what it's worth, Lattimore's English verse is better than his critics complain of.

Starting from no knowledge of Greek, I'd choose Green. Over Lattimore because it's friendlier for the beginner and not worse as far as I can tell for a serious third reading. Over Fagles because the true-to-the-Greek line lengths convey the way the poem drives itself forward better in Green's line by line than in Fagles's free verse.

Also. The introduction includes a plot summary of the whole Trojan War, of which the Iliad only covers a small portion. I have never seen such a succinct and complete synopsis before. There is also a synopsis of the poem keyed to the poem in the back matter to help find your place, an enlightening glossary of names and concepts to help you through your first read, and footnotes to inform the reader of context that has since been lost.

Word to the wise re: Kindles. These are long verse lines. To get complete lines on a Kindle screen, you need a Kindle that allows text to display in landscape mode.Even then, complete lines only work in a very small font size. Get this in hardback for now. The hardback is stitched and bound to keep, so it is worth your money.
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on May 9, 2017
This is not a book review, but a warning: there is a technical problem with this page. I received a different translation than the one shown here, and apparently the page changes randomly (since someone else says this is the page for buying a copy of the Iliad!). I've reported the problem and it is being looked into. Because you can't leave a review without a star rating, I've using one star for this warning. That's no reflection on the book described here, which I hope to purchase once Amazon corrects this problem. I know this is an unusual use of book reviews, but I think it's important for people to know that if they purchase from this page there is no telling what they might receive. I will delete this once the problem is solved,
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on August 20, 2016
Set during the Trojan War, tension brews between Achilles and Agamemnon on the Greek side. Agamemnon steals Achilles’ war prize, Briseis, and Achilles then refuses to fight. The Trojans start to move in closer, under the leadership of Hector. Will Achilles fight or doom his comrades? The Iliad is a very bloody piece of literature. Warfare dominates almost every scene, and the book isn’t for the faint of heart. Besides the compelling human characters, gods play a part in The Iliad, and the gods just didn’t interest me at all. I had trouble following who was who, and which god was on which side, and I just didn’t care. But the human characters, especially Hector and Patroclus, I really loved. Definitely worth reading this piece of classic literature!
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on May 25, 2016
This book is a new edition of Pope's Iliad that was originally published by Penguin in the 90's. It's a very complete edition containing Pope's commentary that is usually omitted, and is a physically high quality book. It's also the only professionally published modern edition of this work in print. A prior reviewer commented on the high price. The only reason I can surmise for this is that the publisher is a small academic firm. It is also a TWO volume set, although this is not mentioned in the item description here. Unfortunately the publisher also fails to put that information on their website as well, so I had a problem of Amazon only shipping me only one of the two volumes, which was resolved.
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on May 18, 2014
Until I read Mitchell's excellent translation, I had never gotten as deep a sense of the cost of war: the exhaustion, the slaughtered bodies piling up, the fights over corpses, the grieving, the endless desire to avenge, defeat absorbing victories that barbaric, "butchery" to use Mitchell's word. Mitchell brings out the tension in the Iliad between the horrors of war and the desire for glory and honor that generate those horrors. The cover gives you a great sense of Mitchell's take on the poem: a soldier kneeling alone either because he is paying respect or because he is exhausted. By the way, Mitchell does include Book X. He just puts it in the back as an appendix with an illuminating and informative discussion of why scholars do not think it was part of Homer's poem. So you can read Book 10 if you wish.
English twentieth-century translations of Homer, translators tend to go in one of two directions: they heighten the archaic aspects of the Iliad, the formulae that look repetitive to a modern eye and ear. (Like whenever armor worn in combat is mentioned, it is always "bloodstained armor"); or translators abandon the oral roots of the poem and license themselves to get as poetic as they like, even adding lots of material (The Iliad (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) goes the furthest in this regard of any I know. Mitchell has really achieved something with this translation: the formulae are noticeable, but not because they are redact. He has thoroughly integrated them into his very contemporary translation, that they call your attention them the same way other formal aspects of the poem call attention to themselves. Mitchell's introduction is the most thoughtful and well-written of any I've read (Fales, Lattimore or Lomabardo The Iliad: The Fitzgerald Translation;The Iliad of Homer,Iliad). The paperback is also handsomely produced. The page size is much larger than most others and the ink is quite dark. I first read an adaptation of the poem as a child. I'm now 60. I'm really happy I Mitchell published this translation while I'm still able to read it.
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on July 9, 2017
I note that I read the E. V. Rieu translation....

I lack the knowledge to give a learned opinion on "The Iliad," either on its cultural significance over the millenia, or the historical insights that it provides, or on which person or group of people composed it. Back in high school, I did take ancient Greek for two years, during which we read part of "The Odyssey" in Greek. I remember almost nothing from that: the Greek alphabet, yes; the grammar, vocabulary, and the literature, no. I read "The Iliad" around then, but largely forgot it too.

I can report that I am glad to have re-read it, and that I have profited from the experience. The book is of interest in itself, separated from the impact it had as a foundational part of the Western canon. Observations that many others have made with which I agree: it is notable that the book begins nine years into the siege of Troy and that it covers a relatively short time-frame, stopping before Troy falls to the Achaeans; it is notable that wounds are described in gory detail, that at times even the great warriors flee in terror, that the warriors weep and wail; it is notable how un-heroic the heroes are: Achilles sulks and broods; Agamemnon is merciless, arrogant, irresponsible, genocidal; Hector flees.

I doubt "The Iliad" was intended or perceived as an anti-war book, but it certainly doesn't paint a glorious picture of noble heroes valiantly dying for a great cause. Despite this, the participants appear to see warfare as worthy, witness Hector's wish for his baby son, "Let him bring home the bloodstained armor of the enemy he has killed, and make his mother happy."

I was never proficient enough at Greek to appreciate the poetic merit of Homer, but E. V. Rieu's translation includes some beautiful passages, such as: "There are nights when the upper air is windless and the stars in heaven stand out in their full splendor round the bright moon; when every mountain-top and headland and ravine starts into sight, as the infinite depths of the sky are torn open to the very firmament; when every star is seen, and the shepherd rejoices. Such and so many were the Trojans' fires, twinkling in front of Ilium..."

Millenia have passed since "The Iliad" was created. Much has changed, and I found some of these changes almost comically striking, e.g. how often "The Iliad" cites tripods (yes, tripods) as magnificent treasures. To me, the most striking thing of all is that despite the passage of time, the story still speaks of things that matter to us, that move us. Anger. Violence. Grief. Love.
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on May 13, 2013
It's great to have the Lattimore translation available on Kindle, but there are drawbacks. The biggest would be the awkward coupling of words that are clearly meant to be one word. "Offended" becomes "off ended" regularly, for instance. "Craftsmanship" is "craft smanship". This seems to be done for the sake of lines that are divided in two because it is apparently impossible to fit an entire hexameter on one line (is this different on other Kindles? Mine is a first generation. I'd be curious to know). But even if you adjust your font to get as much of the line on one line as you can, this two syllable word (and others) are still broken into two separate words, creating a false archaism. In terms of the layout of the page, you always end up at least a small portion of the hexameter line indented beneath the line on which it began, and as a result the poetry "flows" differently. Of less concern, but nonetheless still a problem, there is no effort made to reproduce the fonts for the headings of each book, either.
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on September 20, 2015
After looking at all the translations out there I settled for this one. It has a wonderful rhythm, the language is fluid, it draws you into it. Unlike so many other translations, where I felt I would fall asleep, here I felt like I was sitting at a recital of the Iliad in an ancient Greek city and couldn't wait for it to progress, never mind I knew the story.
It comes with an incredibly helpful and interesting glossary. I also really appreciated that the names are in their Greek spelling and not latinized, which even the Fagles translation still does.
I'm going to reread it soon, it was simply so enjoyable.
I can only highly recommend this translation, I felt it was the closest I could come to experience the Iliad in the original.
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on March 6, 2017
I do not recall ever having to read the classics in school so I decided to educate myself and read them on my own, (much) later in life. I appreciate the translation of this edition, it is quite easy to read, although it clearly is not in any way "an easy read," but I find the story drags on unnecessarily with battle descriptives and dialogue repetitions. My husband assures me that when he read it in school there weren't so many details, and I can't say if that's his recollection or if his memory is accurate, but that is the one thing that somewhat bothers me about this book. I won't deny that there were passages in the book, particularly during battle scenes, where I have skipped over sentences to get to the unfolding morale.
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on September 19, 2016
The Kindle edition is not the Lattimore translation!! I was looking for an ebook version of the Lattimore translation of the Iliad. This book is advertised as such, but the translation is different. The actual translator of the kindle version is not identified, and I suspect it is an old, out-of-copyright translation from the 19th century.
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