'Fitzgerald has solved virtually every problem that has plagued translators of Homer.' Atlantic Monthly The Iliad is the story of a few days' fighting in the tenth year of the legendary war between the Greeks and the Trojans, which broke out when Paris, son of King Priam of Troy, abducted the fabulously beautiful Helen, wife of King Menelaus of Sparta. After a quarrel between the Greek commander, Agamemnon, and the greatest of the Greek warriors, Achilles, the gods become more closely involved in the action. Their intervention leads to the tragic death of Hector, the Trojan leader, and to the final defeat of the Trojans. But the Iliad is much more than a series of battle scenes. It is a work of extraordinary pathos and profundity that concerns itself with issues as fundamental as the meaning of life and death. Even the heroic ethic itself - with its emphasis on pride, honour, prowess in battle, and submission to the inexorable will of the gods - is not left unquestioned. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
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.