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The Iliad (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

Homer , E V Rieu
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
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Book Description

30 Jan 2003 Penguin Classics

Homer's Iliad is the greatest and most influential epic poem ever written, telling of the tragic and bloody climax to the ten-year siege of Troy. This Penguin Classics edition was originally translated by E.V. Rieu, revised and updated with an introduction and notes by Peter Jones and D.C.H. Rieu.

One of the foremost achievements in Western literature, Homer's Iliad tells the story of the darkest episode in the Trojan War. At its centre is Achilles, the greatest warrior-champion of the Greeks, and his refusal to fight after being humiliated by his leader Agamemnon. But when the Trojan Hector kills Achilles' close friend Patroclus, he storms back into battle to take revenge - even though he knows this will ensure his own untimely death. Interwoven with this tragic sequence of events are powerfully moving descriptions of the ebb and flow of battle, of the domestic world inside Troy's besieged city of Ilium, and of the conflicts between the Gods on Olympus as they argue over the fate of mortals.

E.V. Rieu's acclaimed translation of The Iliad was one of the first titles published in Penguin Classics, and now has classic status itself. For this edition, Rieu's text has been revised, and now a new introduction and notes by Peter Jones complement the original introduction.

Seven Greek cities claim the honour of being the birthplace of Homer (c. 8th-7th century BC), the poet to whom the composition of the Iliad and Odyssey are attributed. The Iliad is the oldest surviving work of Western literature, but the identity - or even the existence - of Homer himself is a complete mystery, with no reliable biographical information having survived.

If you enjoyed the Iliad, you might like Homer's Odyssey, also available in Penguin Classics.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Rev Ed edition (30 Jan 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140447946
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140447941
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 2.4 x 13 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More 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.

Product Description

About the Author

Homer is thought to have lived c.750-700 BC in Ionia and is believed to be the author of the earliest works of Western Literature: The Odyssey and The Iliad. E V Rieu was a celebrated translator from Latin and Greek, and editor of Penguin Classics from 1944-64. His son, D C H Rieu, has revised his work. Peter Jones is former lecturer in Classics at Newcastle. He co-founded the 'Friends of Classics' society and is the editor of their journal and a columnist for The Spectator.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful 3 Nov 2011
By Asma
Format:Paperback
I really think this translation is wonderful especially for those reading The Iliad for the first time. Although in prose it sticks with the meaning of the original Greek quite well and this prose approach would make it more interesting for the first time reader. The ideas and themes explored by Homer as well as the turn of events make this a fascinating and readable epic!
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unparalleled classic for the ages. 27 April 2011
By Iset TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
It seems a little presumptive to try and review Homer's Iliad, a tale almost 3000 years old and one of the great epics, if not the greatest epic, that the ancient world produced. Nor does the story need any introduction: the world over, people know of the legend of the Trojan War, of the young lovers Helen and Paris, and the two champions of the Greeks and the Trojans destined to die, Achilles and Hector. Such has been the impact of this timeless tale of love and war over the millennia, that most people will have heard of it through sheer cultural osmosis and readily understand references to an Achilles' heel or Helen as the face that launched a thousand ships, despite the fact that few of those will have actually read The Iliad. So, this isn't going to be my usual review format, but more a collections of thoughts and comments.

Like any story it has both positives and negatives, and whilst I would recommend The Iliad to anyone, it's only honest to mention all the features. Homer introduces a very wide cast of characters into the story, even outside the main characters, some of whom are mentioned once and then killed, and it can be a challenge to keep track of all the different names, though the recurring characters are strong enough to be readily memorable. Secondly, a key feature of Homer's style has always been a propensity towards asides and stories-within-stories. As a result, there are frequent points where he diverges from the actual main plot of The Iliad and will recount another tale in brief, usually in the form of a character retelling their former adventures and exploits. Sometimes this occurs as part of heroic etiquette; characters facing off on the battlefield decide to exchange lineages and adventures stories before one of them kills the other.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Iliad that Has Stood the Test of Time 14 April 2010
By Nicholas Casley TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This is a review of the E V Riue translation.

If you prefer your Iliad in translated prose rather than translated poetic form, then this edition by E V Rieu might be for you. First published in 1950, it might sound dated in places but the fact that it was reprinted by Penguin thirty-four times between 1951 and 1985 when I bought my copy is a testament to the strength of its text. I note that it is still being printed now in 2010!

The age of this translation means that the value of its fifteen-page introduction is perhaps not as great as it is now as it was then - Homer studies have moved on a great deal - but Rieu still has some valuable points to make. In addition, at the book's end there is a short glossary of personages. But those looking for a more up-to-date reference might prefer the recent Penguin edition translated by Robert Fagles, which received rave reviews when first published. I have not read it, but I have read within the last twelve months his fine translation of Virgil's `Aeneid'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keep it under your pillow as Alexander did! 1 May 2013
Format:Paperback
I finally managed to read The Iliad and got hooked on it! I started this book at least ten or fifteen times before but never could manage more than just a few pages. As a matter of fact, I was always curious to find out why Alexander the Great thought so highly of Achilles and this book, keeping a copy of it with annotations by Aristotle under his pillow all throughout his life. Achilles, the hero of the Iliad fascinated him at a point that he wanted to emulate his very acts - all in all, reason enough for me to read it.

Lately they were showing the movie on Troy with Brad Pitt once again on TV. This picture upset me very much for the sun is rising in the morning over Troy while this old city is facing straight West. The more I see of this movie, the more confused I get! How can they make a historic movie with so many errors or mistakes? For instance, there is Patroclus being introduced as being Achilles' cousin, which he is not, just an attendant who grew up with him. There is Briseis, presented as a cousin of Hector's and priestess of Apollo. She was neither, only Achilles' booty which Agamemnon took away from him because his own girl, Chryseis, priestess of Apollo, had to be returned to her father in exchange for a lavish ransom. And then I am not even talking about the famous horse that never could be rolled over the sandy beach shown in the picture, etc. Well, so much for the movie but it pushed me to dig out the full and true story about Troy once and for all. What better source than Homer's Iliad?

The Iliad is generally attributed to Homer, who may have written it or not, or may simply have assembled old tales to create the Iliad at some time around 700 or 800 BC, although even these dates are subject to discussion.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ground is dark with blood 7 April 2010
By bernie VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
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

"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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Damned good
This book right here was damned good in my opinion. Dogfight, Jimmy, bristled, star, fortunate, massive, frog, crook, megawatt, boom.
Published 2 months ago by Huw Davies
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Hard work to understand any of it
Published 2 months ago by peter johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars 100% amazing
This is easily the best thing on all of amazon so please get it if not for your own well being but for ACHILLES
Published 3 months ago by Liz Dorrian
4.0 out of 5 stars Did Homer write the Iliad...who knows?
Looking back I am glad to say I have read this book however at the time I'm pretty sure I was board while reading it. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Golden_Giraffe
5.0 out of 5 stars college
Very suitable for anyone from upper secondary school up. Even if you do not need it as a school book, its still well worth a read. Lets face it, its a great book. Try it and see.
Published 5 months ago by a person of good taste
3.0 out of 5 stars Home Sweet Homer
A truly good base for Western literature, Homer's Iliad reveals the two sides of battle and the battle the heroes must have faced in their heads. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars As expected
I bought this when I was doing my A-Levels, It came in great condition and really helped with my course, It was surprisingly interesting to study too.
Published 6 months ago by Sarah Greatorex
5.0 out of 5 stars very reasonably priced
I am very pleased with this book it is in great condition and it was very reasonably priced. Thank you
Published 7 months ago by Suzanne
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classy Classic
Good condition upon arrival and it arrived on time. the explanation in the front was a trifle wordy and those younger students might find it harder to understand but to an adult... Read more
Published 8 months ago by l c norman
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
This is a classic. This translation is clear and the introduction sets out the key ides really well. Ideal for Classics study
Published 8 months ago by Mr N Powney
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