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The Iliad (Wordsworth Classics) Paperback – 5 Mar 1995


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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions; New Ed edition (5 Mar. 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1853262420
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853262425
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.4 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 35,161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) is best known for his utopian satire Erewhon, his posthumous novel The Way of All Flesh, and his translations of Homer. His family background made a career in the Church inevitable, but, while serving a low-income parish in London, he began to question his faith. He lived in New Zealand for five years, and later in life spent time in Italy. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By demola on 24 Mar. 2013
Format: Library Binding
I first read The Iliad almost twenty years ago and what a turgid hard read that was. I couldn't wait to put it down. It was my first contact with Greek literature and everything about it was unfamiliar and frustrating: the style, the characters, the length. Fast forward to today during which time I have spent a considerable time reading Greek literature and history and I thought, "Hmm let's tackle The Iliad again but let's get a new translation." So I got this one by Robert Fagles. The Introduction is massively important and I'm glad I read it first. Then I jumped right in and the story hits you right out the gate: the power, the electricity, the passion. It felt like I had turned the corner from a street enveloped by darkness into one illuminated by the blinding razzle-dazzle lights of an amusement park.

The story is set in the final year of the great Trojan War between the Greeks and the rich, proud city of Troy. The war was started when Paris, the handsome godlike prince of Troy stole or eloped with Helen, wife of Menelaus, King of Lacedaemon. She refused to go back to her wedded husband who, as far as he was concerned, believed she had been kidnapped. So ensued ten years of bitter bloody war that involved some of the greatest and most illustrious names in pre-writing Grecian history (or myth): Odysseus, Agamemnon, Ajax and the two central heroes, Achilles (on the Greek side) and Hector (on the Trojan side).

This book is, if anything, an incredible rush. Homer will make your hair stand on its roots and his pace and rhythm (as translated by Fagles) will make your heart race. Also captivating are the sideline schemes of the Gods - Zeus, Hera, Apollo, Poseidon etc - all supporting different sides and torn with grief when a favourite is doomed to hit the dust.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mr. P. W. Martin on 19 Jan. 2007
Format: Audio Cassette
a masteroiece. some abridgement but very little of note.

jacobi gives a terrific performanced- majestic, dramatic and holds the attention throughout

i like the translation- modern and understandable yet retaining power and not popular/vulgar

homer may have been an oral poet(fagles questions this in the written introduction-worth getting for this alone), in which case it is now possible to close your eyes and imagine the great man reciting his epic in person
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By S. Meadows on 18 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback
Many years ago, I picked up a copy of The Odyssey and loved it. It was a great story, brilliantly told and I was riveted by it. The translation I read then (by Walter Shewring) rendered the epic poem in modern prose.

Unfortunately, when I hoped for a similar read with the Iliad, I'm not convinced I picked the best translation. This translation (by George Chapman) was done over an 11 year period from 1598 to 1611 and it reads just as one might imagine if you have read much Shakespeare or The King James Bible. Only it's not quite as clear and understandable as either of those great bodies of work.

The main trouble is that the translator has attempted to preserve the poetic form in English and so has forced the whole text to be made into rhyming couplets. In order to make each pair of lines rhyme in English, he has had to tear up the text and rearrange the sentences just to create the effect. What this does is to completely screw up the word order and to introduce all manner of odd abbreviations and turns of phrase. So in aiming to make it poetic, the whole structure has been massacred. For this reason, I would not recommend this translation to anyone who isn't au fait with Chaucer or has qualms about reading Beowulf in its original form.

In order to try and make some sense of this, I found I had to make a conscious effort to ignore the artificial rhythm and rhyme and to try to read whole sentences. Once I managed to do this (which probably wasn't until book 3) The Iliad became a bit more intelligible. What is then revealed is an epic story of warfare and battles. The highly anthropomorphised gods of Greek mythology fight alongside their semi-human offspring and having petty squabbles with one another.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By bernie VINE VOICE on 24 Aug. 2011
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 R-ob-e-r-t-F-a-g-l-e-s, 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.
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