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4.4 out of 5 stars29
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 3 October 2004
Richmond Lattimore's translation of the Iliad is easily the best I have ever read. The language and construction of the verses are probably as close as you can get to the original greek and still have reasonable readability in modern english. An excellent companion to the original greek too. The only let down is that there isn't a good critcal essay collection attached, but maybe I am being greedy asking for that too!
I would instantly recommend this to any reader whether for study or pleasure, an excellent translation of a stupendue epic.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 October 2006
I know some people prefer the Fagles translation but Lattimore is my favourite for his sheer ability to convey the full majesty and weight of Homer's phrases without ever making the text unreadable or confused. I read this for the first time as a callow 18-year old student and still go back to it repeatedly for the pure humanity that shines out of Homer's words. In some ways the heroic code of Homer's warriors is alien to us, and yet infinitely understandable still. But what Homer does so supremely is to make his characters live in all their glory and stride off the page from the first words: from glorious Achilles who has to face his own humanity and mortality, to Hector who struggles to maintain his heroic persona in the face of the pleas of his women; from beautiful, self-blaming Helen, to virtuous Andromache, these people really live and suffer and we suffer with them. There is still no moment so supreme in European literature as when Achilles and Priam weep together over Hector's dead body and are reconciled before the end knowing that Achilles own death is fated to follow...

If you haven't read this before then I envy you!
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on 7 August 1998
I found Latimore's language so powerful and evocative of Homer's world that I decided to study Ancient Greek. His insights were so keenly borne out in my experience of studying Greek that I became a college Classics Major the following year. He is meticulous in translating the same phrase the same way each time he meets it in the text and so the haunting echoes of previous uses resound in your ear like music.
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on 8 December 2000
This is not only an excellent literary translation, but a brilliant aid when studying the Iliad in the original Greek. Lattimore's idioms are brilliant, and he manages to beautifully render tortuous passages of Greek both faithfully and dramatically into english.
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on 5 March 2012
Physically the hardback is a beautifully produced book, with excellent paper and sewn binding, and also great for reading - not too bulky or heavy. The typeface is clear, and the pages are a little wider than previously, giving more thumb-room and fewer broken lines (and more space in the gutters). The original edition had Lattimore's very helpful introduction, but it cried out for detailed notes as well, to give the reader a few more signposts to the action. So the idea of adding notes to this new edition is a good one.

However, I continue to find these notes disappointing (expertly written though they are), a bit distracting and unilluminating for a basic understanding of the poem as a whole. The key I think is in the author's stated intention to minimize overlap with other separately available companions to Lattimore's 'Iliad', especially Willcock's brilliant A Companion to the "Iliad": Based on the Translation by Richard Lattimore (Phoenix Books). The result is a commentary that does not feel like it is self-contained, and too often reads like a supplement to Willcock, over-emphasising recent advances in knowledge while neglecting some of the most basic requirements of a first-time reader - like beginning the notes to each book with a summary of the action. To me the opportunity of in-book notes is more precious than that, and the prime consideration should have been for readers who (the majority, I'm sure) will not want a separate commentary. So rather than pussy-footing around Willcock's commentary, they should have made something like a boiled down version of it (and the others), unapologetically plundering whatever of content or arrangement that would help smooth along a basic reading.

The new introduction (also by Richard Martin) is very interesting to read as an essay, but, like the notes, it seems better pitched to a reader returning to the poem, and is missing some of the elementary guidance that a first-time reader needs.

Still, an annotated Lattimore is the sort of thing that should be snapped up, and Richard Martin's notes are fine when judged on their own terms (rather than mine!) In the end I don't regret buying the new edition, but I found it best to read the notes SEPARATELY. At least they have been placed unobtrusively at the back of the book! (The notes I dream of should help the flow of the poem so well that they would be unobtrusive if set as footnotes.)
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 5 September 2013
" `... insignificant / mortals, who are as leaves are, and now flourish and grow warm / with life, and feed on what the ground gives, but then again / fade away and are dead.' "

Note: this review is of the translation of the Iliad by Richmond Lattimore (University of Chicago Press, first published 1951: ISBN 0-226-46940-9)

While nearly everyone may be familiar with parts of the story of the Iliad, it probably comes as a surprise to many that Achilles does not actually die in the poem, but his fate is already set. I've read a lot of novels over the years based on stories around the Iliad and the Odyssey, and am familiar with much that happens in the overall storyline, but it's not until you read a really good transation, such as this one (assuming you cannot read the original Greek which I'm sorry to say I cannot) that you `hear' the beauty and compellingly stunning craft of this epic poem.

The lines of description, of action, of beauty and of horror remain true to colour even at this distance of years and culture. So much of the action in the book is of horrific battle scenes, where those who were wounded, unless it was superficial, had little or no chance of survival given the manner of war in those times. The descriptive battle scenes are, even to our `modern' jaded senses still horrific - for example "Patroklos coming close up to him stabbed with a spear-thrust at the right side of the jaw and drove it on through the teeth, then hooked and dragged him with the spear over the rail ... and as he fell the life left him." (16.404-410).

Lattimore's transation, first published in 1951, remains the translation of choice still for many scholars, and I'm glad I have read the Iliad right through in this translation. It is empathetic and retains much of the rhythm and structure of the original poem, according to other commentaries and works on the Iliad that I am currently studying in conjunction with this work.

15,693 lines of epic poetry, if composed by one man, that mysterious `Homer', and written down perhaps some two and a half thousand or more years ago, is a stunning accomplishment even today; to have been able to compose such a beautiful and astonishingly crafted work such a long time ago, especially if it was originally an orally remembered and transmitted work really does boggle the mind to consider. Brilliant stuff.
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on 5 March 2003
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 and I would not really consider using anything else in my Classical Greek and Roman Mythology course. I also like to use the "Iliad" as part of a larger epic involving the plays of Euripides, specifically "Iphigenia at Aulis" and "Trojan Women," as well as relevant sections from the "Aeneid" and other sources on the Fall of Troy. But the "Iliad" remains the centerpiece of any such larger tale, mainly because of the final dramatic confrontation when King Priam goes to weep over the bloody hands of Achilles. Not until Steinbeck writes "The Grapes of Wrath" is there anything in Western Literature offering as stunning an end piece.
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on 18 April 2012
This is an absolutely terrible edition of the Iliad, with so many errors that it's barely even readable. I suspect that it was produced by taking another edition and OCR'ing it, then not making any attempt to check that the results were reasonable before printing it again. It's just about possible to figure out what the text was supposed to say, but it's hard work, and detracts massively from the actual poem.

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Leaving Pope aside, I've tasted a few translations and its a match-up between Lattimore and Lombardo. I love Stanley Lombardo's choppy and fast style. He doesn't try to be all poetic and noble, I mean this in a good way.

Lattimore's is the grandest translation because of the fancy English that isn't embarrassed to be fancy and 'old fashioned' (whatever that means).

I recommend this to all first timers. If you read this translation, then move on to Pope's, then it will take you there!

The way a hologram requires two laser beams to create the image, well Lattimore and Pope are required to create Homer's vision in the mind of the lucky reader!
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on 15 April 2011
Naming the translator of the Iliad & Odyssey is a requisite of all catalogues, and a pre-condition of ordering.
[This applies to translations of ALL classics written in a language other than English.]
Please catalogue books accordingly.
Michael Best
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