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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest War, Anti-War And Poem Ever?
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...
Published 21 months ago by demola

versus
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beware which translation you choose
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...
Published on 18 Sep 2012 by S. Meadows


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest War, Anti-War And Poem Ever?, 24 Mar 2013
This review is from: The Iliad (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. The air is filled with a palpable sense of tragedy especially for the soldiers; their hopes and fears and fathers and mothers and wives and children to whom they will never return. Homer spares you none of the gory details of death and that darkness that claims the eyes when a spear runs one through and comes out the back or when an axe spills open the contents of the brain. Fagles is quite adept at ensuring your stomach turns.

It is easy to see how generations of Greek recruits could be energised by these stories and today's flying of the Stars & Stripes gives an idea but doesn't come close. But after six hundred pages one also starts to feel sick of the earth running black with blood. In that respect the greatest war book also becomes a potent anti-war polemic. When the book draws to a close with its climactic finish you feel subdued awe at what just happened. Homer does not end with the sacking of Troy (via the Trojan Horse) but you know it's coming and your mind creates the carnage that must have ensued. [Homer's "The Odyssey" and Vergil's "The Aeneid" carry on from the end of the Trojan War if you want to read more].

Thanks to publisher Penguin: loving the rough edged paper of this edition.

PS. I thought that since I loved this translation I should go compare with the one from twenty years ago to appreciate the difference a translation makes. Oops, turned out the old was the new; it was the same translation! Goes to show how we often get rubbed the wrong way by the new and unfamiliar like I was twenty years ago; and how a little education, like I've done in the meanwhile, can make us less intimidated by worlds (and people) unlike what we were used to and to open us to discovery and a wider circumference of enjoyments.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars homer on tape, 19 Jan 2007
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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
3.0 out of 5 stars Beware which translation you choose, 18 Sep 2012
This review is from: The Iliad (Wordsworth Classics) (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. The panoply of plentiful persons which populates the prose puzzled me rather, as it was hard to keep track of them, particularly because some of them, once introduced, met a rather grizzly death.

Is it a good book? Undoubtedly.
Is this version the best? No chance.

Beware which translation you choose!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unfinished symphony?, 8 Nov 2012
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This review is from: The Iliad (Kindle Edition)
A very Victorian translation, without anything to grab the attention of the modern reader. This would be a very poor introduction to the work of Homer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unfathamoble, you need a doctorate in ridiculosly old fashioned ..., 8 Oct 2014
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This review is from: The Iliad (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback)
Unfathamoble, you need a doctorate in ridiculosly old fashioned old english poetic nonsense, to still not get a handle on this translation. Who decided this should go into modern print ?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star, 26 Oct 2014
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This review is from: The Iliad (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback)
Print far too small - impossible to read, or even work out where the text and the commentary separate
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27 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very important piece of literature., 31 May 1999
By A Customer
The Iliad of Homer focuses on the actions of the hero Achilleus and their consequences. Homer tells the story of the Trojan War, not only the battles, but also looking at the misery of war, fate and the role of the gods. His use of formulae enforce certain ideas upon his audience, Homer's descriptions of death often include the same formulaic phrase such as "his soul sank down to Hades" this is used to symbolise the death of not only the person in question, but the deaths of the many victims of war, all become equal in death. In this way, the epic is not only a war story, but a story of emotion and real life. It is also important to remember that Homer composed the poem to be recited rather than read, this can make the book seem long and perhaps even a little tedious to read at times, but perseverance is highly rewarding. The Iliad and Odyssey are perhaps two of the most important pieces of literature in existence, it is a pity that they are not more widely known and appreciated.
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5.0 out of 5 stars the elite translation, 8 July 2013
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This review is from: The Iliad (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback)
Elizabethan English is to our language what Attic Greek is to modern Greek. This is why Chapman's Homer is so hard.

Also, the way the ancient Greeks had finer minds than the modern Greeks, well Chapman has a finer mind than modern poets. William Shakespeare is not the anomaly they tell us in school. Its seems that they were all at in in those days!

Another resonance with ancient Greece. Only the Hellenic elite could read in the ancient world and in Elizabethan England, if you could read then you are also part of the intellectual elite. So this is another reason why this book is so hard to read, it was aimed at a small group of intellects. Chapman was not writing for hoi polloi.

So check it out and the price is bargain!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The First Anti-War Story?, 24 Jun 2013
By 
Jan Dierckx (Belgium, Turnhout) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Iliad (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback)
You would think that The Iliad is about the war against Troy because Paris abducted Helen, wife of Menelaos - one of the greek commanders.
And yet Homerus begins his epos by asking the Muses to support him in - not in telling the Trojan war, as one might expect - but to tell about the quarrel between Agamemnon - the chief in command - and Achilles, one of the Greek commanders. The quarrel is about
a girl. Her name is Briseis, one of the slaves. Agamemnon took her away from Achilles.

In doing so, Homerus creates a parallel with Menelaos - one of the greek commanders- who lost his wife because Paris took her to Troy.
Instead of a war poem Homerus tells us the coming of age of Achilles.

In the beginning he's like a whining child making a quarrel with Agamemnon over a girl. He refuses to send his troops into the battle. But when things are going bad for the Greeks, some of the warlords go to the tent of Achilles and implore him to participate in the battle.He refuses but agrees that his friend Patroclus leads his troops to battle. ( It's noteworthy that Agamemnon plays second fiddle to Achilles from start to finish.)

When Hector - a Trojan commander - kills Patroclus, Achilles grieves for a long time and he finally understands that in a war there are no victors only losers. He becomes a man with understanding and compassion for the grief of others, even for his enemy. He has come a long way since his childish whining for Briseis.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The ground is dark with blood, 24 Aug 2011
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Iliad (Wordsworth Classics) (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."
-Translated by Stanley Lombardo, 1997

"Anger be now your song, immortal one,
Akhilleus' anger, doomed and ruinous,
that caused the Akhaians loss on bitter loss
and crowded brave souls into the undergloom,
leaving so many dead men--carrion
for dogs and birds; and the will of Zeus was done.
Begin it when the two men first contending
broke with one another--
the Lord Marshal Agamémnon, Atreus' son, and Prince Akhilleus."
-Translated by Translated by Robert Fitzgerald, 1963

"Sing, goddess, the anger of Peleus' son of Achilleus and its devastation, which puts pains thousandfold upon the Achains,
hurled in the multitudes to the house of Hades strong souls of heroes, but gave their bodies to be the delicate feasting of dogs, of all birds, and the will of Zeus was accomplished since that time when first there stood the division of conflict Atrecus' son the lord of men and brilliant Achilleus."
-Translated by Richmond Lattimore, 1951

"Sing, goddess, of Peleus' son Achilles' anger, ruinous, that caused the Greeks untold ordeals, consigned to Hades countless valiant souls, heroes, and left their bodies prey for dogs or feast for vultures. Zeus's will was done from when those two first quarreled and split apart, the king, Agamemnon, and matchless Achilles."
-Translated by Herbert Jordan, 2008

"An angry man-there is my story: the bitter rancor of Achillês, prince of the house of Peleus, which brought a thousand troubles upon the Achaian host. Many a strong soul it sent down to Hadês, and left the heroes themselves a prey to the dogs and carrion birds, while the will of God moved on to fulfillment."
-Translated and transliterated by W.H.D. Rouse, 1950

"Achilles' wrath, to Greece the direful spring
Of woes unnumber'd, heavenly goddess, sing!
That wrath which hurl'd to Pluto's gloomy reign
The souls of mighty chiefs untimely slain;
Whose limbs unburied on the naked shore,
Devouring dogs and hungry vultures tore.
Since great Achilles and Atrides strove,
Such was the sovereign doom,
and such the will of Jove!"
-Translated by Alexander Pope, 1720

"Achilles sing, O Goddess! Peleus' son;
His wrath pernicious, who ten thousand woes
Caused to Achaia's host, sent many a soul
Illustrious into Ades premature,
And Heroes gave (so stood the will of Jove)
To dogs and to all ravening fowls a prey,
When fierce dispute had separated once
The noble Chief Achilles from the son
Of Atreus, Agamemnon, King of men."
-Translated by William Cowper, London 1791

"Achilles' baneful wrath - resound, O goddess - that impos'd
Infinite sorrow on the Greeks, and the brave souls loos'd
From beasts heroic; sent them far, to that invisible cave*
That no light comforts; and their limbs to dogs and vultures gave:
To all which Jove's will give effect; from whom the first strife begun
Betwixt Atrides, king of men, and Thetis' godlike son*"
-Translated by George Chapman, 1616

"The Rage of Achilles--sing it now, goddess, sing through me
the deadly rage that caused the Achaeans such grief
and hurled down to Hades the souls of so many fighters,
leaving their naked flesh to be eaten by dogs
and carrion birds, as the will of Zeus was accomplished.
Begin at the time when bitter words first divided
that king of men, Agamemnon, and godlike Achilles."
-Translated by Stephen Mitchell

"Sing now, goddess, the wrath of Achilles the scion of Peleus,
ruinous rage which brought the Achaians uncounted afflictions;
many of the powerful souls it sent to the dwelling of Hades,
those of the heroes, and spoil for the dogs it made it their bodies,
plunder for the birds, and the purpose of Zeus was accomplished__"
-Translated by Rodney Merrill

"Sing, goddess, the anger of Achilles, Peleus' son,
the accused anger which brought the Achaeans countless
agonies and hurled many mighty shades of heroes into Hades,
causing them to become the prey of dogs
and all kinds of birds; and the plan of Zeus was fulfilled."
-Translated by Anthony Verity

"Of Peleus' son, Achilles, sing, O Muse,
The vengeance, deep and deadly; whence to Greece
Unnumbered ills arose; which many a soul
Of mighty warriors to the viewless shades
Ultimately sent; they on the battle plain
Unburied lay, to rav'ning dogs,
And carrion birds; but had Jove decreed,"
-Translated by Edward Smith-Stanly 1862

"Sing, Goddess of the rage of Achilles, son of Peleus-
that murderous anger witch condemned Achaeans
to countless agonies and threw many warrior souls
deep into Hades, leaving their dead bodies
carrion food for dogs and birds-
all in the fulfillment of the will of Zeus"
- Translated by Professor Ian Johnston, British Columbia 2006

"The rage, sing O goddess, of Achilles, son of Peleus,
The destructive anger that brought ten-thousand pains to the
Achaeans and sent many brave souls of fighting men to the house
of Hades and made their bodies a feast for dogs
and all kinds of birds. For such was the will of Zeus."
- Translated by Barry B. Powell

Another translation is by Ennis Samuel Rees, Jr. (March 17, 1925 - March 24, 2009)

You will find that some translations are easier to read but others are easier to listen to on recordings, lectures, Kindle, and the like. If you do not see information on specific translators, it is still worth the speculation and purchase. Right after the translation readability and understanding, do not overlook the introduction which gives an inset to what you are about to read.

The Stephen Mitchell translation goes though each of the major characters so well that you think you know them before you starts reading. Other introductions explain the struggle between different types of power. Rodney Merrill's 28 page introduction focuses on singing.

The Oxford University Press Barry B. Powell has an extensive introduction with real "MAPS". Also there is information of the finder Schliemann. We even get annotation on the meaning being conveyed.

Our story takes place in the ninth year of the ongoing war. We get some introduction to the first nine years but they are just a background to this tale of pride, sorrow and revenge. The story will also end abruptly before the end of the war.

We have the wide conflict between the Trojans and Achaeans over a matter of pride; the gods get to take sides and many times direct spears and shields.

Although the more focused conflict is the power struggle between two different types of power. That of Achilles, son of Peleus and the greatest individual warrior and that of Agamemnon, lord of men, whose power comes form position.

We are treated to a blow by blow inside story as to what each is thinking and an unvarnished description of the perils of war and the search for Arête (to be more like Aries, God of War.)

Troy - The Director's Cut [Blu-ray]
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The Iliad (Wordsworth Classics)
The Iliad (Wordsworth Classics) by Homer (Paperback - 5 Mar 1995)
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