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The Iliad (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 30 Jan 2003

4.6 out of 5 stars 71 customer reviews

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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: 12.9 x 2.5 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 14,136 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Fitzgerald has solved virtually every problem that has plagued translators of Homer. The narrative runs, the dialogue speaks, the military action is clear, and the repetitive epithets become useful text rather than exotic relics." -"Atlantic Monthly "
"Fitzgerald's swift rhythms, bright images, and superb English make Homer live as never before...This is for every reader in our time and possibly for all time."-"Library Journal "
"[Fitzgerald's "Odyssey" and "Iliad"] open up once more the unique greatness of Homer's art at the level above the formula; yet at the same time they do not neglect the brilliant texture of Homeric verse at the level of the line and the phrase." -"The Yale Review
"
"What an age can read in Homer, what its translators can manage to say in his presence, is one gauge of its morale, one index to its system of exultations and reticences. The supple, the iridescent, the ironic, these modes are among our strengths, and among Mr. Fitzgerald's." -"National Review"
With an Introduction by Gregory Nagy

Fitzgerald has solved virtually every problem that has plagued translators of Homer. The narrative runs, the dialogue speaks, the military action is clear, and the repetitive epithets become useful text rather than exotic relics. "Atlantic Monthly "
Fitzgerald s swift rhythms, bright images, and superb English make Homer live as never before This is for every reader in our time and possibly for all time. "Library Journal "
[Fitzgerald s "Odyssey" and "Iliad"] open up once more the unique greatness of Homer s art at the level above the formula; yet at the same time they do not neglect the brilliant texture of Homeric verse at the level of the line and the phrase. "The Yale Review
"
What an age can read in Homer, what its translators can manage to say in his presence, is one gauge of its morale, one index to its system of exultations and reticences. The supple, the iridescent, the ironic, these modes are among our strengths, and among Mr. Fitzgerald s. "National Review"
With an Introduction by Gregory Nagy"

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

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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By bernie TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 7 April 2010
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a review of the E.V. Rieu prose translation of `The Iliad', revised by D.C.H. Rieu, published by Penguin Classics.

I never thought that the day would come, but here I am, much to my dismay, writing a largely unfavourable review of one of mankind's greatest achievements, Homer's `The Iliad'. Before you chastise me and call me an uneducated cretin (and I don't blame you if that's exactly what you're thinking right now), please allow me a chance to emphasise just how much I wanted to love this, to give it a five star review, and to heap praise upon praise onto this monumental piece of work. However, try as I might, I'd be lying to myself if I did that to this particular translation.

E.V. Rieu's translation of `The Odyssey' was actually the very first Penguin Classics book and so, from a historical perspective, it should come as no surprise that that and his `Iliad' are considered "classics" in of themselves. But times have changed since Rieu first opened up these cornerstones of Western civilisation to the masses. Scholarly research has progressed, the English language has evolved, and so Rieu's son, D.C.H. Rieu, was charged with the task of revising his father's original translation for a modern audience. As far as a prose translation of `The Iliad' goes, then, you probably can't do much better than this.

However, this begs the question, why exactly would you want to read a prose translation of `The Iliad' anyway? It is, after all, supposed to be a poem, not prose. Buying this book a few years ago, but not reading it until very recently, I chose to read a prose version because, in my naïve youth, I thought it would be easier and more accessible than a poetic equivalent. And, indeed, it probably is.
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