33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Rage, Sing Goddess of the Rage of Peleus's son,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Iliad (Paperback)
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.