Iliad by Homer

Posted: November 8, 2009 in Quick Reviews
Tags: , , , ,

Book : Iliad ( Penguin Classic Deluxe Edition) by Homer  ( Translation by Robert Fagles and Bernard Knox)

Category : Classics

Protagonist: Too many to list 🙂

Summary of the book :from the publisher’s website ( Don’t even ask me to summarize. It took me days to read this one .If not for this beautiful translation I would have been lost. Seriously )

The Iliad is the first and the greatest literary achievement of Greek civilization – an epic poem without rival in the literature of the world, and the cornerstone of Western culture.

The story of the Iliad centres on the critical events in the last year of the Trojan War, which lead to Achilleus’ killing of Hektor and determine the fate of Troy. But Homer’s theme is not simply war or heroism. With compassion and humanity, he presents a universal and tragic view of the world, of human life lived under the shadow of suffering and death, set against a vast and largely unpitying divine background. The Iliad is the first of the great tragedies.

Things I liked about this book:I had boldly signed up for  the Centuries Challenge where I had listed this book as one of my selections. I went to the library and asked for it. The librarian (she knows me well enough ) , gave me this look , the look  that was somewhere between surprise and sympathy. Surprise because I pick up YA , mysteries , chick lit from the library and sympathy because she could tell that I didn’t know what I was getting into.

I took me 30 minutes with the book to realise what I had done. I had got  the library’s oldest translation of Iliad. No offence to Iliad fans but I was lost . Then I had the sense of calling a friend who’s a major in literature and asking if there was an easily readable translation of  this great book. On her suggestion I got Penguin Classic  with translations by Robert Fagles and Bernard Knox.After that I sailed through. Took me a month to finish it though . Most important thing was I finished it.

The story of Final days of battle of Troy has been  told in a very beautiful manner. I had the 911 on Greek mythology after reading Percy Jackson and watching some movies like Helen Of Troy and Troy , so I was on safe grounds..

But now coming to the story , did I like it ? Tricky question.My answer , Yes and No

I was taken by the style  but this whole  Battle Of Troy scenario  has never impressed me . You might ask why. I ‘ll give you some of my reasons.

Achilles, Hector, Menelaus,Odysseus, Aias, were not just warriors they were men of valour and courage who fought a battle so long and so unnecessary(Trust me it was avoidable , but they had to keep the oath and all, so they fought) .Interference of Gods  was something I totally disliked . Could have let them fight their own battles for once( Gods being Gods had to meddle in this) .Good thing was ,these men  were immortalised by Homer  through this epic. This  blood bathed battle took  away so many years out of these mens lives , just think ..Is there anything to be happy about this story.

Even though I absolutely loved the writing  ,  I don’t always find that this story is  justified. This is  solely my opinion.And I know I will be criticised for criticising this immortal classic but it’s my opinion.

I am staying away from Greek Mythology for a few days. A month-long Iliad reading was all I could handle but that doesn’t stop me from recommending  this book, which I feel is a must read for anyone who loves literature.

Things I disliked about the book : Too many sub plots , too many characters . Too many things going wrong for everybody (exception – Gods )

Loved the writing style but  couldn’t disagree more with the plot .

On my rating scale : This is an excellent piece of literature for which I am not qualified enough to rate.

Challenges for which the book is listed : Centuries Challenge 2009

Classics Challenge 2009

Source : Borrowed from a friend (that reminds me , I need to thank her 🙂

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Comments
  1. Vasilly says:

    This has been on my reading list for years now. I really should read it soon. Great review.

  2. Nish says:

    Wow…2 thumbs up for sticking through and finishing this book.

    My only knowledge of this period is through the movie Troy, but it did strike me even while watching, that it seemed to be quite a pointless one.

    Just curious, does this poem address what happened to Paris and Helen? I am curious about their fate

    • docshona says:

      Nish , Helen appears in the last book of Iliad and only as a mourner for Hector. As this is more about Achilles and Hector , Fate of others isn’t covered here.

      I too had the same doubt so I did some digging about and found that she is a character In Odyssey as well . That means she survived the destruction of Troy. As for Paris,I am not intrested in knowing what happened to him. 🙂

  3. Veens says:

    I am in AWE! WOW GIRL!