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review 2017-07-17 04:24
The Iliad of Homer
The Iliad of Homer - Homer,Richmond Lattimore

The cover of this book looks like Jewels: A Secret History if you're not paying attention. Which I often wasn't, so I kept grabbing this book when I wanted that one.

 

I spent way too long deciding which translation I would read of The Iliad. Basically just decide if you want prose or poetry and then pick one. I don't think it really matters.* Maybe check the footnotes if you're not reading this as part of a class. But it's probably best read in a class with a professor who knows way more about Homer than I do. Then they could explain Book 23 to me... seriously the whole time I was reading it I was like, I don't understand the Greeks. What is this? 

 

I will say that the word nipple showed up way more than I expected, and some of the big events I was expecting were glossed over very quickly (basically anything to do with women). I found all the parts where the women were included (goddesses or mortals) to be the most interesting, and I can't believe that's where the poem ends.

 

I was planning on reading the Odyssey immediately after this, but then I needed a break so that will have to wait until later. I'm going to read the Fitzgerald translation most likely, in case anyone was wondering. But I might go with Fagles because I think that edition has better footnotes. We'll see what's available from the library at the time.

 

*Although I did read part of Pope's translation, and I couldn't do 24 books of that. Very impressive to think he did the whole thing though.

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text 2017-06-23 23:06
The Odyssey
The Iliad and the Odyssey - Homer

The Odyssey by Homer

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

 

The crafty hero of The Iliad is in the last leg of his long ten year journey home, but it not only his story that Homer relates to the reader in this sequel to the first war epic in literature.  The Odyssey describes the Odysseus’ return to Ithaca after twenty years along with the emergence of his son Telemachus as a new hero while his faithful wife Penelope staves off suitors who are crowding their home and eating their wealth daily.

 

Although the poem is named after his father, Telemachus’ “arc” begins first as the reader learns about the situation on Ithaca around Odysseus’ home and the search he begins for information on his father’s whereabouts.  Then we shift to Odysseus on a beach longing to return home when he is informed his long sojourn is about to end and he sets off on a raft and eventually arrives among the Phaeacians, who he relates the previous ten years of his life to before they take him back home.  On Ithaca, Odysseus and his son eventually meet and begin planning their revenge on the Penelope’s suitors that results in slaughter and a long-awaited family reunion with Penelope.

 

First and foremost The Odyssey is about coming home, in both Telemachus’ and Odysseus’ arcs there are tales of successful homecomings, unsuccessful homecomings, and homecoming that never happen of heroes from The Iliad.  Going hand-in-hand with homecomings is the wanderings of other heroes whose adventures are not as exciting or as long as Odysseus’.  Interwoven throughout the poem with homecomings and wanderings is the relationship between guests and hosts along with the difference between good and bad for both that has long reaching consequences.  And finally throughout Odysseus’ long journey there are tests everywhere of all types for him to overcome or fail, but the most important are Penelope’s both physical and intimate.

 

Even though it is a sequel, The Odyssey is in complete contrast to The Iliad as instead of epic battle this poem focuses on a hero overcoming everything even the gods to return home.  Suddenly the poet who gave readers a first-hand account of war shows his readers the importance of returning from war from the perspective of warriors and their families.   Although they are completely different, The Odyssey in fact compliments The Iliad as well as completing it which means if you read one you have to read the other.

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text 2017-06-19 00:48
The Iliad
The Iliad and the Odyssey - Homer

The Iliad by Homer

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

 

The wrath of Achilles not only begins the oldest piece of Western literature, but is also its premise.  The Iliad has been the basis of numerous clichés in literature, but at its root it is a story of a war that for centuries was told orally before being put down by Homer in which the great heroes of Greece fought for honor and glory that the men of Homer’s day could only imagine achieving.

 

The story of the Trojan War is well known and most people who have not read The Iliad assume they know what happens, but in fact at the end of the poem the city of Troy still stands and a wooden horse has not been mentioned.  The Iliad tells of several weeks in the last year of the war that revolve around the dishonorable actions of Agamemnon that leads to Achilles refusing to fight with the rest of the Greeks and the disaster it causes in the resulting engagements against the Trojans.  But then Achilles allows his friend Patroclus to lead his men into battle to save the Greek ships from being put to the torch only for Patroclus to advance to the walls of Troy and be slain by Hector.  The wrath of Achilles turns from Agamemnon to Hector and the Trojans, leading to the death of Troy’s greatest warrior and the poem ending with his funeral.

 

Although the actions of Achilles and Hector take prominence, there are several other notable “storylines” one doesn’t know unless you’ve read epic.  First and foremost is Diomedes, the second greatest fighter amongst the Greeks but oftentimes overlooked when it comes to adaptations especially to other important individuals like Odysseus, Menelaus, and the pivotal Patroclus.  The second is how much the Olympians and other minor deities are thought to influence the events during this stretch of the war and how both mortals and immortals had to bow to Fate in all circumstances.  The third is how ‘nationalistic’ the epic is in the Greek perspective because even though Hector is acknowledged the greatest mortal-born warrior in the war on both sides, as a Trojan he has to have moments of cowardice that none of the Greek heroes are allowed to exhibit and his most famous kill is enabled by Apollo instead of all by himself.  And yet, even though Homer writes The Iliad as a triumphant Greek narrative the sections that have Hector’s flaws almost seem hollow as if Homer and his audience both subconsciously know that his epic is not the heroic wrath of Achilles but the tragic death of Hector.

 

The Iliad is the ultimate classic literature and no matter your reading tastes one must read it to have a better appreciation for all of literature as a whole.  Although the it was first written over 2500 years ago, it shows the duality of heroic feats and complete tragedy that is war.

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text 2017-04-27 23:32
Bucket List Reading
The Iliad of Homer - Elizabeth Vandiver
The Odyssey of Homer - Elizabeth Vandiver,The Great Courses,The Great Courses
The Iliad & The Odyssey - Homer,John Lescault

I finally checked off another item on my literary bucket list: The Iliad and the Odyssey. I've had the audio version in my TBR for a couple of years now but very recently picked up these two Great Course lectures to read along with the The I & The O so that maybe I would get more out of the story. It was a good move on my part.

 

However, I bought and listened to the two lectures in the wrong order, thinking that they were two free standing lectures lecture series. Actually, they should be read in the same order as the two epics. Not that they weren't helpful but that there was general info in The Iliad lectures that would have been helpful to have heard before listening to the two epics--not after.

 

 

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text 2017-04-21 19:57
Half Price Sale for Audible US Members
The Iliad of Homer - Elizabeth Vandiver
The Crime at Black Dudley - Margery Allingham,David Thorpe
The Great Decision: Jefferson, Adams, Marshall, and the Battle for the Supreme Court - Cliff Sloan,David McKean,Peter Jay Fernandez
American Ideals: Founding a 'Republic of Virtue' - Daniel N. Robinson

I love these half price sales. It works really great for grabbing up titles that will cost less than the cost of a credit--why waste a credit if I can get it for less. So these titles have been sitting in my wish list, some of them for a few years now, waiting for the celestial confluence of half price sale and my decision that I'm ready to add that particular title to my library. Sale ends April 24, so there may be even more edition additions.

 

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