The Iliad

Homer

Published by Atria Books, 2012
ISBN 10: 1439163383 / ISBN 13: 9781439163382
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Synopsis: One of the New Yorker’s Favorite Books from 2011—from the renowned translator of Rilke, Tao Te Ching, and Gilgamesh, a vivid new translation of Western civilization’s foundational epic: the Iliad.

One of The New Yorker’s Favorite Books of 2 011

Tolstoy called the Iliad a miracle; Goethe said that it always thrust him into a state of astonishment. Homer’s story is thrilling, and his Greek is perhaps the most beautiful poetry ever sung or written. But until now, even the best English translations haven’t been able to re-create the energy and simplicity, the speed, grace, and pulsing rhythm of the original. Now, thanks to the power of Stephen Mitchell’s language, the Iliad’s ancient story comes to moving, vivid new life, and we are carried along by a poetry that lifts even the most devastating human events into the realm of the beautiful.

Mitchell’s Iliad is also the first translation based on the work of the preeminent Homeric scholar Martin L. West, whose edition of the original Greek identifies many passages that were added after the Iliad was first written down, to the detriment of the music and the story. Omitting these hundreds of interpolated lines restores a dramatically sharper, leaner text. In addition, Mitchell’s illuminating introduction opens the epic still further to our understanding and appreciation.

Review: So great is the impact of ancient Greek literature on Western culture that even people who have never read Homer's Iliad or The Odyssey know a lot about them. The Trojan Horse, Achilles' heel, the Sirens' call, Scylla and Charybdis--all have entered popular mythology, becoming metaphors for the less heroic situations we face in our own lives. Ever since these oral poems were committed to paper (probably in the 8th century B.C.E.), people have been translating them. The version of Iliad translated by Stanley Lombardo is a brave departure from previous translations; Lombardo attempts to adapt the text to the needs of readers rather than the listeners for whom the work was originally intended. To this end, he has streamlined the poem, removing many of the stock repetitions such as the infamous "rosy-fingered dawn," or rewriting them in ways dependent on their context. What emerges is a vivid, lively rendition of one of the world's great stories of men and war.

But classicists, beware: This Iliad has something of a '90s sensibility, from the cover art (a photograph of the D-Day Normandy landing) to Achilles' Rambo-like diction. It might well outrage the purists, but for those who remember their musty high-school reading of Homer's great epic with a barely suppressed yawn, Lombardo's energetic translation is just the version to change their minds.

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Title: The Iliad
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: 2012
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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