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The Iliad
by Homer

Gripping listeners and readers for more than 2,700 years, The Iliad is the story of the Trojan War and the rage of Achilles. Combining the skills of a poet and scholar, Robert Fagles brings the energy of contemporary language to this enduring heroic epic.


Topic: November: THE ILIAD (1 of 16), Read 43 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Sunday, November 03, 2002 04:22 PM Is anyone out there reading The Iliad? I got a slow start, but I intend to finish this one. Having read the Fagles version of The Odyssey, I am sure that his translation of The Iliad is also outstanding, but I chose to read Stanley Lombardo's translation. This is the version that my son read in his college English class, and he raved about it. Lombardo teaches at the University of Kansas where he goes to school. It is very idiomatic and so far I have not been disappointed. Ann
Topic: November: THE ILIAD (2 of 16), Read 41 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com Date: Sunday, November 03, 2002 05:00 PM I'm reading the Fagles translation, Ann. I'm way behind but will definitely be finishing it. I haven't had much sustained time for reading lately and this book deserves that. Barb
Topic: November: THE ILIAD (3 of 16), Read 39 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Joe Barreiro jbarreiro@ameritech.net Date: Sunday, November 03, 2002 07:46 PM I've only finished the introduction (the Fagles translation) last night, but I'm moving forward. I'll add that I found the introduction very worthwhile reading. Joe B
Topic: November: THE ILIAD (4 of 16), Read 41 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Sherry Keller shkell@starband.net Date: Sunday, November 03, 2002 10:23 PM I'm just about to start Book 4. I've only read a smidgen of the Introduction. I know I have to read it, though. Sherry
Topic: November: THE ILIAD (5 of 16), Read 42 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com Date: Sunday, November 03, 2002 10:52 PM I'm on Book Three now and read most of the introduction. It really does help keep the story a little straighter in my head. I normally don't read introductions until the end, but this time I needed the help. Also, the index at the back helps me with the character's names, particularly when they use two different ones for the same person. Glad to hear that I'm going to have some company on this journey. Why don't we go ahead and post as we're reading? I don't think we need to worry much about spoilers on this one. (-: Barb
Topic: November: THE ILIAD (6 of 16), Read 37 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Mark Englert granfalloon@webdelight.net Date: Monday, November 04, 2002 04:01 PM I read the Fagles translation this past May, so I doubt I will reread the whole. I'm just rereading a few books, like Achilles Fights the River and The Death of Hector. The only other tranlsation I've read, if I remember correctly, is Lattimore's. Mark
Topic: November: THE ILIAD (7 of 16), Read 34 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com Date: Monday, November 04, 2002 07:22 PM Mark, we'd love your input. I believe that Felix read it a while ago too, just after we read The Odyssey. Barb
Topic: November: THE ILIAD (8 of 16), Read 39 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Bob Markiewicz bobmark226@aol.com Date: Tuesday, November 05, 2002 02:21 PM Mark, it probably was the Lattimore, because that was the "standard" for so many years, and the one I think was most widely used in college classes for decades. Apropos of nothing, but a wee "Iliad" memory, as well as some personal Ancient History...I spent an absolutely miserable Sixties summer after I had failed to "make it" here in the city and moved back home. While I was deciding what to do next, I took a Greek classics course to kill time. The first part of the course was a study of the Iliad. The professor, a Mr. Martin, was an Englishman who loved the work and shared his unabashed affection for it. While we never got to move the class out under a tree, he would throw the windows open on a balmy summer morning, perch on the front of his desk and read it aloud to us in the mellifluous voice of a great Shakespearean actor. There isn't much else I care to remember about that summer, but I've carried an affection for the work, and fond memories of him, ever since. BOB
Topic: November: THE ILIAD (9 of 16), Read 33 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com Date: Tuesday, November 05, 2002 07:44 PM It's such a violent book. I love the thought of balmy summer mornings and a correct British voice reading about all this blood and gore. Of course, there's a lot of emphasis on incredible bodies as well.... Barb
Topic: November: THE ILIAD (10 of 16), Read 27 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Felix Miller mighty_marvell@bellsouth.net Date: Tuesday, November 05, 2002 08:33 PM I bought the Fagles translation some time back, probably that is what Barbara remembers me posting. I am finally getting into it now. My previous experience was with Lattimore. the Odyssey I read was by Fitzgerald. I now have that in the Fagles, as well. I first read the Iliad as a special assignment in ninth grade English. The teacher thought the assignment might inspire me. I am sorry to say that when I was required to speak to the class about the book, I played up the blood and gore for comic effect. Fourteen was not a good age for me. I have read it several times since, and silently apologized to Mr. Hall for my callowness. Felix Miller
Topic: November: THE ILIAD (11 of 16), Read 21 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com Date: Monday, November 11, 2002 07:24 AM What a great story, Felix! What 14 year old boy wouldn't play up the violence in the Iliad? And, what an assignment for a 14 year old boy! My son's prep school senior honors English class read The Odyssey but in prose. His teacher was well-known for expecting a lot of his students but only smiled when I suggested the Fagles translation of the poetry. I'm glad you are doing The Iliad with us now. My life has been intensely interfering with my reading but I will catch up. Barb
Topic: November: THE ILIAD (12 of 16), Read 17 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Jody Richael jodyrichael@cs.com Date: Monday, November 11, 2002 02:58 PM I'm glad I'm not the only one behind in reading this book. I was really looking forward to reading this for the first time. I have to say that I am somewhat disappointed with it. I'm sure some more education about it would help me appreciate it more. (I don't have the Fagles translation which sounds like it has more helpful information in the index and the introduction.) I don't have much patience for detailed descriptions of battles. The few non-combat scenes were interesting and it has been enlightening to learn more about the Greek Gods. Other than that, I am struggling to stay interested. I started War and Peace at the same time and finished it before making it even half way through the Iliad. Jody
Topic: November: THE ILIAD (13 of 16), Read 16 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Mark Englert granfalloon@webdelight.net Date: Monday, November 11, 2002 03:37 PM It took me about six weeks to finish The Iliad when I last read it. It really is a huge work. I was rarely bored with it, though, except during a few scenes like the long catologue of armies. The constant fighting always held may attention because I think the manner in which they fight (or in which the fights are described) is so revealing about the characters and culture. I've always found it thought provoking- -and I'm sure others have, too--that although media violence rouses such a furor these days, the most revered work in Western literature is still the most violent story ever recorded: spears ramming through jawbones, innards spilling onto dusty ground, rage rage rage! That reminds me--I had a literature professor who told the class that he read both The Iliad and The Odyssey to his young daughter as bedtime stories. When someone asked if he left out all the violent parts, he replied, "No, but I left out the part about Argos (Odysseus's dog) dying. It would have upset her too much." I've always thought that was a telling statemtent. Mark
Topic: November: THE ILIAD (14 of 16), Read 16 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Monday, November 11, 2002 04:55 PM My first reading was a decade ago at 40 not 14. I was amazed at the humanity of the characters. I was expecting that the rigidity of the poetical structure would get in the way of that but the humanity of the characters shines through and I was touched by the emotions. The poetical structure is evident even in prose translations where the rhythms and refrains can be felt but are never boring because of the ingenuity of the author in finding variations. This is a great story told well from the very beginning: the supplication of the Muse to sing through the performer of rage. The idea that the performer is an instrument for the Muse is brought out in Chapman's translation: Achilles' baneful wrath resound, O Godesse, that imposd Infinite sorrows on the Greekes, ... By the way, I think that the Muse in question would have been Calliope, the Muse of Epic Poetry. Who today cannot, even a little, sympathize with Achilles? How many of us have worked for a superior who, we felt, took the lion's share of the glory, while we did the hard work for little reward? Certainly, the stakes are greater for Achilles. They always were for demi-gods but life offers all of us a similar choice whether to "burn out" or "fade away." For simple humans, it remains an open question for most of our lives but for Achilles a deal was struck early in his life: he had chosen a short glorious life rather than a long, inglorious one. The gods seem to have broken their part of the bargain and Achilles implores his mother, the goddess Thetis, to set things straight. Thetis in turn implores Zeus who grants her request but it would later result in tragedy for Achilles as well as the Greeks. Then Thetis returns to her son. I imagine the perfect parabola of the dive which Thetis makes from the top of Olympus to the ocean her body piercing the surface of the water like a javelin. The bickering of the gods is amusing. I have mentioned how I felt that the poem conveys well the humanity of the characters. The humanity of the gods comes through as pettiness. The humanity of the mortals makes them godlike. The manipulations of Zeus and Agamemnon are interesting as each says the opposite of what he wants. It is also interesting that while Agamemnon would not accept the advice of his men about the release of Chryseis he does accept their advice about strategy. Mark, I, also, was very surprised at how graphic the battle scenes were. I was expecting more euphemistic descriptions. I didn't expect "tasting bronze" or "biting dust." I did, however, find some humor also. Before Calchas gives the reason for the plague he asks Achilles to protect him if he should offend a superior. I thought that this was another situation with which many of us could sympathize. Calchas was practicing "cover your ass" management. I also found the scene where Paris meets Menelaus in single combat very funny, in particular when Paris first sees Menelaus and tries to hide in the crowd. The Fitzgerald translation also provides one of the best insults I have ever read in literature. In Book 23, line 555, when Ajax and Idomeneus are arguing about the outcome of the chariot race in the funeral games of Patroclus. At one point, Idomeneus accuses Ajax of "having a mind like a hoof," which I took to mean "incapable of grasping." By the way, a milli-Helen is the amount of beauty required to launch one ship. Dean All roads lead to roam.
Topic: November: THE ILIAD (15 of 16), Read 16 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Felix Miller mighty_marvell@bellsouth.net Date: Monday, November 11, 2002 08:54 PM Quote: a milli-Helen is the amount of beauty required to launch one ship. Oh, that is wonderful, Dean. I need a laugh right now. Heh. The comments about the descriptions touches on the origins of this work in oral composition, I think. So many of the descriptions repeat earlier passages that to a modern ear they sound gratuitously repetitive. Some years ago, PBS presented "In Search of Troy" or some such title, a series of shows dealing with the effort to establish the historical roots of the Homeric epic. One of the more interesting segments dealt with the characteristics of a work being improvised by the performer/speaker. Stock descriptions are part of the tools of the Homeric bard. The repeated use of the same phrases provides a rhythmic structure to the story. One of my regrets about my approach to the Iliad is that I have no-zero-no knowledge of classic Greek. I only know Homer in translation. Even in translation the works are so absorbing and hypnotic that I wonder what they would be like if I truly knew and appreciated their original language. *sigh* Too little time, too many books and languages. Felix Miller
Topic: November: THE ILIAD (16 of 16), Read 13 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Mark Englert granfalloon@webdelight.net Date: Tuesday, November 12, 2002 02:09 AM A milli-Helen! ... oh my god, I need to write that one down. When I first read this in school, most everyone complained about the redundancy of phrases and descriptors (such as "wine-dark seas" in Fagles'). It wasn't until my second reading, when I was older, that I could appreciate the oral nature of Homer's work. It's really quite impressive to imagine the poet constructing the tale in front of an audience while sticking to such a rigid structure. The fact that many of the phrases are used repeatedly, like a palette of colors, is even more astonishing. It begs a comparison between storytelling and music: notes and words, chords and phrases, etc. Dean, I also saw Paris as a very comical character: the cowardly pretty- boy who woos women but wets his pants when confronted. I feel ambivalent towards Achilles, and probably always will. For me, his transgression is not his defiance of Agamemnon but his sadistic treatment of Hector's corpse. Mark
Conf: Classics Corner From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com Date: Monday, November 11, 2002 07:24 AM What a great story, Felix! What 14 year old boy wouldn't play up the violence in the Iliad? And, what an assignment for a 14 year old boy! My son's prep school senior honors English class read The Odyssey but in prose. His teacher was well-known for expecting a lot of his students but only smiled when I suggested the Fagles translation of the poetry. I'm glad you are doing The Iliad with us now. My life has been intensely interfering with my reading but I will catch up. Barb
Topic: November: THE ILIAD (12 of 16), Read 24 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Jody Richael jodyrichael@cs.com Date: Monday, November 11, 2002 02:58 PM I'm glad I'm not the only one behind in reading this book. I was really looking forward to reading this for the first time. I have to say that I am somewhat disappointed with it. I'm sure some more education about it would help me appreciate it more. (I don't have the Fagles translation which sounds like it has more helpful information in the index and the introduction.) I don't have much patience for detailed descriptions of battles. The few non-combat scenes were interesting and it has been enlightening to learn more about the Greek Gods. Other than that, I am struggling to stay interested. I started War and Peace at the same time and finished it before making it even half way through the Iliad. Jody
Topic: November: THE ILIAD (13 of 16), Read 24 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Mark Englert granfalloon@webdelight.net Date: Monday, November 11, 2002 03:37 PM It took me about six weeks to finish The Iliad when I last read it. It really is a huge work. I was rarely bored with it, though, except during a few scenes like the long catologue of armies. The constant fighting always held may attention because I think the manner in which they fight (or in which the fights are described) is so revealing about the characters and culture. I've always found it thought provoking- -and I'm sure others have, too--that although media violence rouses such a furor these days, the most revered work in Western literature is still the most violent story ever recorded: spears ramming through jawbones, innards spilling onto dusty ground, rage rage rage! That reminds me--I had a literature professor who told the class that he read both The Iliad and The Odyssey to his young daughter as bedtime stories. When someone asked if he left out all the violent parts, he replied, "No, but I left out the part about Argos (Odysseus's dog) dying. It would have upset her too much." I've always thought that was a telling statemtent. Mark
Topic: November: THE ILIAD (14 of 16), Read 24 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Monday, November 11, 2002 04:55 PM My first reading was a decade ago at 40 not 14. I was amazed at the humanity of the characters. I was expecting that the rigidity of the poetical structure would get in the way of that but the humanity of the characters shines through and I was touched by the emotions. The poetical structure is evident even in prose translations where the rhythms and refrains can be felt but are never boring because of the ingenuity of the author in finding variations. This is a great story told well from the very beginning: the supplication of the Muse to sing through the performer of rage. The idea that the performer is an instrument for the Muse is brought out in Chapman's translation: Achilles' baneful wrath resound, O Godesse, that imposd Infinite sorrows on the Greekes, ... By the way, I think that the Muse in question would have been Calliope, the Muse of Epic Poetry. Who today cannot, even a little, sympathize with Achilles? How many of us have worked for a superior who, we felt, took the lion's share of the glory, while we did the hard work for little reward? Certainly, the stakes are greater for Achilles. They always were for demi-gods but life offers all of us a similar choice whether to "burn out" or "fade away." For simple humans, it remains an open question for most of our lives but for Achilles a deal was struck early in his life: he had chosen a short glorious life rather than a long, inglorious one. The gods seem to have broken their part of the bargain and Achilles implores his mother, the goddess Thetis, to set things straight. Thetis in turn implores Zeus who grants her request but it would later result in tragedy for Achilles as well as the Greeks. Then Thetis returns to her son. I imagine the perfect parabola of the dive which Thetis makes from the top of Olympus to the ocean her body piercing the surface of the water like a javelin. The bickering of the gods is amusing. I have mentioned how I felt that the poem conveys well the humanity of the characters. The humanity of the gods comes through as pettiness. The humanity of the mortals makes them godlike. The manipulations of Zeus and Agamemnon are interesting as each says the opposite of what he wants. It is also interesting that while Agamemnon would not accept the advice of his men about the release of Chryseis he does accept their advice about strategy. Mark, I, also, was very surprised at how graphic the battle scenes were. I was expecting more euphemistic descriptions. I didn't expect "tasting bronze" or "biting dust." I did, however, find some humor also. Before Calchas gives the reason for the plague he asks Achilles to protect him if he should offend a superior. I thought that this was another situation with which many of us could sympathize. Calchas was practicing "cover your ass" management. I also found the scene where Paris meets Menelaus in single combat very funny, in particular when Paris first sees Menelaus and tries to hide in the crowd. The Fitzgerald translation also provides one of the best insults I have ever read in literature. In Book 23, line 555, when Ajax and Idomeneus are arguing about the outcome of the chariot race in the funeral games of Patroclus. At one point, Idomeneus accuses Ajax of "having a mind like a hoof," which I took to mean "incapable of grasping." By the way, a milli-Helen is the amount of beauty required to launch one ship. Dean All roads lead to roam.
Topic: November: THE ILIAD (15 of 16), Read 24 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Felix Miller mighty_marvell@bellsouth.net Date: Monday, November 11, 2002 08:54 PM Quote: a milli-Helen is the amount of beauty required to launch one ship. Oh, that is wonderful, Dean. I need a laugh right now. Heh. The comments about the descriptions touches on the origins of this work in oral composition, I think. So many of the descriptions repeat earlier passages that to a modern ear they sound gratuitously repetitive. Some years ago, PBS presented "In Search of Troy" or some such title, a series of shows dealing with the effort to establish the historical roots of the Homeric epic. One of the more interesting segments dealt with the characteristics of a work being improvised by the performer/speaker. Stock descriptions are part of the tools of the Homeric bard. The repeated use of the same phrases provides a rhythmic structure to the story. One of my regrets about my approach to the Iliad is that I have no-zero-no knowledge of classic Greek. I only know Homer in translation. Even in translation the works are so absorbing and hypnotic that I wonder what they would be like if I truly knew and appreciated their original language. *sigh* Too little time, too many books and languages. Felix Miller
Conf: Classics Corner From: Mark Englert granfalloon@webdelight.net Date: Tuesday, November 12, 2002 02:09 AM A milli-Helen! ... oh my god, I need to write that one down. When I first read this in school, most everyone complained about the redundancy of phrases and descriptors (such as "wine-dark seas" in Fagles'). It wasn't until my second reading, when I was older, that I could appreciate the oral nature of Homer's work. It's really quite impressive to imagine the poet constructing the tale in front of an audience while sticking to such a rigid structure. The fact that many of the phrases are used repeatedly, like a palette of colors, is even more astonishing. It begs a comparison between storytelling and music: notes and words, chords and phrases, etc. Dean, I also saw Paris as a very comical character: the cowardly pretty- boy who woos women but wets his pants when confronted. I feel ambivalent towards Achilles, and probably always will. For me, his transgression is not his defiance of Agamemnon but his sadistic treatment of Hector's corpse. Mark
From: Mary Ellen Burns smeburns@yahoo.com Date: Thursday, November 14, 2002 04:07 PM Mark: I wholly agree with you about Achilles. I read The Iliad in college--a long time ago!--but the image of Hector's corpse being dragged outside the walls of the city is still very vivid for me. I was definitely not pro-Achilles. Mary Ellen
Topic: November: THE ILIAD (18 of 21), Read 20 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Thursday, November 14, 2002 07:38 PM Are you intimating that Achilles was a heel? Ruth
Topic: November: THE ILIAD (19 of 21), Read 22 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Pres Lancaster plancast@neteze.com Date: Thursday, November 14, 2002 07:48 PM RUTH !!! GO TO YOUR ROOM ! pres, and you can't say I'm hectoring you.
Topic: November: THE ILIAD (20 of 21), Read 23 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Friday, November 15, 2002 01:32 AM The actions of Achilles are especially hurtful because we are shown that Hector is a loving and devoted husband and father. He is also one of the few people in Troy to treat Helen with respect, even kindness, and not bear hear her a grudge. The Trojans in general struck me as more sympathetic than the Achaeans and I felt sorry that they lost. This was another aspect of the book which surprised me. Dean All roads lead to roam.
From: Pres Lancaster plancast@neteze.com Date: Friday, November 15, 2002 02:08 PM "The most famous rage attack of all time was staged by Achilles, who threatened to sit out the Trojan War over a woman . . ." From an NYT Science article, 11/12/02, Beyond Anger, Studying the Subconscious Nature of Rage. About individuals prone to "uncontrollable" rages. pres
From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com Date: Friday, November 29, 2002 08:33 AM Oh good, Ann. I've decided that it's going to be reserved for the periods of time that I can get some extended focus (as opposed to just before I go to sleep, etc.) I got a chance to do that yesterday morning and am now on Book 8. In the process, I got to read this delicious little section when Hector finally persuades Paris (who started all this mess in the first place, for heaven sakes!) to go out and fight: Nor did Paris linger long in his vaulted halls. Soon as he buckled on his elegant gleaming bronze he rushed through Troy, sure in his racing stride. As a stallion full-fed at the manger, stalled too long, breaking free of his tether gallops down the plain, out for his favorite plunge in a river's cool currents, thundering in his pride--his head flung back, his mane streaming over his shoulders, sure and sleek in his glory, knees racing him on to the fields and stallion-haunts he loves-- so down from Pergamus heights came Paris, son of Priam, glittering in his armor like the sun astride the skies, exultant, laughing aloud, his fast feet sped him on. Quickly he overtook his brother, noble Hector still lingering, slow to turn from the spot where he had just confided in his wife... Magnificent Paris spoke first: "Dear brother, look at me, holding you back in all your speed-- dragging my feet, coming to you so late, and you told me to be quick!" A flash of his helmet as Hector shot back, "Impossible man! How could anyone fair and just underrate your work in battle? You're a good soldier. But you hang back of your own accord, refuse to fight. And, that, that's why the heart inside me aches when I hear our Trojans heap contempt on you, the men who bear such struggles all for you. Come, now for attack! We'll set all this to rights, someday, if Zeus will ever let us raise the winebowl of freedom high in our halls, high to the gods of cloud and sky who live forever-- once we drive these Argives geared for battle out of Troy!" Now, this is all very macho, but irresistable, I think. I love these images of the brothers and I'm beginning to particularly like Hector. Paris is a bit of a pain in the neck, of course. I also am becoming a bit hooked on these gods who watch these battles like their own interactive TV shows. And, of course, they get to swoop in and sleep with some of the characters occasionally. Barb
From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Friday, November 29, 2002 01:40 PM Barb, Here is that same passage from the Stanley Lombardo translation. What do you think> (end of Book 6) Paris meanwhile Did not dally long in his high halls He put on his magnificent bronze-inlaid gear And sprinted with assurance out through the city. Picture a horse that has fed on barley in his stall Breaking his halter and galloping across the plain, Making for his accustomed swim in the river, A glorious animal, head held high, mane streaming Like wind on his shoulders. Sure of his splendor He prances by the horse-runs and the mares in pasture. That was how Paris, son of Priam, came down From the high rock of Pergamum, Gleaming like amber and laughing in his armor, And his feet were fast. He caught up quickly With Hector just as he turned from the spot Where he'd talked with his wife, and called out: "Well, dear brother, have I delayed you too much? Am I not here in time, just as you asked?" Hector turned, his helmet flashing light: "I don't understand you, Paris. No one could slight your work in battle. You're a strong fighter, but you slack off--- You don't have the will. It breaks my heart To hear what the Trojans say about you. It's on your account they have all this trouble. Come on, let's go. We can settle this later, If Zeus ever allows us to offer in our halls The wine bowl of freedom to the gods above, After we drive these bronze-kneed Greeks from Troy." Apparently, that Paris was quite a hunk. I like Hector too. From a modern perspective, at least, he seems to be the real hero of this epic. He certainly acts in a more "mature" way than the other contenders. Ann
From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Friday, November 29, 2002 01:47 PM I also think this world view of gods who played with men and manipulated their lives for their own amusement shows just how different we are in many ways from the ancient Greeks. Modern Americans cherish an illusion of complete independence. The Greeks, on the other hand, saw themselves as prisoners of a fate determined by these powerful beings whom they could only hope to propitiate. I suppose the advances that humans have made in controlling large parts of their environment explains this change in attitude.
From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com Date: Friday, November 29, 2002 02:23 PM Wow, Ann, what a difference in that translation. The meaning is similar, but different in subtle ways. And, I like the flow and the language in the Fagles translation much more. It just seems fuller to me, less stilted. What do you think? I want Ruth to look at this too, from a poetic standpoint. I like your observations about the differences in contemporary and ancient perceptions of gods. When Zeus is pictured sending down thunder and they all just know what message he is sending them, it seems so neatly wrapped up. It made me think of all the people I know who don't like shades of gray in meaning, but want either black or white. Barb
From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Friday, November 29, 2002 07:24 PM I like the Fagles version better too, Barb. I think it is much more musical and poetic. My older son really enjoyed the Lombardo version, which does have some pretty impressive blurbs on the cover: From Daniel Mendelsohn, The New York Times Book Review: "Gripping ...respectful of Homer's dire spirit while providing on nearly every page some wonderful fresh refashioning of his Greek. A vivid and sometimes disarmingly hardbitten reworking of a great classic." From Richard Martin, Professor of Classics, Princeton: "It is hard to overstate the attractions of this translation...Lombardo's Iliad pulses with all the power and luminosity of the Greek. He shows extraordinary sensitivity to the images and aural effects of the ancient poem. There are brilliant touches on every page...The narrator's voice sounds contemporary without losing authority or resonance, while his heroes from an archaic time speak a racy, hard-bitten idiom completely recognizable to our own Iron Age. Altogether this is as good as Homer gets in English." etc., etc. Lombardo is a Greek scholar. I have no way of knowing how close his translation is to the original, but the professors quoted on the back cover tout his accuracy. His translation is very easy to read, but occasionally it is so idiomatic I find it a bit jarring. For example: Book 3, line 258: "You pansy archers, you're a disgrace to Greece." Or Book 3, line 45: "Paris, you desperate, womanizing pretty boy! I wish you have never been born or had died unmarried. Better that than this disgrace before the troops. Can't you just hear it, the long-haired Greeks chuckling and saying that our champion wins for good looks but comes up short on offense and defense." Ann
From: Ernest Belden Date: Saturday, November 30, 2002 10:59 AM Now that I am ready to continue my CC reading I noted that we don't seem to have the large number of previous posting. That's OK except that I am concerned that I may repeat what other readers have already said. I was very much surprised how easy it is to read the Iliad though I did look up a few things in a commentary. I never expected that it would be a delight to read how the Greeks at the time lived and how they looked at life. Their relations to the gods, their idea about wars, fate and a thousand other things are so very different from our present civilization and views of the world. At one point I was amazed at their tolerance to someone who disagreed with the leaders and did not want to fight. They all looked down on him, they did not execute him. The intervention of the gods to rescue their favorites or kill off those they did not like was shocking. (Gods are not supposed to do such things. They should rule in silence and be impartial or so I always thought). Another shocker was the way people and gods produced children. Did Zeus have a daughter for his wife, or am I mistaken. But that would be shocking indeed and would never be published in civilized countries. But almost more shocking are gods that get hit by the combatants. Of course they are immortal, but their blood is draining, they need to see the godly doctor who attends to their wounds. Plunder and lovely girls were the object of their wars except perhaps when they defended their possessions. Some of the people stood out as heroic, loyal, fiendish, likeable and the opposite. Attempts to influence Zeus so he would change his mind or let something get by also appears strange in this day and age. There are more of these strange goings on in the Iliad I can't think of at the moment or have not read yet but what an interesting choice the Iliad turned out to be. The presentation of the work keeps me going and interested. I really think it has a lot to do with the original text and less with the skill of the translator.- Well there is more to be said and I do hope I won't be the last one to post on it. Ernie
Conf: The Iliad From: Mark Englert Date: Saturday, November 30, 2002 11:01 AM One of the most bewildering aspects of The Iliad for me is the disparity between the struggles of the and gods and those of men. The gods have what is basically an extended family feud taking place against an enormous backdrop of human carnage. The Trojans and Achaens are fighting savagely, with so much at stake, and all the while the gods more or less bicker, which of course heavily influences the course of the war.The irony seems more and more profound every time I think about this. Mark
From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Saturday, November 30, 2002 11:27 AM Ernie and Mark, I think one of the things that we find most odd about the Greek and Roman civilizations is that, even though they were advanced in ways that were not again equaled for centuries, their religions had no ethical content. When we were reading I, CLAUDIUS on CC, I listened to the Teaching Company lectures on Roman history. The lecturer emphasized that the ancients believed that the primary role of religion was the performance of sacrifices and rituals in order to propitiate the gods so that you could retain their favor. The gods were easily offended, so this was a rather difficult task. It was decidedly not the role of religion to teach morals. In fact, far from serving as any kind of model for ethical behavior, the gods and goddesses in The Iliad seem like a bunch of rowdy teenagers, indulging their every whim and tattling about their relatives to Zeus whenever one of them interfered with their plans. Ann
From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com Date: Saturday, November 30, 2002 04:00 PM I'm chuckling here, Ann, imagining how my sons would have reacted to the use of "offense and defense". And, the "pansy archers" one is priceless too. I can see why a teenager would like it. However, I'm a bit surprised at the other quoted reviews. What a difference there is in translations! It's been one of the many nuances about reading that I've discovered from Classics Corner. Ernie, what translation are you reading? I've been using the index in the back of my Fagles translation to keep the characters straight. It helped a lot in the beginning, especially when there are multiple names for the same person. And, Ann, thanks for posting that information from the lecture series. I've seen those advertised. Do you find them worthwhile? Barb
From: Ernest Belden drernest@pacbell.net Date: Saturday, November 30, 2002 05:32 PM Ann, Barb, I am reading the Robert Fitzgerald translation and Malcolm Willcock A Companion to the Iliad. Your characterization of the gods as behaving like a bunch of wild teen agers (made me laugh) but is true. The most important thing is that the gods don't set moral standards. The Judean-Christian tradition sure does the opposite. I don't know a thing about the Oriental Religions but believe they also have behavioral guide lines and standards for humans. I am trying to remember what the Romans had to say at this point. I believe you made sacrifices to whatever gods they were praying to. But did their gods fight participate in their wars, try to influence each other and descend to earth to kill or rescue? Your observations are key points of Greek religion. Ernie
From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Saturday, November 30, 2002 10:12 PM Barb, The quotations about the "pansy archers" and "Paris, you desperate, womanizing pretty boy!" are pretty extreme examples from Lombardo's translation. For the most part, his translation is much more conventional. I found an interesting interview with Lombardo at http://jacketmagazine.com/21/leddy-lomb-iv.html This is the address of the Jacket, which is an online literary magazine. He was interviewed by Michael Leddy, a professor of English. Here is part of the discussion regarding the translation: Leddy: Your Iliad and Odyssey have met with great praise from classicists. But they’re also ‘controversial’ — a characterization that seems to come only from Greekless readers. What expectations are such readers bringing to Homer? Lombardo: That because it’s a classical work, it should sound like Elizabethan English, or at least have some element of archaic diction — I think those are the expectations. I suspect that these expectations come, ultimately, from the King James Version of the Bible, and from Shakespeare. If Milton were read more, I would blame Milton. I don’t know of any classicist who has said anything negative about my translations. I’m sure there are some who don’t like them, but they’ve never said anything in public [laughs]. I think you’re right, that it’s Greekless readers who see them as controversial. Their only basis for comparison is other translations, which except for Fitzgerald and maybe T.E. Shaw, do have some of that archaic quality. So they think that must be the way Homer is. But for Homer’s audience, there’s no doubt that the poetry was an immediate, direct, vital experience, or it wouldn’t have survived, much less had the reputation that it had. Although Lombardo tries to use everyday, albeit poetic, speech to translate Homer, he admits that Homer himself used a kind of specialized poetic dialect to write the poem. Go figure. For me, Lombardo's version has a strong dramatic impact (except for those instances when he goes too far and incorporates slang into his translation), but Fagles writes better poetry. Lombardo does dramatic readings of Homer and a theater group staged his version of the Iliad at the Lincoln Center a year or two ago. Ann
From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Saturday, November 30, 2002 10:17 PM Ernie, As I understand it, the Romans pretty much borrowed their gods and myths from the Greeks. The Roman gods are really the Greek gods with Latin names. The Judeo-Christian tradition has a very strong moral content, as does Islam, Confucianism (which is not exactly a religion), and - I think - Buddhism. Of course, these religions were all developed considerably after the religion of Homer's Iliad. Barb, The Teaching Company has wonderful lecture series. I have listened to the ones on Roman history, the history of the English language, and the tapes on Christianity and Islam. I am fortunate that a fellow teacher buys them and lends them out to her friends for free. Sherry also listens to them. Ann
From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com Date: Sunday, December 01, 2002 08:44 AM Ann, I can't get your link to the interview to work. Can you check it again? I saw an ad for The Teaching Company lecture series in the Atlantic and was intrigued. I'm going to see if any of my libraries carry them and, if not, encourage them to buy them. Lombardi makes excellent points about his translation. From what I've read, these were definitely stories for the masses, like our TV shows that get good ratings. And, I think that your son's school made a good choice for teenagers, the language is very accessible. However, like you, I like Fagles poetry. I can certainly see the argument that gets set up here though. Do you want Homer in the original tradition? Or, do you want Homer in poetry that lifts your soul? And, of course, then you have all the internal arguments about what exactly the original tradition is, etc. etc. Barb
From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Sunday, December 01, 2002 11:02 AM Barb, Let me try that again. I had an extra period in the address. Here is the interview link again: http://jacketmagazine.com/21/leddy-lomb-iv.html The University of Kansas didn't have much trouble choosing the Lombardo text. Lombardo has been teaching there since 1976. He sounds like a pretty dynamic guy who does a lot of dramatic readings around the country. Here is a link of him reading the Iliad in ancient Greek: http://wiredforbooks.org/iliad/ Ann
From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com Date: Sunday, December 01, 2002 04:18 PM Is only the one page available on the internet, Ann? It says that the article is 16 printed pages long, but I can only access the one page. Homer speaking "mind to mind" and not "dictionary to dictionary" is an interesting quote. But, I wonder how you can avoid making the dictionary a major ingredient in translation. Barb
From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Sunday, December 01, 2002 05:53 PM Barb, I think if you use page down, you get the entire article. It would be 16 printed pages. Ann
From: Edward Houghton eddh@pacbell.net Date: Monday, December 02, 2002 04:25 AM ANN A couple of comments: Lombardo mentions other translators, one of these was T.E. Shaw. T.E. Shaw was a pseudonym used by T.E. Lawrence (of Lawrence of Arabia fame). Lawrence was friendly with George Bernard Shaw and his wife and used the name with their blessing. Lawrence only translated THE ODYSSEY. He didn't particularly like THE ILIAD and didn't go for a translation of that one. His liking of THE ODYSSEY was predicated on Odysseus as a fellow soldier. Lawrence felt a kinship. Lawrence's ODYSSEY is favorably mentioned elsewhere; BY Shelby Foote for one. I am surprised that Lombardo uses Shaw as a reference, when it is well known that T.E. Lawrence is the real translator. My version has Lawrence listed as the translator. Regarding the gods directing the mischief: I see the gods as foot-notes to history. Their doings are added by the story tellers and apologists, trying to minimize earthly mistakes by their own heroes and maximizing godly intervention when the opposition prevailed. And the gods are the best way to explain the awful laws of chance and coincidence and mis-steps of the all too real human beings. I think there were not a whole lot of religious zealots in the Greek days. Except, of course, for the shithead who sacrificed his daughter for the impending battle with Troy. Of course there are always some, but I think they did a live and let live thing rather than a lot of proselyting. I'm not sure the Greeks ever had a unified religion. Mainly they incorporated the gods of those they conquered or merged religions of equals. This makes the Greeks a truly democratic people, since they didn't force their beliefs on another people, but absorbed their religion. I think the first instance of a Greek defying the gods is Odysseus. Of course he paid a price, but weren't his travels a prelude to ignoring the gods. As a further aside, there is a fine novel on the Trojan War from the view-point of Cassandra. Written by Marion Zimmer Bradley: FIREBRAND. A good read after THE ILIAD. EDD
From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Monday, December 02, 2002 07:10 PM Edd, Good point about Lombardo not acknowledging T.E. Lawrence as the translator. That is a real slipup. Also, that's a good observation that the gods provided convenient scapegoats whenever things didn't go the right way - kind of like "the devil made me do it." They are mentioned so often in the Iliad, however, that it seems like the participants had very little free will. I think that fatalistic mindset was perhaps typical of the culture. It does seem that only later religions, like Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism to name a few, developed that crusading, exclusive quality that seemed to require that competing religions be destroyed. Even so, for much of its history, Islam was much more tolerant that the Christian groups. Maybe the Greeks got one thing right about religion. Ann
From: Candy Minx candyminx@hotmail.com Date: Tuesday, December 03, 2002 11:09 AM I am slowly catching up on my reading of The Iliad. I have really enjoyed reading this thread...even though I am so far behind. I found both the sections with two trnslations very enjoyable for different reasons. I kind of imagine that there is something healthy and positive about both versions and the very act of translations seems to be another form of "oral tradition" to me. An oral tradition is a growing organic being in itself...and so the translations seem to be part of that process... I really enjoyed what Dean and Mark and Ann were saying about the gods attitudes and the humans attitudes...much to think about... still reading...slow slow slow...but enjoying it this time around for very different reasons than previous reads...and I love the battle scenes. I also enjoy the "repetitiveness" it is incantatory for me. I also see it as part of a tool for memorizing the story and retaining details of the story...I feel reading this as if I am being put into a trance, or someone has slipped something into my drink... slowpoke, Candy
From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Tuesday, December 03, 2002 11:10 AM I’m fascinated by the role which the gods played within the individual. From the opening line the gods are given credit for personal accomplishment. “… - Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus’s son Achilles, …” The intervention of the Muse, Calliope, is sought again before the difficult passages listing the captains of the various groups united under Agamemnon. When Achilles is about to draw his sword on Agamemnon, Athena, sent by Hera, moves Achilles to desist and she prevents bloodshed (Fagle Book I, lines 222-259). Although, Achilles takes this intervention as a command, Athena’s words are more cautionary and hopeful than imperative. Achilles chooses to take her advice. It wasn’t so much “the devil made me do it” as “the god inspired it.” The skill of Odysseus in strategy and guile is attributed to a close relationship with Athena. It is as if the Greeks were in such awe of human accomplishments that they felt that only a god could have been the source of it. At the same time, Greek stories speak of a strong link between humans and animals to the point where there is little separation between the two. Another distinction between Greeks and us is that the Greeks did not see the future as something coming at them from the front as is our conventional view. Rather, they saw the future as something which overtook them from behind. This is evident in all the stories (e.g., Oedipus, Perseus) in which a character tries to escape his fate and is eventually overtaken by it. Dean All roads lead to roam.
From: Candy Minx candyminx@hotmail.com Date: Tuesday, December 03, 2002 11:17 AM About the religion...Dean you made a good point here about the relation between humans and animals. Outside of Buddhism, the religions of Islam and Judeo-Christian do not have a strong relationship with animals...or perhaps that animals have quite a different kind of "role" in the religions of Islam and Judeo-Christian...??? The spiritual life of other formats of spirituality in the world seem to have a relationship or spirit familiar with animals as reflections or siblings to humans in aboriginal spiritualism and the Buddhist religion...and the Greek philosophy and stories...
From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com Date: Thursday, December 05, 2002 06:38 PM Thoughtful notes, everyone. I'm particularly struck by this notion of the future overtaking the Greeks from behind in the form of fate, Dean. I've never thought of fate like that. Barb
From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Friday, December 06, 2002 01:37 AM The Greek view of fate is amazing to me, too. Even though a modern person might agree with the Greeks that fate is set before birth, the modern person still prefers to see it as an event coming at us, perhaps with the implication that we can jump out of the way before it hits us. For the modern person, fate must contend with will. For the Greeks, fate was an arrow fired at their backs and even when they knew it was coming there was no way to know when to step aside and avoid it. However, dodge and dive they did but to no avail. Dean All roads lead to roam.
From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com Date: Friday, December 06, 2002 07:28 AM And, then would come the greatest puzzle of all, figuring out what the fate was that was pursuing you before it happened. It must've been oddly comforting in the end though, that there was nothing you could have done to impact it. I can certainly see some aspects of human nature finding that appealing. Personally, I would find it almost claustrophobic. Barb
From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Friday, December 06, 2002 09:07 AM Yes, but, in their stories at least, the Greeks did not use fate to avoid personal responsibility. Oedipus punishes himself for what he had done. That is amazing. Dean All roads lead to roam.
From: Candy Minx candyminx@hotmail.com Date: Saturday, December 07, 2002 04:34 PM (p.s. a real side note...I am interested in the mention of fates here...and I think of "fate" and I think of stars. To my thinking...this story is so so old...Felix mentioned a PBS program he watched:about the origins of this...and in many ways I tend to look at Iliad as another example of the gods being in the stars/heavens and to take it somewhat literally as another example of preliterate knowledge of astronomy. I'd like to see a study work on the archeoastronomical aspects of this epic...I believe that is related to why they saw the fates as coming up on them...because these gods and conflicts are a metaphor for astronomical events....)
From: Jim Heath jheath26@attbi.com Date: Sunday, December 08, 2002 12:27 PM Like many of you I read the Lattimore translation in college and came away with one thought: The Iliad makes Clint Eastwood look like a choir boy. The Fagles translation adds a little more depth to the story for me. Someone once said that Lattimore wrote one of the few English translations that remains in the original Greek. My favorite sections in Fagles are the descriptive passages which touch on the flavor between battles like the opening of Book 10: "So by the ships the other lords of Achaea's armies slept all night long, overcome by gentle sleep ... But not the great field marshal Agamemnon -- the sweet embrace of sleep could not hold him: his mind kept churning, seething. Like Zeus's bolts when the lord of bright-haired Hera flashes lightning, threatening to loose torrential rain or pelting hail or snow when a blizzard drifts on fields -- or driving on, somewhere on earth, the giant jaws of rending war -- so thick-and-fast the groans came from Atrides, wrenching his chest, heaving up from his heart and rocked his very spirit to the core. Now as he scanned across the Trojan plain Agamemnon marveled in horror at those fires, a thousand fires blazing against the wall of Troy, and the shrill pipes and flutes and low roar of men." Maybe being a bad sleeper myself, I feel a sense of kinship here. -- Jim in Oregon
Topic: ILIAD (56 of 60), Read 26 times Conf: The Iliad From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com Date: Sunday, December 08, 2002 03:58 PM Fagles really does paint the picture, doesn't he, Jim? I can feel the tension. And, I love that quote about the Lattimore translation. Good to see you back here, by the way. Barb
Topic: ILIAD (57 of 60), Read 24 times Conf: The Iliad From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com Date: Sunday, December 08, 2002 04:01 PM And, Martin is looking for more men to post on the Poetry topic, Jim. Why don't you do him (and us) a favor and give us a reaction to the current poem, If Love Means Exploration? Barb
Topic: ILIAD (58 of 60), Read 26 times Conf: The Iliad From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Sunday, December 08, 2002 04:02 PM Jim, That is a beautiful passage. Do you by any chance have the Lattimore translation handy? I would really be curious to see how he translated that section. Ann
Topic: ILIAD (59 of 60), Read 25 times Conf: The Iliad From: Candy Minx candyminx@hotmail.com Date: Sunday, December 08, 2002 04:19 PM Jim said: "The Fagles translation adds a little more depth to the story for me. Someone once said that Lattimore wrote one of the few English translations that remains in the original Greek." That is one cool quote.
From: Jim Heath jheath26@attbi.com Date: Monday, December 09, 2002 08:17 AM From Lattimore: "Now beside their ships the other great men of the Achaians slept night long, with the soft bondage of slumber upon them; but the son of Atreus, Agamemnon, shepherd of the people, was held by no sweet sleep as he pondered deeply within him. As when the lord of Hera the lovely-haired flashes his lightning as he brings on a great rainstorm, or a hail incessant, or a blizzard, at such time when the snowfall scatters on ploughlands, or drives on somewhere on earth the huge edge of tearing battle, such was Agamemnon, with the beating turmoil in his bosom from the deep heart, and all his wits were shaken within him. Now he would gaze across the plain to the Trojan camp, wondering at the number of their fires that were burning in front of Ilion, toward the high calls of their flutes and pipes, the murmur of people." Still a good passage, but with more of an archeological feel to my taste. -- Jim in Oregon
Conf: The Iliad From: William Hayes whayes43@hotmail.com Date: Saturday, December 28, 2002 02:32 PM I've enjoyed reading this thread, especially the posts by those of you struggling to understand the ethic underlying this ancient story. Since the posting has taken a holiday (last on Dec 09) and no one else has referenced it, allow me to recommend the wonderfully helpful Vengeance, Rage and Reconciliation: Homer and an Ancient Greek Perspective by John D. B. Hamilton, available at the following site: http://www.holycross.edu/departments/crec/forgiveness/hamilton.pdf Hamilton's brief paper (a scant 6 PDF pages) includes a reference to the even more wonderful work On the Iliad by Rachel Bespaloff, which comes as close as anything can to being a substitute for Iliad itself. I am not embarrassed to admit that I actually read Bespaloff's commentary before Homer's narrative.
From: Candy Minx candyminx@hotmail.com Date: Sunday, December 29, 2002 05:21 AM Jim, thanks so much for more Lattimore/Iliad quotes. Really have enjoyed them, as I think the translation I have is kinda dull. Jim wrote: Still a good passage, but with more of an archeological feel to my taste. I agree with you Jim that this has an archeological feel to it. Somehow...thats exactly what haunts me. I am attracted to the entire story because it works on a feeling level...on a moral level...and on a fact transmitting level:archeological...or more likely astronomical level. I feel the plot is built upon an astronomical matrix. But then I believe since most myths talk about gods residing in the sky/stars/heavens that the myths mean that LITERALLY. The gods are ways to track the stars. Blah blah blah... William, I am intrigued also...by your link, and the essay...thank you...will check them out...
From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com Date: Monday, December 30, 2002 07:51 AM Wiliam, thank you for the link. I seem to be having trouble accessing it right now but am going to try again later. I'm having my usual trouble with The Iliad...time. I want to read The Master and Margarita before the Classics Corner discussion of it and, of course, there is The Corrections for the Reading List. I shall return however!! Barb

 

 
 

 
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