Starting the Iliad

Homer, The Iliad (Translated by Robert Fagles, with notes and an introduction by Bernard Knox, ©1990, Penguin 1998)

It’s more than a week since I finished reading The Prelude, and I’m already missing reading a couple of pages from a classic text first thing every morning. I’ve decided to take on Homer’s Iliad, which definitely fits the definition of a classic as a book that you can’t read for the first time. My copy of Robert Fagles’s translation was a Christmas gift a while back and has been begging for attention from my sagging To Be Read shelf ever since.

This is my first crack at the actual Iliad, but I have read many fragments, versions and variations of it. Here’s a list of the ones I remember:

  • Kingsley’s Heroes, the Argonauts Club and the Queensland School Readers – from my parents, the ABC and primary school respectively – all told stories of Achilles, and almost certainly some parts of the Iliad
  • The Classics Illustrated comic some time in the 1950s
  • Book 2 of The Aeneid, Virgil’s account of the fall of Troy, which I studied in high school
  • Alice Oswald’s Memorial, subtitled ‘an excavation of The Iliad‘, which presents only the deaths from Homer’s poem (here’s a link to my blog post)
  • The 28 minute version in Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics (link to the podcast)
  • Pat Barker’s Silence of the Girls, which tells the story from the point of view of a captured woman (link to my blog post)
  • David Malouf’s Ransom, which I’m pretty sure I haven’t read, but I feel as if I know it intimately from reading and hearing about it.

I made a start on it this morning. So far I’ve read the translator’s note and I’m part way through the learned Introduction by Bernard Knox. Getting excited already. I’ll report back in a month.

11 responses to “Starting the Iliad

  1. Hooray! The Iliad. Looking forward to reading your first dispatch.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. kathyprokhovnik

    Great choice! I look forward to your posts. After that you might like to read The Odyssey translated by Emily Watson – a revelation to read a translation by a woman.

    Like

  3. Enjoy the journey!

    Like

  4. Lucky you! The Iliad is fantastic, and so are Ransom by David Malouf, which I translated into Swedish and had to read absolutely everything I could find connected even remotely to that old epic, and that’s how I came upon Memorial by Alice Oswald, which I’d like to translate, but it might be too big a challenge.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The iliad is fantastic!
    I would recommd that you read Stephen Mitchell’s introduction to the Iliad as well! It made me really appreciate the book!

    Like

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