Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Readalong: The Iliad by Homer Post 1

I am participating in the readalong hosted by A Literary Odyssey for The Iliad by Homer. I had tried to read this book once before during my freshman year of college, but I ended up dropping the class that was using this book, so I never made it past the first few pages... the book completely daunted me then.

The Iliad is about the ten year Trojan War. The Trojan War was fought between the Achaeans and the Trojans in Ancient Greece. The Iliad starts in the ninth year of the ten year war. This battle started over the famed Helen of Troy. Paris, a Trojan, stole Helen from Menelaus, an Achaean, which is the cited reason for the Achaeans going to war with the Trojans. I think it is important to know this context before starting the book since it is an epic poem and not a narrative. There is very little explanation for the readers.

One thing I found most interesting with The Iliad is the history and origin of the story. The alleged author of The Iliad, Homer, was a possible blind and/or illiterate story teller/bard. Very little definitive information is known about him or even if he wrote the entire version of The Iliad or merely compiled well-known stories to form his epic poem. There are also Shakespeare-like ideas where some people don't think Homer was the author, or authors, of The Iliad.

I am reading the translation by Robert Fagles, which I am really enjoying. While the story is a poem, the language is still accessible enough for me to read it as an enjoyable story. I like that there also feels like there is a certain cadence to the writing, which makes it easy to imagine how it would sound like if the story was being told aloud.

Overall, I am halfway through this poem and I love the epic battles and the tempers of the men. My favorite parts, though, are the gods. They interfere so much with the course of the battles and each god has their own favorite mortal to protect. The involvement of the gods makes the battle seem even larger and more grandiose.

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