If you are looking for the best translation of Homer’s The Iliad, then look no further. Fitzgerald’s succinct, yet informative, translation is as close to the original 2700-year-old presentation you can get without taking ancient Greek lessons. Take my advice: steer clear of those verbose, lengthy, and particularly misleading prose translations of literature’s greatest charm.
The Iliad was created as an epic poem – and that is how it should be experienced, not as the modern format of the novel. Fitzgerald’s verse translation flows, it captivates, in fact it transports you to the towers of Ilium, and the aura of Achilles, literature’s greatest warrior.
So, exactly what is The Iliad all about? The very first lines of the poem can answer this question – in part:
“Anger be now your song, immortal one,
Achilles’ anger, doomed and ruinous,
that caused the Achaean’s (Greek’s) loss on bitter loss” (I.1-3)
The Iliad is the story of Achilles, the “almost immortal” Greek hero of the Trojan war, and his anger at being slighted by his own ally General – Agamemnon. This results with literature’s infamous temper tantrum. Achilles the great warrior sulks, refusing to fight, which in turn causes many Greek deaths. Now, if you’re thinking that “all this Greek/Trojan war stuff sounds a bit tough, I’ll forget about buying this book”, and you’re just about to select BACK on your browser… then WAIT a minute! The whole Trojan war thing can be simply summed up in one sentence – The Greek princess Helen is stolen from her husband by the Trojan prince Paris and taken to his Troy, all the Greeks say “Oi! You can’t do that!” and nine years down the line Achilles, Agamemnon and cuckolded Menelaus are still pounding away at Troy’s (Ilium’s) walls. There we are – not so tough, is it?
But The Iliad is far more than a study of an invincible warrior: it is the story of a young man’s expatiation: a growth into maturity, or, if you like: a reparation of a character. Through Achilles’ initial childish reactions he gradually begins to realise the error of his ways, which culminates with the death of his beloved Patroclus. It is the story of a man that loses everything which he holds dear, and yet gains one of humanity’s greatest abilities: the act of compassion. Achilles gains a heart.
What we can discover in this character’s reformation is similar to Shakespeare’s King Lear – a monarch who proudly and foolishly relies upon his loved ones, losing them in return, and reduced to a mere man: decrepit, and yet reborn a better man, by learning the art of compassion to the likes of a homeless beggar.
Shakespeare’s Lear and Homer’s Achilles attain noble virtues that are sorely needed to redeem both protagonists’ foolish actions at the beginning of their respective pieces of literature.
If it is your wish to experience the pure magic of literature’s brightest gem, then trust me – click Add To Basket now! If this would be your first epic poem to read … then all the better, because Homer is the measure of all epic poetry. If you resent the…price tag in comparison to the one pound classic’s – then bear in mind this: if you are a lover of classic literature of all ages, then this could well be the best… (money)… you will ever spend.
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