About the Author:
Although some claim that he may not have existed at all, the ancient Greek poet Homer is viewed by many as the father of literature. His works 'The Illiad' and 'The Odyssey' represent the earliest fantastical literature.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
3 out of 5
First off, for the scholarly among you, I'll make it clear that I read the Robert Fagles translation. 'The Iliad', meaning a poem about Ilium (AKA Troy), is an exceptionally difficult book to review. It has had such a colossal impact on literature as a whole that it's hard to stand it on its own and weigh its merits. Nonetheless, I'll give it a go.
Obviously, being an epic poem, this book is written in verse and will therefore be slightly difficult reading for those who, like myself, prefer prose. There are also several aspects of the idiom in which it's written which may prove difficult to the casual reader; ranging from the constant repetition to the long lists of names and family histories. What I'm trying to impart is that you really need to want to read 'The Iliad', because if you don't it'll rapidly put you off. I did want to read it and was suitably rewarded for my trouble.
In case you didn't know, it's the story of an allied Greek attack on the mighty city of Troy and follows the fortunes of some of the major military leaders on both sides, including such famous names as Agamemnon, Hector, Odysseus and, of course, Achilles. Ultimately, despite regular tangents to tell the tales of other characters, this story is about Achilles and how, ruled by his anger, he changes the fortunes of the Trojan War back and forth.
Personally, what I really loved about 'The Iliad' is the role played by the gods in it. There's very little of the lightning-bolt-throwing activity which popular culture would have us expect, but rather Homer uses the actions of the gods as subtle metaphors for the sometimes inexplicable actions of men. In fact, the politics of the gods was, for me, the most compelling aspect of the story.
Overall, I'm very pleased to have read this book, but I will mark it down due to its relative inaccessibility.
3 out of 5