Monday, May 10, 2010

"The Iliad", Boring Tale or a Magnificent Adventure Story?

After a recent viewing of the adventure movie Troy, I found myself wanting to know more about this epic story. While I knew that The Iliad was a daunting read and quite long, I was lucky to find the above translation by Robert Fagles and before long I became completely immersed in this marvelous adaptation. Fagles did an amazing job of taking this classic piece of literature and making it easy to read. The poem is not about the entire ten-year struggle between the Greeks and the Trojans, but only concerns itself with what happened in the last year and the events leading up to the famous scene with the Trojan horse being brought into the walled city of Troy. It took about five weeks to reach the final chapter, but I was determined to take my time. I am still in awe of how this famous classic has survived these thousands of years, and wonder what Homer would think of his work still being around in the 21st century, challenging readers and scholars alike. The library has other translations by W. H. D. Rouse, Robert Fitzgerald, Richard Lattimore, and Stanley Lomardo. This last translation by Lombardo is a truly different look at Homer's work, done in a more contempory style. While some purists have criticized it, others found it to be a rousing tale as evidenced by this 1997 review by the New York Times.

The library also has several books about Troy, the newest one in the collection is The War That Killed Achilles: The True Story of Homer's Iliad and the Trojan War by Caroline Alexander. A few older titles are The Songs on Bronze: The Greek Myths Made Real by Nigel Spivey and Lost and Found: The 9,000 Treasures of Troy by Heinrich Schliemann. There are also several historical novels including Troy: Lord of the Silver Bow by David Gemmell, which is the first book in a series that includes Shield of Thunder and Fall of Kings . The library also has a Teaching Company DVD set, The Iliad of Homer, with lectures by Dr. Elizabeth Vandiver. Younger readers can also delve into the world of Troy and ancient Greece with Goddess of Yesterday by Caroline Cooney, Troy by Adele Garas, and an Iliad novel, retold by Ian Strachan, with illustrations by Victor Ambrus.

Of course, now I found myself wanting to read more about the ancient world and how we got to where we are today and that could take a long time. But the library's 8-week Summer Reading program is just around the corner (begins June 4th) and I've been looking for a reading goal...this could be it!

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