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Reviews of Iliad, the (-800)

Review by datovs (2011-02-27) Contains spoilers. View anyway.

Upon finishing Homer's "The Iliad", translated by Robert Fitzgerald, I couldn't help but feel a slight disappointment in regards to where the novel finished. It felt cut-short, missing the "famous" Trojan horse and the sacking of Troy. Pop-culture can partially be to blame for this. Disregarding what the general public is lead to believe about the novel, it is in fact a thoroughly insightful story of man's weakness' and strengths, man's values and shortcomings.

Finishing off with Hektor's burial, it is intriguing to find how the author is as interesting as his content in regards to social norms. In those times, it is interesting how the common man would be willing to lay all his credit and success as a result of a higher being's favor as long as any downfall or mistake can be blamed on the same source. The gods in the Iliad squabble and portray traits akin to mortals and in someway symbolize the categories of men and where they stand fit. In doing so, we're an audience to a bloody and long battle that ensues the character of every victim and fights against generalization. It is no wonder The Iliad has become quintessential to the modern world of literature as it has affected the views of the human race hundreds of years ago to today.

(This review refers to the 1982 version titled “Homer's Iliad”)

Review by Jago360 (2004-11-23)
"Rage-Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus' son Achilles, murderous, doomed, that cost the Achaeans many losses, hurling down to the House of Death so many sturdy souls, great fighters' souls..."

With the above invocation of the Muses Homer begins his timeless epic of gods and men, of glory and humiliation, victory and death. As the story begins the Greeks have fought on the shores of Troy already ten years to recover Helen, whose abduction sparked the war, and the walls of Ilium still stand strong.

There are essentially two distinct but interrelated storylines in the "Iliad." The human plotline centers on, as the opening would suggest, the rage of the great Achaean warrior Achilles. Without giving away any details, the poem contains great insight into the character of one of the most intriguing protagonists in literature: the hulking, brooding warrior who must decide between peace and glory.

On the other end of the spectrum is the story of the dealings of the Greek gods. All the major gods from Zeus to Athena to Apollo are involved in the outcome of the Trojan War, and nearly all are allied with one side or the other. Homer gives a fascinating look at the interplay of the gods - their greatness and power, obviously, but more interestingly their pettiness and faults. One gets the sense that the Greek gods are in fact no more than humans endowed with certain powers, subject to all the temptations and mistakes to which humans so often fall victim.

While Homer's other epic, the "Odyssey," is much more of a swashbuckling adventure story that introduces new environs and personae as it progresses, the "Iliad" concentrates on one setting and one group of characters. Its emphasis is very much on the nature of humanity, embodied in the traits of Achilles, Hector, Agamemnon and many other fighters as well as in the deities. While the descriptions of bloody battles and dismembered limbs can become tiresome at times, the "Iliad" succeeds greatly in its attempt to characterize both gods and men.

©Steven Jeffery /, 2017
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