doowahditty, September 4, 2011 (view all comments by doowahditty)
The Iliad by Homer, translated by Robert Fagles, is undoubtedly wonderful poetry that makes you marvel at word choice and rhetorical construction. Yet it moves with the speed of an adventure novel. In other words, it exemplifies (as no other translation has for me) what scholars have been telling us about Homer for centuries. I don't understand classical Greek, so I can't read Homer in the original, but it seems Fagles has given me something very, very close indeed. In fact, Fagles' translations of Homer's "The Odyssey" and Virgil's "The Aenied" make a sublime trilogy of ancient myth. To hear it as Homer must have spoken it (it was first an oral composition, of course) I recommend the audiobook with Derek Jacobi's interpretation of "The Iliad" as translated by Fagles. Stupendous!
BGP, October 10, 2009 (view all comments by BGP)
The Iliad is a genuine classic, sure to please aficionados and students of: poetry; mythology; ancient history; military literature; rhetoric; and epic fiction in general. Be that as it may, I must state that I wasn't entirely pleased with the most recent adaptation, in which: Menelaus was portrayed by Cheney; Agamemnon by Bush; Achilles by Rumsfeld; Ajax by Powell; Priam by Saddam; Paris by the rather abstract, but quite real, blowback from America's (specifically, the Reagan Administration's) foreign policy; Helen by Saddam's delusory and dramatically overstated weapons program, and so on and so forth...
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by Oliver Taplin, The New York Times Book Review,
"Plain and direct, noble, above all rapid...leading the reader forward with an irresistible flow. More readable than Lattimore or Fitzgerald, and more performable...[Fagles'] version is imbued with humanity."
by Donald Lyons, The Wall Street Journal,
"Fagles can claim to be the twentieth-century champion."
by Douglass Parker, The New Republic,
"Tremendous eloquence...an Iliad primed for grandeur...the result is a glory that can encompass that shuddering last month of the war...a nobility and a sweep hitherto unknown in English Iliads."
by The New York Review of Books,
"[Fagles's version] has many admirable qualities. The author has taken great care to make it easy for people unfamiliar with Greek mythology to understand the poet....His beautifully produced book is equipped with maps, glossaries, and aids to pronunciation....Its value to the many professors who teach Homer in translation will be considerable. Apart from these external advantages, it has a good many intrinsic merits....[Fagles'] version is undeniably rapid. It is also plain and direct....[However], he is deficient in nobility."
by Garry Wills, The New Yorker,
"Robert Fagles is the best living translator of ancient Greek drama, lyric poetry, and epic into modern English."
by The Chicago Tribune,
"Fagles' [translation] is more supple than Lattimore's, more sinewy than Fitzgerald's. [He] has done what any translator must do, which is to make dozens of decisions in each line, hundreds on each page. Most of them, in this version, are sensible and shrewd, at least reasonable and quite often brilliant."
by The Washington Post,
"Robert Fagles now offers a verse translation that explains what readers need to know, in clear, vigorous language that still retains a sense of the sweep and the sonority of the original."
This poem recounts the story of the Trojan wars, conveying the horror and heroism of men and gods battling amidst devastation and destruction. In his introduction, Knox observes that although the violence is relentless, it co-exists with both images of civilized life and a yearning for peace.
Dating to the ninth century BC, Homers timeless poem still vividly conveys the horror and heroism of men and gods wrestling with towering emotions and battling amidst devastation and destruction, as it moves inexorably to the wrenching, tragic conclusion of the Trojan War. Renowned classicist Bernard Knox observes in his superb Introduction that although the violence of the Iliad is grim and relentless, it coexists with both images of civilized life and a poignant yearning for peace.
Combining the skills of a poet and scholar, Robert Fagles brings the energy of contemporary language to this enduring heroic epic. He maintains the drive and metric music of Homers poetry, and evokes the impact and nuance of the Iliads mesmerizing repeated phrases in what Peter Levi calls an astonishing performance.”
This timeless poem-more than 2,700 year old-still vividly conveys the horror and heroism of men and gods wrestling with towering emotions and battling amid devastation and destruction as it moves inexorably to its wrenching, tragic conclusion. Readers of this epic poem will be gripped by the finely tuned translation and enlightening introduction.
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