Thursday, January 3, 2013

#46 The Iliad

The IliadThe Iliad by Homer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Mostly I read this because Thoreau told me I should (he didn't tell me personally, but in his Walden). My one word review is as follows: INTENSE!

No really, it is extremely intense. Lots of detailed, graphic battling. For instance:

With this he hurled his spear, and Minerva guided it on to Pandarus's nose near the eye. It went crashing in among his white teeth; the bronze point cut through the root of his tongue, coming out under his chin, and his glistening armour rang rattling round him as he fell heavily to the ground. The horses started aside for fear, and he was reft of life and strength.

Then a couple of sentences later we have:

But the son of Tydeus caught up a mighty stone, so huge and great that as men now are it would take two to lift it; nevertheless he bore it aloft with ease unaided, and with this he struck Aeneas on the groin where the hip turns in the joint that is called the "cup-bone." The stone crushed this joint, and broke both the sinews, while its jagged edges tore away all the flesh. The hero fell on his knees, and propped himself with his hand resting on the ground till the darkness of night fell upon his eyes.

I think this stuff seems even more intense to me when I listen to it as an audio book (which is what I did with The Iliad), as I remember the book of Revelation in the Bible seeming more intense when I listened to it than it has when I have read it.

Anyway, not the sort of stuff I normally read. Probably the things that the scholars (such as Thoreau) go nuts about in this book just went over my head. In any case it seemed quite modern to me (the multi-threaded stories for example, the subtle shadings of motives, the minute details given, and the epic similes coming fast and furious) which I guess is part of the point of this book being a cornerstone of the Western Canon. I'll take a break and then go back to the Odyssey before too long.

Here's my summary of the story: Agamemnon steals an attractive young woman from Achilles, whom Achilles had in turn taken as a spoil of war. This ticks Achilles off, and he refuses to fight in the ongoing Trojan War. Lots of battles and intrigues between gods and men happen, eventually Achilles decides to fight in the war, he kills Hector (one of the big Trojan champions), they dishonor Hector's body, play some games, the end.

View all my reviews

1 comment:

Kristen said...

I always thought the Odyssey was superior. But both are great, but I was a mythology nut as a child.


blogger templates | Make Money Online