The Iliad – After Dark

The history of the Trojan War, assiduously studied and thoroughly documented today, was passed down through the centuries not by academic text, but by oral tradition. The conduit for communication, rather than scholarly prose, was the campfire poetry best told in the Iliad by Homer, author of the other great Greek epic The Odyssey. How much of the details of the story were true, such as the role of the Gods, versus artistic embellishment are of less import, but rather how the stories and myths of such great events – incorporating the essentials of love, lust, power and corruption – proved equally a reflection as much as an influence on the foundations of culture in the ancient Greek world and by extension the greater West.

Myth of the 20th Century – Episode 232 – The Iliad – After Dark

— References —

  • Iliad, Homer (800 BC)
  • The Greek Myths, Graves (1955)
  • Gates of Fire, Pressfield (1998)
  • Troy, Petersen (2004)
  • Alexander, Stone (2004)
  • 300, Snyder (2006)
  • The War Nerd Iliad, Dolan (2017)

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Ian says:

    One technical aspect I’d like to mention regarding the original language vs. translations. As an amateur student of Ancient Greek who spent a couple years committing a mere 100+ lines ( Book I ) to memory, it is apparent that the ‘Iliad’ would never have been able to be memorized apart from the flow of the six-line poetic meter ( = dactylic hexameter ) it made famous to later generations. The effect is truly musical in a rhythmic sense, with just enough strictness and variety balanced in terms of the poetic ‘rules’ ( i.e. what kind of syllabic division can be recited on a particular ‘beat’ of the 6 lines ); you only have to memorize/recite a few lines to experience this phenomenon and know that it facilitated the memorization from which the Homeric bards went on to recite ( sing ) the story in an inspired and compelling fashion. As far as translations go, I have heard that Richmond Lattimore’s is about as faithful to the original as is possible in English. Caroline Alexander has also been praised. Regarding non-standard approaches to translation, Hank mentioned an unusual rendering in modern terms; he ( and others ) might be interested in looking at the version ( not a translation but an ‘account’ ) completed by the late English poet Christopher Logue ( he spent decades working on it and it is available now in one volume as ‘War Music’ ). It is quirky but at times quite compelling.


    1. Mario says:

      I found Robert Fagles’ translations of the The Iliad, The Odyssey and The Aenid to be the best. They take liberties compared to the. More direct translations, but to my “ear” Fagles’ translations are the most poetically beautiful and capture the musical rhythm of the originals.

      “Rage! Goddess sing the rage of Peleus’s son Achilles.
      Murderous, doomed, who cost the Achaeans countless losses,
      Hurling down to the house of death many brave souls,
      Stout fighters souls, but their bodies made carrion, feasts for the dogs and birds.
      And so the will of Zeus moved to its end.”

      “Sing of that man oh Muse, that man of twists and turns,
      Driven time and again off-course once he had plundered the hallowed halls of Troy.
      Many cities of men we saw, and came to know their minds,
      Many pains he suffered heartsick on the open seas,
      Fighting to save his comrades and bring them safely home.
      But he could not save them as hard as he strove,
      The fools, their blindness destroyed them all
      And once they had devoured the golden cattle of the sun,
      The Sun God wiped from sight the day of their return.
      Launch into your tale then, oh Goddess, daughter of Zeus.
      Start where you will, sing to us also for our time.”

      Very musical.


      1. Ian says:

        I agree; Fagles is great ( very true to the Greek as to meaning, and as you say, very musical ). He really got the deluxe treatment from the publisher too; remember seeing the hardback editions prominently displayed at Border’s/B&N.


  2. Anon says:

    Great episode, glad to hear from you gentlemen. Very astute point from Hank about the gods and mythical figures representing metaphysical values, rather than just being random characters with names we learned about in high school text books.


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