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The Iliad – Book Review

By Homer


“And then darkness covered their eyes…” So was it nighttime?             

By MoonlightWalnut aka Elayne Snowhawk

The Iliad-beautiful and devastating, lovely and tragic-this is probably how I would sum it up. This classic poem by Homer, (not from The Simpsons, mind you) written in Ancient Greek, tells the story of the war between the Trojans and the Achaeans. Why are they fighting? I hear you ask (probably.) Because Paris, a brash but loveable young Trojan prince, seduces the goddess-like Helen (only after being seduced by Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and scandalously beautiful, in a contest between her, Hera and Athena) and steals her away to the other side of the Aegean Sea to Troy, an apparently impregnable fortress with all kinds of fancy things-in fact, the war may have kept raging for even longer if not for the famous Trojan horse that sneaked its way into the city. (Mind you though, it wasn’t the Trojans that made it, but the Greeks. The Trojans were on the receiving end, and that’s not a good thing.)

Any mention of books, or pieces of paper with miniscule writing wrapped up in a cover basically, always captivates my interest so it wasn’t surprising that when I saw this book in the shop I just had to get it. I have a 2012 new translation by Stephen Mitchell with a lovely illustrated cover and I would suggest this book to any advanced reader. Although at first the book may seem very sweet and entirely huggable in its own right, by the end of the first battle there has been plenty of spear-throwing, throats cut, bones broken and all manner of lovely things. (Let’s not forget the darkness that seems to cover everyone’s eyes-maybe it’s the night?) As well as this, the gods all high up on Olympus are having mock fights with each other, because, well-they can’t really die, so…

I don’t think I really have to tell you how this links to the classical world-if you didn’t get it from the name, you probably should have gotten it by now. From the first word, Mēnin (rage), to the last (I won’t spoil it for you), this book just airs a sense of magnificence and dignity that deserves to be recognised. As the introduction of my book mentions, “its poetry lifts even the most devastating human events into the realm of the beautiful, and it shows us how vast and serene our mind can be even when it contemplates the horrors of war.” This, I believe, sums up perfectly how to describe The Iliad-even if Achilles does just sulk around the ships for the majority of the entire poem, or that Aphrodite just seems like a petty little baby complaining half the time and being discomfortingly threatening the other. Urgh.

Overall, I would definitely recommend you at least having a look at this epic. As I would call it, the poem is almost disgustingly beautiful-showing the lighter side of a greater darkness.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   News and Announcements                                                                                                                                                             Yes, these two posts came out very close to each other. I hope you enjoy both however. This post may be suscpetible to further editing, since this was written for a school magazine and thus, as I hope you are all aware of, I write slightly differently. If you want, I can re-publish my Elsewhere post to the one I wrote for yet another school magazine (English related, not Classics), which I believe was a lot better than the one I wrote a couple of years beforehand (I won’t do the one for my Burnham Beeches trip however, since that one was really intended for my school, and wouldn’t make any coherent sense to people not going to Godolphin and Latymer). If you enjoy its obscurity though, tell me and I’ll leave it be. I was just wondering. For those who aren’t bothered to read books, by the way, just watch the movie. Lazy. I will probably be doing a book review for Pompeii too, especially since I’m doing a book review on it tomorrow at school, because I just couldn’t think of anything another girl my age would enjoy reading (or should be reading, let’s put it) apart from this. Funnily enough, I read this when I was sick-took me less than a day even though my stomach literally wanted to erupt just like Mount Vesuvius did. Ha ha. Have a sweet Easter. (Wow that was a rather subtle conclusion.)

1 reply »

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