A few negative (almost scathing) reviews of this recording gave me pause before I clicked to purchase, but I am so glad I ultimately ignored this (very bad) advice. This recording is a true gem. It is a GORGEOUS translation wonderfully read. I listened to the whole thing through twice in a row, and will surely revisit it soon. But first, onto Mr. Griffin's reading of Horace ... can't wait!
This is the most perfect translation of Horace imaginable (so good W.H. Auden did not dare try to top it) and it is read beautifully -- NEARLY perfectly. I am a new, raving fan of Charlton Griffin (having just finished his reading of Ovid) and adore his reading here too. One tiny flaw: Griffin seems to miss some of the incredibly subtle rhythms and rhymes that Michie miraculously creates. But absolute perfection is far too much to expect of any reader and Griffin is awfully darn close to achieving miracles himself. A solid 5-star performance well worth listening to again and again.
I really have very little to say on this one. Fagles' natural gifts (and of course Virgil's too) come shining through thanks to Simon Callow's sophisticated and energetic reading. Unlike some other "actors" reading the classics, Callow clearly understands everything he is saying, and says it beautifully.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
The last time I experienced the Iliad was when I had to read it as a freshman in high school. It was interesting to return to it with a more adult perspective, and to appreciate Homer's poetic imagery; the ancient ideals of heroic conduct; the timeless tragedy of war and human pride; and the way the ancient mind saw gods as capricious meddlers in human affairs, reaching down to bestir or chill the warrior's heart, or to guide a weapon towards or away from its target. To what extent Homer's audience really believed in the gods of his tale, or recognized them as dramatizations, is unclear to me. Yet, the genius of his story is that the audience can see it both ways. For generations of listeners, this tale must have stood like a Colossus with one foot in the real, solid world and one foot in the mists of myth.
Mitchell's translation aims to capture the way the Iliad was meant to be told: read aloud with feeling. He does so by stripping away a lot of the archaic phrasing and epithets that I remember from high school, leaving behind verse that's simple, tight, dynamic, and speaks directly to modern listeners. Some readers, of course, will be offended by his presumptuousness at "editing" a classic, but others will appreciate his efforts to make the passions of the story more accessible. A good litmus test is the scene where a soldier admonishes Paris as a "sissy" -- do you read that as a coarse, stinging insult (as was intended by the speaker), or a flagrant anachronism? (Most of the language isn't so "modern", but that was a more noticeable example.)
If you can roll with the "spirit of the work" interpretation, then Alfred Molina's masculine but sensitive audiobook performance is a great fit, capturing the frantic motion of combat, the smoldering resentment of Achilles, the feckless golden-boy attitude of Paris, and the anguish of Priam. No longer the dusty archetypes I remember from English class, the characters now come to life as human and flawed.