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!
I have always loved Jacobi as an actor, but he cannot (or does not) top McKellen's reading of the Odyssey -- an impossible act to follow.
As for this Iliad, Fagles' translation is just as good as everyone says. True poetry. Jacobi's reading is adequate, but not as thoughtful or subtle as I'd expect of him. I'm guessing this was done in one take with very little or no research. Probably rushed. He lays on his unique brand of drama thick in places it does not really belong at all, and seemed to be faking his way through this reading in other ways too. I can make no sense at all of the random snippets read by Maria Tucci. Was there any thought behind that? I don't think so. Probably those were passages Jacobi had mangled the first go-round; and, having no way to get him back to the studio, they brought Tucci to the rescue. She does a good enough job, but I found it distracting listening to her -- mainly b/c I spent too much time wondering why the hell we needed a new narrator all of a sudden.
Harsh review, I know, but really: when dealing with a text as great as this one the publishers should have taken more care to rise to the occasion. They fell short, so this "only" warrants four stars. Could have, and should have, been a slam-dunk five.
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.