I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
Listening to Charlton Griffin's reading of Richmond Lattimore's translation of The Iliad was a wonderful experience.
Griffin is good at modifying the pitch and tone of his voice to evoke the different genders and ages and moods and agendas of the various characters. He brings the epic to life. He even makes fascinating the 90-minute introduction by scholar Herbert J. Muller. And the sound effects (ravens cawing over a battlefield) and Greek mood music introducing and concluding the 24 books of the epic immersed me in its world.
As for Homer's story, an epic focused on a short slice of a long war, a tragedy with plenty of humor, it is rewardingly rich, depicting the appalling heroism and horror of war, the full range of human nature (from bravery to cowardice, brutality to mercy, destruction to creation, and hatred to love), the richness of ancient Greek culture, the pettiness and power of the gods, and the mortality and wonder of life. Among the most impressive moments are Hector's meeting with his wife and baby before going out to fight, Hephaestus' crafting of a shield with the heavens and earth and all of human endeavor animated upon it, and Achilles' inability to embrace the ghost of Patroclus in a dream. I hope the following quotation will give an idea of the excellence of Lattimore's translation and the depth of Homer's vision:
As is the generation of leaves, so is that of humanity,
The wind scatters the leaves on the ground, but the live timber
burgeons with leaves again in the season of spring returning.
So one generation of men will grow while another dies.
In conclusion, I thoroughly savored this audio version of The Iliad, often smiling with appreciation for Homer's story, Lattimore's translation, and Griffin's reading. I highly recommend it.
"Of arms I sing and the hero, destiny's exile," begins Virgil's epic poem The Aeneid, which I just finished enjoying in the Audio Connoisseur version. Though I am no expert, the 1961 verse translation, by Patric Dickinson, feels natural, clear, and pleasurable. The forty-something-minute introduction is illuminating about the strong points as well as the limitations of Virgil's epic. The Aeneid is not The Iliad (but then what is?), for Virgil has almost no sense of humor and too great a belief in Augustan Rome as the acme of world empires. But he also has a rich, noble, and dramatic imagination.
And Charlton Griffin does as wonderful job here as he does reading The Iliad, varying his pitch and pace to evoke the different emotions and moods of Virgil's many characters and scenes, bringing the poem to life with conviction. Among the highlights are Aeneas recounting the fall of and escape from Troy, Dido despairing, Aeneas finding the ghost of an assassinated Trojan in a mound pierced by spears that have grown into myrtle shoots, Aeneas visiting the underworld, the Trojans trapping the Latin hero Turnus inside their fortifications only to discover they have bitten off more than they can chew, baby Camilla's father tying her to a spear and throwing it over a river, and Turnus asking a last boon of Aeneas. Such scenes are beautiful, terrible, exciting, moving, fantastic, and heroic.
The production is fine, with good sound quality and ancient Mediterranean-type music introducing and concluding the books. But if you wish to hear the story freshly, you should fast forward past the suspense-killing and superfluous five-minute summaries that introduce each book.
I recommend this audio book because it is an influential and good story well read that reveals a lot about how ancient Rome saw itself and its origins and about the weakness and heroism in human nature.
This is a great audiobook Beowulf! The translation by Francis B. Gummere apparently follows closely the Anglo-Saxon original, even to the alliterative verse and kennings, so that listening to it gives one the illusion of listening to the "real" poem. And Rosalyn Landor does a fine job with it, using her deep and gravitas-filled voice effectively, building a dark momentum and sounding heroic and wyrd-filled and cool. The scenes with Grendel, Grendel's mother, and the dragon are all exciting and imaginative, and the scenes of interaction between Beowulf and Hrothgar and the other Scyldings are fascinating. Highly recommended!