The Iliad is one of the most enduring creations of Western Civilization and was originally written to be recited or chanted to the accompaniment of various instruments. Properly performed, this work today is just as meaningful, just as powerful, and just as entertaining as it was in the ninth century BC, and it casts its spell upon modern listeners with the same raw intensity as it did upon the people of ancient times.
As you listen to this great work, you feel yourself to be in the presence of a grandeur that suffuses the very air. There is no question that the poet, whether his name was Homer or not, was one of the supreme artists of all time and all civilizations. But this wonderful piece of poetry is not merely a catalog of events of the Trojan War. Specifically, the poem deals with the bitter dispute between Achilles and Agamemnon, and how the Greeks were almost destroyed by their hubris. Hovering about, the Olympian gods watch the unfolding events with keen interest, sometimes lending help and encouragement on one hand, or spreading fear and hatred on the other.
The Iliad is ultimately about the free will of man and his ability or failure to make rational choices in the face of conflict and chaos. Unlike the gods, men must face death, which gives their decisions a spiritual meaning which is absent on Olympus. The great legacy of The Iliad is its shattering revelation of what it means to be human in the face of life's uncertainty and fleeting mortality.
Public Domain (P)2008 Audio Connoisseur
As far as English translations go, it is my firm opinion that Lattimore is second to none. The rhetoric is so straightforward and much easier to follow than the other two translations I've read previously.
Additionally, Griffin's delivery is excellent. His expression, voice impressions, and clear speech make for a grand telling of this amazing old poem. His annunciation is so good that you can listen to this audiobook at 2x speed and still understand him with relative ease, though I will say that 1.5x is a more reasonable recommendation.
Even the introduction in the beginning is well worth the listen. And I'll say for those that aren't familiar with the Iliad and don't know that this includes all 24 books of the story. That is to say, it begins with Achilles's rage at being treated unfairly by Agamemnon, and it ends with the funeral of Hector. The Iliad does not actually include the story of the Trojan horse, Ilium's fall, or Achilles's death. Those are not part Homer's canonical telling of the story, so this is a complete work, despite what some may think based on their knowledge of the whole legend.
I give it five stars in all categories.
There were awkward pauses, volume would go up and down. Downright bad editing. it's a shame as the narrator did a great job.
They story and narration are both very entertaining. Battle scenes are described most graphic. Great lessons in morality.
Fantastic reading of the Iliad. Good pacing, very well read. I particularly enjoy the dramatic framing of the chapters with firing music. As has been noted elsewhere, the false female voices were rather odd, if not to say mildly annoying, but this was only a minor problem.
I regret not having addressed The Iliad until now. It is indeed a classic of literature and despite its age remains strongly engaging. However, if one's only understanding of the story is from popular film and television, one might have false expectations as to the story that The Iliad really tells. It's not about the Trojan War. That's just the backdrop. While details of the war are described and are important, what it really focuses on is Achilles' anger and its consequences. Achilles is the only character with an arc, despite large portions of the story not being directly about him.
The Iliad is also a great view back into ancient Greek sensibilities. What struck me most was the use of the word "evil." The story features no evil characters. Evil is never described as a human trait or even as a cosmic trait. Evil is what people do. Save for the mortal women, all characters, Gods and human men alike, commit "evils" against someone. Killing is evil as is death. Cheating and beguiling are evil, but simply committing any of these acts does not make anyone wicked. Indeed, all characters both love and are loved, support their comrades and families, and have some measure of nobility to them.
Charlton Griffin's performance was great. His voice has a sufficiently broad range to cover each any every character without difficulty and he certainly knows how to do that. My first exposure to his voice was through Paradise Lost, though that book had far fewer characters.
What stops me from giving this audio book a perfect rating is the editing -- which is horrible. There are inexplicably long pauses between segments and the volume changes at random. I eventually learned to reach for the volume knob on my car stereo at the end of each section, setting it to some neutral level. Else I would have either had to strain to hear or be startled by the volume. Had I been listening with headphones, I'd have taken off another star at least.
Thus, if you have a volume control easily at hand, I would definitely recommend this title. It has been described by many as "Bible" of Greek mythology. It's not quite that, as it covers only a limited number of Greek gods and other mythological figures, but of those it covers it describes them well and makes perfectly clear the relationship mortal men had with them.
I've had negative things to say about Charleton Griffin's readings before, especially his Pindar, but this is an outstanding performance. Unfortunately, it's marred by bad production values. Lattimore is, of course, one of the finest translators of Ancient Greek literature.
Any editor that cuts scenes from the Iliad is simply guilty of hubris.
This would be the best reading / translation combination of the Iliad available on Audible (Fagles' translation is only available in an abridged reading. it doesn't count as the Iliad to me). But Griffin's reading was clearly transferred from cassette tape by machine without a sound editor in attendance. There are random long pauses (no doubt the end of cassette tapes) and the sound level is uneven throughout: one section will be loud and the next one nearly inaudible. Also, the Iliad is 24 books long, and that's how many chapters a reading should contain, but this audio version is broken up randomly into 63 chapters. These issues allow the Fitzgerald translation as read by Dan Stevens to emerge as the best available combination of reader and translation of the Iliad available on Audible. It's really too bad, because Griffin does such a wonderful job of reading the it.
Love the story. This was my second trip through an audio Iliad. However! Charlton Griffin's voice and tone simply got old after book five.
Why? Yes, he uses a lot of variation in his speaking, but after a while it becomes sing-song instead of exciting. Mr. Griffin has chosen to give a dramatic reading, great, but his voice merely rises and falls instead portraying passion and grief. Same thing with his reading of Caesar's Commentaries. Here I was holding on, but when he got Hector & Andromache's "voices" mixed up in what should be one of the best scenes, I lost it.
Intellectual, historic, classic
The Odyssey is the obvious choice here, but for those who have not read Homer, it has traces of a Shakespearean sound with powerful descriptive vocabulary, but a more adventurous feel. Great for getting a feel for Greek mythology.
He was incredible. This is not an easy book to read, and he was very articulate, even with difficult Grecian names. Very dynamic and clear, and even did a good job with the female voices.
24 hours? No chance. I listened to this on the way to and from work though, and I really enjoyed it.
The translation is compelling but the reader distracts the listener with maudlin attempts to imitate female voices.
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