The power and the beauty of The Iliad resound again across 2,700 years in Stephen Mitchell's exciting new translation, as if the lifeblood of its heroes Achilles and Patroclus, Hector and Priam flowed in every word. And we are there with them amid the horror and ecstasy of war, carried along by a poetry that lifts even the most devastating human events into the realm of the beautiful.
Based on the recent, superb M.L. West edition of the Greek, this Iliad is more accessible and moving than any previous version. Whether it is his exciting recent version of Gilgamesh, with more than 150,000 copies sold, or his unmatched translation of the poet Rilke, still the standard after 29 years, or his Tao Te Ching, which has sold more than 900,000 copies and has itself been translated into six languages, Stephen Mitchell's books are international sensations. Now, thanks to his scholarship and poetic power, which re-creates the energy and simplicity, the speed, grace, and continual thrust and pull of the original, The Iliad's ancient story bursts vividly into new life and will reach an even larger audience of listeners.
Please note: Book 10, recognized since ancient times as a later addition to the Iliad, has been omitted in this translation.
©2011 Stephen Mitchell (P)2011 Simon & Schuster
“Stephen Mitchell’s magnificent new translation of the Iliad reminds us that there is always a new and different way to read and interpret the great classics, and that they need to be reinvigorated from generation to generation, just as we need to be reminded that they are, however venerated, above all stories: exciting, full of life and great characters, in short great entertainment, not just great monuments of culture or the Western canon. Mr. Mitchell has accomplished this difficult feat wonderfully well, and produced a book which is a joy to read and an Iliad for this generation.” (Michael Korda, D. Litt., author of Hero, Ike, and Ulysses S. Grant)
"Stephen Mitchell has done a marvelous thing here: he has given fresh energy and poetic force to a work that perennially repays our attention. Without the Iliad the West would be a vastly poorer place; Homer’s achievement speaks to every successive generation with its unflinching understanding of the essential tragic nature of life. Mitchell’s translation is a grand accomplishment.” (Jon Meacham, author of American Lion)
"Mitchell’s wonderful new version of the Iliad is a worthy addition to his list of distinguished renditions of the classics.” (Peter Matthiessen)
The Book Snob for Paris Life Magazine.
If you have never fallen in love with The Iliad, please listen to this right now, and hear the story the way the ancient Greeks did. Enthralling story telling about the human experience, not just a war book. And the narrator is a master, too.
This poem is 3000 years old and one of the oldest works of literature to survive that long; it's an amazing and highly influential work; and there is so much to be learned from it historically and culturally that it's an incredible work of art and pretty much essential to any education in literature.
But, nonetheless, if you ignore all that and just take the story for what it is, it's a long and fairly violent story about Achilles being a total dick and everyone suffering. Plus a lot of lengthy ancient Greek lineage recitations which, if you pick up the audio book, will make an excellent cure for insomnia in certain chapters.
Entirely depends what you're hoping to get out of it. Read it for the historical or cultural value, read it for the influence it had on future works, read it if you can in the original Greek to appreciate the structure of the poem, or even read parts of it to cure insomia ... but be realistic and just don't expect deep character development or a plot that stands up to more modern standards!
"The Iliad" should really be subtitled, "Achilles is an ass". That's basically what the story is about, from almost the very beginning to the last page: Achilles acting like a 3-year old throwing a temper tantrum for most of the length of the story.
I'd warn of spoilers, except it's hard to see how to spoil a 3000 year old story, so plot summary: during the war with the city of Troy, the Achaean soldiers capture a couple of pretty maidens from an allied town, and these poor ladies are given to King Agamemnon and Achilles (one of the greatest warriors) as "prizes". One of the maidens happens to be the daughter of a priest, who offers Agamemnon a huge ransom for her return, but King Agamemnon refuses because "MINE". Priest consults the god Apollo, who sends a plague down to punish King Agamemnon and the whole camp. Eventually Agamemnon gives the priest back his daughter, but then takes Achilles' maiden in her place because Kings can do that kind of thing, apparently.
Achilles has a temper tantrum worthy of a spoiled toddler and refuses to fight Troy or anyone else any more, because Agamemnon took "his" toy. With Achilles pouting in his tent the war starts to go badly and the Achaeans start to suffer badly. Insert various conflicts between various heroic characters on both sides, which the Greek gods aid and abet and generally confuse, switching sides so often (and sometimes working against each other on both sides) that it's hard to understand why either side could ever find it helpful to pray to any of them.
Defeat seeming imminent for the Achaeans, Achilles' best friend Patroclus persuades Achilles (still sulking and refusing to do anything) to let him wear Achilles' very recognizable armor and inspire the Achaeans to rally (assuming he is Achilles). He does this, and the Achaean morale improves enough to push the Trojans back to the city walls, but unfortunately Hector (the greatest warrior from Troy) kills Patroclus (aided and abetted by the gods).
Achilles, having basically caused the death of his best friend Patroclus by acting like a spoiled brat, finally rejoins the fight and goes on a rampage killing everyone he can, eventually including Hector (now betrayed by the gods, because you just can't trust those gods). Achilles then spends the next 10 days or so dragging Hector's body around tied to his chariot wailing about Patroclus's death and how sad he is (except for the part where he decides to throw a set of "funeral games" including chariot races and wrestling for prizes which Achilles provides), and generally trying to mutilate Hector's corpse as horribly as possible (which is foiled by those indecisive gods, who now - rather belatedly - pour healing salves and stuff on the corpse so it doesn't decay and still looks good).
Eventually even the gods agree this is getting ridiculous and Patroclus appears to Achilles in a dream telling him to give Hector's body back to his father, and the gods escort Hector's father the king of Troy to collect the body, which he does, having a nice dinner with Achilles in the mean time during which Achilles agrees to stop attacking Troy for a 2 week temporary truce so the Trojans can properly bury Hector. At which point the book ends, although Patroclus has made it clear in the dream that Achilles is about to die also, so Achilles spends a lot of time telling everyone how he wants to be buried with Patroclus and all the details of what he wants.
And thus ends my very irreverent but completely accurate plot summary of "The Iliad: Achilles is an Ass".
Quite high up among the books I have listened to so far. (and there have been many scores).
When Achilles learns that Patroclus is dead, his grief, the funeral pyre for his fiend and lover. All this then followed by Achilles' killing rage against Hector and his desecration of Hector's body dragged around the walls of Troy.
The desperate battle of the Greeks when they are driven back to their ships by the Trojans and nearly overrun.
No, far too long. This book should be listened to is parts like it was sung.
I have read many translations of Homer's The Iliad. I did not think Richard Lattimore's translation could be bettered but Stephen Mitchell achieved that with a truly inspired translation. The text is in clear English, not overblow, not overly poetic, but quite rich, imaginatively strong and noble as befits this epic; an epic which continues to be read all over the world and has been for thousands of years because it is the foundation of one of the greatest civilizations ever know to the world - the Greeks.
Molina's reading of this classic is just spell binding. I could listen to the way he pronounces the Greek names endlessly!
gods vs man, man vs man, gods vs gods. Timeless
really all of them
skip the incredibly long, pedantic chapters by the translator....
Say something about yourself!
At times- its a little harder to skip through pages of very descriptive killing. I did that reading a different translation. The Iliad, as beautiful as it is, can be quite long winded.
The character arch types of Hector and Achilles. One fights for honor and defending his people. One fights for revenge and glory. Both become famous. Both die in the same war. It sends a message of means over the ends. Its the journey not the destination. It highlights human nature and makes me question who I am and what I want to be.
Hector speech about the inevitability of death and encouragement to fight. It reminded me of the Braveheart freedom speech. Braveheart may have borrowed from it.
...and the the narrator was magnificent. the poetry was uplifting despite all the bloodshed. I cannot imagine a better way to read this classic than with this performance. It was originally meant to be read aloud. this version does it justice.
The music in the wording was enjoyable. As soon as I finished, I had to go immediately to the Odyssey.
I learned what Homer said and not what Hollywood’s distortions
It was exhilarating and heightened my imagination. I’m eager to find additional classics from the period.
It is kind of fun to revisit all the books I should have read in school.
From Homer Yes... Stephen Mitchell ....no...
I love the Illiad, What turns me of is this book is 1/3 commentary, and the remaining 2/3's appears to be only part of the full Iliad (even taking account of the 'extra' parts).
Good reader.... like
Yep all of the above
This book- dislike not fully the Iliad. Just talking and bits and pieces...Baby Food? don't know..
maybe I was distracted, but I've listened to the first couple of chapters and I don't know what the heck is going on or what it's about
Yes, I will give this a second chance and re-listen from the start.
I don't know if it's the narrator or that the book is boring.
I listen to a lot of books while driving but if I am lost after the first 1/2 hour or so it's really tough to keep going or start over.
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