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Publisher's Summary

For thousands of years, Homer's ancient epic poem the Iliad has enchanted readers from around the world. When you join Professor Vandiver for this lecture series on the Iliad, you'll come to understand what has enthralled and gripped so many people.

Her compelling 12-lecture look at this literary masterpiece - whether it's the work of many authors or the "vision" of a single blind poet - makes it vividly clear why, after almost 3,000 years, the Iliad remains not only among the greatest adventure stories ever told but also one of the most compelling meditations on the human condition ever written.

As you'll learn, the grandeur and immediacy of Homer's world would seem to defy time and space. Throughout these lectures, you'll explore this legendary era in brilliant, unforgettable hues. You'll meet its towering heroes who thirst for honor and the gods who inspired and instigated them. You'll go deep inside the shattering battles at Troy that act out mankind's awesome passions for glory, love, and vengeance. But more than that, you'll focus on the timeless human issues this masterpiece raises, all of them evoked by the power of a single dramatic question: Why does Achilles rage? The limits of freedom, the common humanity we share, the line between justice and revenge, the nature of destiny, the meaning of life - Professor Vandiver uses the Iliad as a potent lens through which to study them all.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©1999 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)1999 The Great Courses

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Vandiver never disappoints

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

When I first read the Iliad of Homer on my own, I thought it a hyper-violent war story with deeply unsympathetic characters who let petty disputes plunge their societies into disaster. However, Professor Vandiver's lectures gaves the historical and cultural background for the Iliad, helping me to understand why Agamemnon's actions were so deeply insulting to Achilles, while also illuminating how the Iliad is a timeless work of literature that speaks to the human condition today. These lectures are a must if you want to really understand this famous epic.<br/><br/>All of Prof. Vandiver's lectures on classical literature are highly recommended for anyone even the slightest bit interested in the subject. She brings so much background and insight to the great tales of Ancient Greece, illuminating small points that I overlooked when reading on my own. In addition, she is a first-rate lecturer, and keeps her discussions engaging throughout. Her conversational tone keeps her lectures free from the pedantry and pretentiousness that some lecturers suffer from. I have all of her Teaching Company courses, and love all of them.<br/>

What other book might you compare The Iliad of Homer to and why?

Vandiver's lectures on the Odyssey of Homer make a great companion piece to this lecture series, and come just as highly recommended.

20 of 21 people found this review helpful

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Great!

I really enjoyed listening to both The Illiad and The Odyssey of Homer. It is very obvious that Professor Vandiver knows a lot about these pieces of work. She starts the series off with background information about the way Homer's epics are written and information about Homer. After that, each lecture focuses on 1-2 "books" of the epics. Each book is well-analyzed and connects seamlessly with the next lecture.

I listen to audiobooks on my commute to and from work. At first, I thought it was a little hard to follow along with the lecture because Professor Vandiver speaks really fast (I'm also a fast talker), but I quickly grew accustomed to her speed and cadence. I ended up enjoying each lecture very much and can still hear her voice in my head as I think back on the information.

Overall, I definitely recommend this audiobook, along with The Odyssey.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Well done!

Excellent short series on the Iliad. Dr. Vandiver does a wonderful job of bringing the story to life and exploring the themes.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Gives A Better Understanding Of A Classic

I had never read The Iliad before, so after listening to the Fitzgerald translation, I wanted to get more meaning and context from my reading. Professor Vandiver of Northwestern University gave some excellent lectures and enhanced my understanding of this classic of Western Literature. She was very organized and presented the material in an easy-to-grasp way. Her enthusiasm for the book and ancient Greek literature was evident in her voice. I would love to take one of her classes! I am now reading The Odyssey and intend to purchase her series of lectures on it too.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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A Great Course for a Great Classic

What about Professor Elizabeth Vandiver’s performance did you like?

Professor Elizabeth Vandiver is quickly becoming one of my favorite professors available through the Great Courses. She knows how to provide the structure the material deserves, while keeping it accessible.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I wanted to, but my schedule dictated that I listen to it one lecture at a time.

Any additional comments?

If you're getting this, get The Odyssey of Homer (same Professor), it paints the full picture of the Greek Epics.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Instructive and Enlightening

This was a very good companion to the Iliad! It put the story in much more satisfying context than just reading it alone would have, specifically about the things that the ancient author would've assumed his ancient audience would've known about their culture and story background that today we might not know. The instructor seemed very knowledgable and erudite.

I listened to the whole Iliad first before listening to the course, which is how I'd suggest going about it. She seems to assume that we all, as educated people, at least know the basic gist of the story and how it ends, so she gives away some pretty big spoilers right at the very beginning! Well I, as an uneducated plebeian, did NOT know these things and so I was glad I'd heard the whole thing first. Not that you're exactly listening to it for the express purpose of getting to the thrilling conclusion like it was a mystery novel, but still. It was nice to have a little element of surprise.

My only complaint is that it was too short, which is a good complaint to have I guess. But it would've been nice to have a lecture at the end about the legacy of the epic throughout Western literature, thought, and linguistic idiom. And maybe a short note about choosing from the different translations, and a few practical tips for clearer understanding like explaining their system of naming. Even so, I highly recommend this course and look forward to hearing the one on the Odyssey once I finish it!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Excellent course!

What did you love best about The Iliad of Homer?

We are a homeschool family and decided to listen to this course as we studied The Iliad. The lessons greatly enhanced our learning and enriched our study of this great book. Professor Vandiver is a dynamic speaker who gives interesting lectures.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Review

The lectures were clear, concise and thorough. It said much in little, not overdrawn but balanced. The summaries were helpful, her comments, insightful. It deepened my appreciation for the themes and literary beauty of the Iliad. I highly recommend this course!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • P
  • 09-22-15

Good professor and the right approach

I enjoyed this very much. She is enthusiastic without being annoying. And she's confident enough to present contrasting views of the text fairly, even when she doesn't adhere to them. I'll buy the Odyssey lecture as well.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Excellent course

If you could sum up The Iliad of Homer in three words, what would they be?

Insightful. Rich. Invaluable.

What other book might you compare The Iliad of Homer to and why?

Vandiver's course on the Odyssey was just as amazing, and I highly recommend it.

Any additional comments?

To read the Iliad without this course would be to miss the heart and soul of the story. Vandiver is an excellent professor - thorough and insightful - and her grasp on classical mythology and Ancient Greek culture is undeniable. She uncovers and explores so many details that most readers would otherwise miss.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-06-17

Informative and intriguing!

As someone with no prior knowledge of the story line, I found the narration easy to follow, and constantly interesting to learn about. It’s not only a concise summary of the story line, it does a fantastic job of explaining the key themes, ideologies and the societal values it carries. I was listening to it at 1.25x speed and found that to be a good pace for myself.

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  • Naomi Skilling
  • 10-18-17

Great Lecture Series

This series of lectures on the Iliad is great for anyone who wants to learn about the text more deeply. The lecturer is amazing and she explains everything in a way that it easy to understand and informative.

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  • Magdalena
  • 02-06-17

Grabbed my attention!

Thoroughly enjoyed prof Vandiver's argumentation of the Iliad. I highly recommend it for its exposition.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Nicky Beet
  • 04-27-15

scandalous

Would you try another book written by The Great Courses or narrated by Professor Elizabeth Vandiver?

I have listened to other courses by Professor Vandiver and have enjoyed them so i probably will.The performance was fine and i love the Illiad.

What could The Great Courses have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

My problem is the constant claim that Helen was guilty or complicit in her relationship with paris.This is not the case as she was made to fall in love or lust with paris because she was promised to him by Aphrodite.Given this she had nocontrol over her actions

Which scene did you most enjoy?

I am not sure i really enjoyed any of this which is a great shame

What character would you cut from The Iliad of Homer?

nothing should be cut from the Illiad itself.It is probably the greates story of western culture/history

2 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Alison
  • 12-02-14

I thought this was actually The Iliad

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

Classical scholars

What could The Great Courses have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Given a much better description that it was a series of lectures about the Iliad by an American lady.

Would you be willing to try another one of Professor Elizabeth Vandiver’s performances?

No.

What character would you cut from The Iliad of Homer?

Achilles

Any additional comments?

My wrath!

0 of 23 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-21-15

Insightful

I really enjoyed Prof Vandiver's course. I was given a glimpse of the depths in this epic. It was not a superficial summary of the episodes, but rather a critical analysis and an in-depth discussion. Yet there was not a moment that was boring. I certainly look forward to hearing more discussion of classics by Prof Vandiver.