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The Iliad

A New Translation by Caroline Alexander
Narrated by: Dominic Keating
Length: 19 hrs and 46 mins
Categories: Classics, Greek & Roman
4.5 out of 5 stars (197 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

With her virtuoso translation, classicist and best-selling author Caroline Alexander brings to life Homer's timeless epic of the Trojan War.

Composed around 730 BC, Homer's Iliad recounts the events of a few momentous weeks in the protracted 10-year war between the invading Achaeans, or Greeks, and the Trojans in their besieged city of Ilion. From the explosive confrontation between Achilles, the greatest warrior at Troy, and Agamemnon, the inept leader of the Greeks, through to its tragic conclusion, The Iliad explores the abiding, blighting facts of war.

Soldier and civilian, victor and vanquished, hero and coward, men, women, young, old - The Iliad evokes in poignant, searing detail the fate of every life ravaged by the Trojan War. And, as told by Homer, this ancient tale of a particular Bronze Age conflict becomes a sublime and sweeping evocation of the destruction of war throughout the ages.

Carved close to the original Greek, acclaimed classicist Caroline Alexander's new translation is swift and lean, with the driving cadence of its source - a translation epic in scale yet devastating in its precision and power.

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

©2015 Caroline Alexander (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Forceful

I had a hard time getting into this translation when it first came out. The language seemed unnecessarily formal, sometimes downright knotty. I kept comparing it to another line-by-line translation that came out recently, the one by Peter Green, and found greater clarity in his.

What a difference a gifted narrator makes! When I listen to Dominic Keating read this translation, it sounds anything but formal and knotty: yes, it's rhythmic and filled with all the repetitive epithets so dear to Homer's heart, but boy does it have an impact. I actually listened to the Catalogue of the Ships this time around without zoning out, and could almost see the great armies massing on the plain, feeling the vibration of their boots on the ground. The words cut like sharpened bronze.

It comes with a short, clear, and helpful introduction by Alexander that condenses a lot of the material she covered in her book "The War that Killed Achilles".

A reliable source - the most reliable of all, Caroline Alexander herself, in an online chat - said she has no plans to do The Odyssey. It's not that doing The Iliad wore her out, it's just that she doesn't feel the same emotional connection to The Odyssey. I'm sorry to hear that. I've love to hear someone do for that poem what she's done for this one.

Many people have done line-for-line translations of Homer, Richmond Lattimore being the one most often recommended. Lattimore's verse has great dignity but (for me) not nearly so much clarity, and nowhere near the visceral punch.

I've read the Iliad in so many different translations that I have no idea whether this one would be good for a first-time listener. But if you have an interest in Homer, you owe it to yourself to give this one a listen at some point.

54 of 54 people found this review helpful

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Narration and translation matters

After having read Why Homer Matters (by Adam Nicolson), I tasked myself to read the source material, having never read it in my formal education. I managed to get half way through a different adaptation when it became a chore to continue so I abandoned listening. Recently, I was highly recommended this translation and I'm glad I gave it another try. The introduction alone gave a succinct encapsulation of "why Homer matters". The Iliad is the source of all storytelling and this translation was incredibly fluid and the narration was completely engaging! I was swept into the drama (which I felt lacking in my last attempt) and I think I would listen to anything read by this narrator.

25 of 25 people found this review helpful

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timeless

There are reasons this work has stood for 3000 years. We all face the same fundamental human dilemmas illustrated by Achilles, friends and enemies: Life, death, the struggling for meaning...and perhaps the fickle dictates of fate.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Excellent

This well written and masterfully narrated version has fast become my favorite version of this epic tale.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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A great translation

A great translation that brings forth the original spirit of the Iliad. The narration is wonderful, and the book is great to read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Clear and Precise Narration and Translation

The narrator did a fantastic job, restraining himself from poetic flourishes or "acting," but kept his pace and cadence appropriately throughout, never straining for effect.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Absolutely Thrilling

This translation and the performance together make an absolutely thrilling listen. A narration that sends a listener back to the text to enjoy it again and in another way is rare, indeed, and this production does just that.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A bold reading of the basis for Western literature

As was surely the intent of its composers, this poetic telling of the struggle of bodies and hearts and minds for the sacred city of Troy weaves together threads of myth, history, and human drama to form a living tapestry in the imagination of the listener.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Available to 21st Century Ears

The translation is fraught with grammatical oddments such as the use of nominative forms for objective pronouns, which is shattering to those who tend to be fastidious about such things. The narration is clean and not theatrical yet sensitive to the text. The pronunciation of classical names is unconventional but consistent. I never quite adjusted to Priam being pronounced “PREE-um” instead of “PRIGH” as in “high” — “PRIGH-am” or to Mount Ida as “EE-dah” instead of “EYE-dah.”

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Beginnings of words chopped off

The narration seems very strong — perhaps it would get a little tiresome after a while — but there is either a consistent audio problem or (less likely) tendency on the part of the narrator that leads to the beginnings of words and paragraphs being chopped off. This is sometimes pronounced, sometimes subtle, but very distracting and it’s hard for me to pay attention to anything else. The most obvious example is the name “Achilles” — very often at the beginning of a line (or a sentence in the introduction) the first vowel sound is cut off so the name comes through as [‘chilles] (kill-ease). Pretty soon I was listening for it, doubting whether I was hearing correctly, noticing it every time it happened, and for that reason was unable to enjoy the poem. Very disappointing. I’ll be trying a different translation (I already bought and abandoned the Fagles done by Derek Jacobi after realizing it was abridged).