The Iliad of Homer

Narrated by: Elizabeth Vandiver
Length: 6 hrs and 4 mins
5 out of 5 stars (1,008 ratings)

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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 listeners say about The Iliad of Homer

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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.

16 people found this helpful

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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.

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.

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.

26 people found this 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!

6 people found this 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.

6 people found this 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.

5 people found this 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.

9 people found this helpful

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Overblown and dull

This course has added something to my understanding of the Iliad, thence 2 stars.

But overall performance is very poor, I'm surprised with the positive reviews.

If you haven't read Iliad yet, listening to this course would by no means substitute the joy of reading the actual epic.
If you have, 90% of the course is useless to you.

1. There are some interesting points, but they are thoroughly buried under the tons of trite and repetitions.
Ms.Vandiver goes at great lengths in talking about silly points, that are absolutely obvious from the text of Iliad, like 'double action' where gods and people act simultaneously, that gods are immortal and people are mortal, that people don't know their fate, that gods are not the same as the christian god etc.
She repeats every point many times, first saying the same twice or thrice using slightly different words, then repeating everything when this topic appears in later lectures. Every time when the idea of fate is touched, you know beforehand that she will now talk about Achilles knowing his two possible fates unlike the rest of humans and so on.
I would say one 30-minute lecture is enough to cover all the valuable bits of information in this course, which in my opinion are
- a mention of Milman Parry's research;
- the difference between 'kleos' and 'timae' as different types of glory;
- observation that gods act silly and people don't;
and a couple more.
The rest of the course is a tedious retelling of the Iliad and endless repetition of very basic observations.

2. There are a few in my opinion important points the lecturer doesn't touch at all. To name one, the nature of Achilles's affection for Patroclus. Ms.Vandiver points to Achilles's overreaction to the latter's death, but not even slightly touches the question why it is so. I really expected not an explanation, but at least some suggestions on this issue.

3. Narrator's language leaves a lot to be desired. I already mentioned numberless repetitions. As though she is not sure if the audience understands English, so repeats the same different ways.
She also excessively uses words like 'extraordinary touching' or 'extremely vivid', which seem hardly appropriate in this rather dull course.


3 people found this helpful

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Good Course. Previously Part One of Two?

If you're new to the story of The Iliad then this is a great introduction. The course does a good job of covering the main themes of of the story, explains what's been lost in translation and through the passage of time, and why this work continues to to be appreciate to this day.

My one complaint: Based on the comments of the lecturer and the length of this course, it seems like this used to be half of a two part course on The Iliad and The Odyssey.

So while the quality of this coursework was high, it's a bit disappointing that it's only 6 hours.

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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 people found this helpful

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Erasure of Queer Representation

Extremely disappointed with this professor first ignoring Patroclus for most of the lecture and then describing Patroclus as Achilles “friend”. I’m really tired of academia erasing their relationship from The Iliad. They were lovers. Other ancient scholars knew this and only argued about who was the erastes and who was the eromenos. Most modern, not homophobic scholars, professors, etc accept this. Even older scholars from the 18th century knew this and referenced the fact that they were censoring the subject matter (see Johann Winklemann). There should be no place for homophobia in The Great Courses or Academia in general anymore.

1 person found this helpful

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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.

3 people found this 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.

4 people found this helpful

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  • rbooler
  • 07-25-18

Well read and informative

I have read the Iliad before and now my appetite has been rekindled. The lectures bring out the humanity of the story.

1 person found this helpful

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  • P. Donovan
  • 05-07-18

Fascinating and informative

Dr Vandiver's passion for and knowledge of The Iliad shines through in these insightful and thoroughly informative lectures.

1 person found this helpful

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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.

2 people found this 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

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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!

1 person found this helpful

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  • CONSCIOUSSHELF
  • 10-11-19

HELPS!

I love the Great Courses series. Professor Elizabeth Vandiver begins by talking about Homer and Epic Poems. She gives a really good overview of the background before talking about The Iliad, the gods, the symbolism, history... everything.

It helped me to understand parts of the Iliad I missed or didn't understand.

My only complaint is, it is so short! I would love more details because she really knows what she is talking about and does a fantastic job.
*There are more detailed books by her on amazon.com.au but no audible narration :,(

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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.