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.
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There is a SIGNIFICANT quality difference between the translations of Iliad. Do yourself a favor and go with this one, the Lattimore translation.
The introduction to this audio version is surprisingly good. It is not the introduction written by Lattimore himself in my print copy of the Iliad, and it is much better as a general stage-setting to the text. I cannot fault the archaeological information, which is basic, or the discussion of literary devices and their origin as well as Homer's particularly fine usage of them. The overview of the first ten years of the Trojan War is excellent. I appreciate some of the ideas expressed about religion and spirituality in Classical Greece but the information given is based upon some outdated interpretations, especially as to the origins of the Olympian and other gods, and should be taken with a large pinch of salt. Other than this consideration--which any interested reader can follow up with his own research, and an uninterested reader will hardly care or remember later--the introduction, as I say, is very good.
The voice of Charlton Griffin is marvelous. It is filled with nobility and authority, richly textured, and precise.
An Excellent Iliad