The Iliad and The Odyssey (Fagles translation)

Overview

Gripping listeners and readers for more than 2,700 years, The Iliad is the story of the Trojan War and the rage of Achilles. Combining the skills of a poet and scholar, Robert Fagles brings the energy of contemporary language to this enduring heroic epic.

If The Iliad is the world's greatest war story, then The Odyssey is literature's greatest evocation of every man's journey through life. Here again, Fagles has performed the translator's task magnificently, giving us an Odyssey...

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The Iliad and The Odyssey

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Overview

Gripping listeners and readers for more than 2,700 years, The Iliad is the story of the Trojan War and the rage of Achilles. Combining the skills of a poet and scholar, Robert Fagles brings the energy of contemporary language to this enduring heroic epic.

If The Iliad is the world's greatest war story, then The Odyssey is literature's greatest evocation of every man's journey through life. Here again, Fagles has performed the translator's task magnificently, giving us an Odyssey to read aloud, to savor, and to treasure for its sheer lyrical mastery.

Each volume contains a superb introduction with textual and critical commentary by renowned classicist Bernard Knox.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
No home library is complete without Homer's classics, commonly accepted as the source from which all of Western literature has sprung. This handsome hardcover box set features the definitive modern translations of the texts by Princeton University's Robert Fagles.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670779642
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/28/1996
  • Edition description: 2 Volume Boxed Set
  • Pages: 1
  • Sales rank: 346,457
  • Product dimensions: 6.81 (w) x 9.94 (h) x 3.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Homer

Robert Fagles is Arthur W. Marks '19 Professor of Comparative Literature, Emeritus, at Princeton University. He is the recipient of the 1997 PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation and a 1996 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, to which he has been elected. His new translation of Virgil's Aeneid will be published in fall of 2006.

Biography

We know very little about the author of The Odyssey and its companion tale, The Iliad. Most scholars agree that Homer was Greek; those who try to identify his origin on the basis of dialect forms in the poems tend to choose as his homeland either Smyrna, now the Turkish city known as Izmir, or Chios, an island in the eastern Aegean Sea.

According to legend, Homer was blind, though scholarly evidence can neither confirm nor contradict the point.

The ongoing debate about who Homer was, when he lived, and even if he wrote The Odyssey and The Iliad is known as the "Homeric question." Classicists do agree that these tales of the fall of the city of Troy (Ilium) in the Trojan War (The Iliad) and the aftermath of that ten-year battle (The Odyssey) coincide with the ending of the Mycenaean period around 1200 BCE (a date that corresponds with the end of the Bronze Age throughout the Eastern Mediterranean). The Mycenaeans were a society of warriors and traders; beginning around 1600 BCE, they became a major power in the Mediterranean. Brilliant potters and architects, they also developed a system of writing known as Linear B, based on a syllabary, writing in which each symbol stands for a syllable.

Scholars disagree on when Homer lived or when he might have written The Odyssey. Some have placed Homer in the late-Mycenaean period, which means he would have written about the Trojan War as recent history. Close study of the texts, however, reveals aspects of political, material, religious, and military life of the Bronze Age and of the so-called Dark Age, as the period of domination by the less-advanced Dorian invaders who usurped the Mycenaeans is known. But how, other scholars argue, could Homer have created works of such magnitude in the Dark Age, when there was no system of writing? Herodotus, the ancient Greek historian, placed Homer sometime around the ninth century BCE, at the beginning of the Archaic period, in which the Greeks adopted a system of writing from the Phoenicians and widely colonized the Mediterranean. And modern scholarship shows that the most recent details in the poems are datable to the period between 750 and 700 BCE.

No one, however, disputes the fact that The Odyssey (and The Iliad as well) arose from oral tradition. Stock phrases, types of episodes, and repeated phrases -- such as "early, rose-fingered dawn" -- bear the mark of epic storytelling. Scholars agree, too, that this tale of the Greek hero Odysseus's journey and adventures as he returned home from Troy to Ithaca is a work of the greatest historical significance and, indeed, one of the foundations of Western literature.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of The Odyssey.

Good To Know

The meter (rhythmic pattern of syllables) of Homer's epic poems is dactylic hexameter.

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