The Iliad (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) [NOOK Book]

Overview

The Iliad, by Homer, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes &...

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The Iliad (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview

The Iliad, by Homer, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

The epic song of Ilion (an old name for Troy), The Iliad recreates a few dramatic weeks near the end of the fabled Trojan War, ending with the funeral of Hector, defender of the doomed city. Through its majestic verses stride the fabled heroes Priam, Hector, Paris, and Aeneas for Troy; Achilles, Ajax, Menelaus, Agamemnon, Patroclus, and Odysseus for the Greeks; and the beautiful Helen, over whom the longstanding war has been waged. Never far from the center of the story are the quarreling gods: Zeus, Poseidon, Apollo, Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite.

The Iliad is the oldest Greek poem and perhaps the best-known epic in Western literature, and has inspired countless works of art throughout its long history. An assemblage of stories and legends shaped into a compelling single narrative, The Iliad was probably recited orally by bards for generations before being written down in the eighth century B.C. A beloved fixture of early Greek culture, the poem found eager new audiences when it was translated into many languages during the Renaissance. Its themes of honor, power, status, heroism, and the whims of the gods have ensured its enduring popularity and immeasurable cultural influence.


Bruce M. King studied at the University of Chicago, and has taught classics and humanities at Columbia University, Reed College, and the University of Chicago. Recently a Fellow at the Center for Hellenic Studies, King focuses on archaic and classical Greek literature and philosophy. He is currently a Blegen Research Fellow at Vassar College.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781411432376
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 6/1/2009
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 560
  • Sales rank: 47,928
  • File size: 936 KB

Meet the Author

Homer
Bruce M. King studied at the University of Chicago, and has taught classics and humanities at Columbia University, Reed College, and the University of Chicago. Recently a Fellow at the Center for Hellenic Studies, King focuses on archaic and classical Greek literature and philosophy. He is currently a Blegen Research Fellow at Vassar College.

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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Read an Excerpt


From Bruce M. King’s Introduction to The Iliad

 

The Iliad, then, even as it sings the immortality of its heroes, suggests an end to their imagined era and to the political order that is located there. Indeed, one of the great feats of the Iliad is to pose a critique—centered upon the withdrawals and speeches of Achilles—of the heroic order and the possibilities that it offers for mortal happiness. From this point of view, the essential work of the Iliad is one of negation—again, the epic is unjust with respect to the old, but potentially beneficent with respect to the future. The old heroic order—for all its blinding beauties and exaltations, for all its aspirant motion toward the realm of the aesthetic—is also revealed as unable to quell strife and its attendant violence, as conducive to no just stability and, finally, as a desolation to its own greatest heroes (as the complaints and career of Achilles will dramatize). To the extent that it thematizes the obsolescence of the old heroic order, the Iliad reveals an orientation toward the future; the poem cannot invent the forms that will govern the future, but it can present to the future a kind of tabula rasa, upon which the poet’s audience might reinscribe new meanings out of the wreckage of the old, upon which the heroes might be reassembled and once again directed toward human ends.

If the warrior order is permanently unmade over the course of the Iliad, it is upon the Shield of Achilles (XVIII.540–681) that the poet depicts a collective way of life closer to the historical experience and communal ethos of his late eighth- or seventh-century audience. The Shield is forged by Hephaestus, the god of craft, at the request of Thetis, Achilles’ mother. This new and immortal shield replaces Achilles’ prior shield, which he had given to his beloved Patroclus, who lost it—along with his life—in combat with Hector, the Trojan prince and defender. In a distillation of pure fury following the death of Patroclus, Achilles has resolved to return to battle to avenge the death of Patroclus, with the full knowledge that his return will necessitate his death at Troy. When the Dawn-goddess delivers the gift of the Shield down from Olympus to Achilles’ camp, his companions, upon seeing the images worked upon the Shield, are struck with fear and avert their gaze (XIX.16–18). They cannot look upon the “splendor” of the Shield, for in the depiction of the way of life there—which is that of the poet’s own audience—the heroes see their own obsolescence. Achilles, however, gazes long upon the brilliance of the Shield with a combination of adrenal anger and deep pleasure; his eyes gleam back in response, as if themselves afire. The vision that he sees upon the Shield—of a world without heroes, of a world without the relentless martial strife of the Iliad itself—is the source of a renewed, visceral anger for Achilles because it is a world whose possibilities are not meant for him. Yet the vision is also a source of pleasure to him because it is of a world that his own great paroxysm of killing rage in the final quarter of the poem will usher in. In his pleasure at the sight of the Shield, Achilles can, as it were, acknowledge his own role in the foundation of the world to come, even if his role is preeminently one of extraordinary negation: Achilles is the hero whose discontent fully lays bare the failures of the heroic order from the point of view of mortal happiness, while his surpassing strength permits him to make that discontent murderously actual, as he devastates much of the heroic order itself in the final books of the poem. His perfection is such that he is both the culmination and the destruction of the traditional form.

Among the images upon the Shield, it is the depiction of the wedding procession and, in the passage immediately following, of a communal process of adjudication in a case of murder that are foundational for the city-state (XVIII.554–560 and 560–574); both images appear on the second ring of the Shield, in the city at peace. In the wedding procession, the “high-blazing” torches illumine a scene of music and revelry; the sight provokes wonder: The promise of the wedding—which we do not see concluded, but always in motion—is one of social unity, the joining together and mutual strengthening of families withinn the city. In the Iliad itself, such unity is always in pieces, defended in speech even as it is sundered in action. The Achaean cause at Troy is, of course, the recovery of Helen, whose wedding to Menelaus is overturned by her flight, whether compelled or voluntary, to Troy. The martial expedition to Troy presents itself as a defense of the conjugal union and, by extension, of the social work that the wedding accomplishes—primarily, the joining together of families and the establishment of a new social unit that might, in turn, offer guest-friendship to others and to outsiders, thus creating further links of social exchange and comity. And yet, as Achilles complains with great and piercing sarcasm in book IX, the larger social principle epitomized by the defense of Helen and her marriage has been granted no general applicability, but seems to apply only to Agamemnon and Menelaus.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 287 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 14, 2009

    A classic that's last for over 2000 years

    The Illiad, by Homer, is definitely one of the best books I have ever read. It actually is not necessarily a book; more like a poem. This poem-book tells of the legendary Trojan War between the Greeks and the Trojans. The whole thing kicked off when Hector ran away with the Greek king's daughter, Helen. They then fled to Troy with it's near impassable structured walls. Zeus brought back the news to Mount Olympus, place of the gods, and every god took up arguments for both sides. Half sided with Troy while the other half sided with the Greeks. As the Greeks battled with the Trojans, it became clear that they were losing. So they decided on a trick. A selected few men would hidee inside a great wooden horse, dubbed, the Trojan Horse. The Trojans would wheel the horse in think it was a great prize. When nightfall came, the men jumped out and !opened the gate for the whole Greek army to come in. Troy was defeated soundly and the book ends with the funeral of Hector. A ten out of ten!

    10 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2008

    The Greatest Poem I've ever Read

    I'm only a few chapters into the book, but by far, this is the greatest poem I've ever read. Homer combines drama, action, and mythology into one. This is definately reccomended.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2004

    Anger Be Now Your Song Immortal One...

    The Iliad, as with other Greek poetry, was poetry intended to be recited orally as opposed to being read. Fitzgerald's backgroung in poetry brings out the lyrical passion of the Iliad so prized by the Greeks as no other translation has done. Other translations are also hampered by archaic English language and idioms that make little sense today. I strongly recommend this translation more than any other.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2007

    Don't let this book scare you!

    I bought this with the Sparknotes on The Illiad, which summarizes each 'book' (chapter) in the story. Once you have an idea of what's happening chapter by chapter, the book expands on the summary, and is really becomes an awesome read. Homer can describe in vivid detail the combat sequences. Once you get past the fact that this version is written in it's poetic form, and you read it just like a regular prose version, you will enjoy it. It is very affordable at under 8 bucks, so making notes, underlining parts that really strike you etc... won't make you feel like you are defacing anything. It's a must for any library.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2010

    The amazing story of The Iliad writen by Homer

    The Iliad is the story of the battle of Troy for a women named Helen who was taken captaive from here husband. All of the Greek city states were involved in this war and many famous heroes. The war lasted for 20 years and each side had many deaths. Two of the most famous men who fought at Troy were Achilles and Odyseus these two men made sure that they won the battle and got Helen back. They did not realise what a daunting task they would have infront of them until they arrived at Troy. The walls were said to be 100 feet tall and 50 feet thick at most parts. The battle of Troy is one of the most famous wars in all of history because of two things, it was the first to be over a women and have the gods help them in their victory. Also that it had lasted so long and how strategic each side had fought in the war.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2008

    Well..

    Well, it's funny when you refer to this as a book. It actually is an epic. If lacking the knowledge of poetry, an epic is in fact a branch of poetry. Overall, amazing, far better then the odyssey.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 14, 2010

    Cover a Turn-Off for Children

    Love this book! A must read for anyone who wants to understand where our epic tradition comes from - from the Bible and from Homer and Virgil. As someone who recommends books to kids, this particular edition is a hard sell because of the dull cover.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2008

    Excellent read

    The Iliad is definitely a must-read for anyone. As a student, I was required to read this for my World Literature class. As far as the mythology is concerned, it is absolutely fascinating, but even the historical perspective is amazing. This epic poem is probably still THE standard for Greek mythology.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2006

    Definitely an Epic

    I picked up this book because I figured it would help to better understand the allusions and references in future novels. Not only did The Iliad help with this but it also was a great read. The introduction by King was informative and emphasized the transformation of war into art.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2006

    An wonderful experience

    This book was confussing at first but after I look up some of the plots in the story I remembered seeing a movie about the Iliad. It was an incredible Book

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2013

    I wish it included number lines

    I really enjoyed the book, but we had to read it for school and the ebook does not include number lines so it made it hard to follow in class.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2013

    2 blow

    Take ur little x and go dy with it up ur butthole its a good book

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2013

    x

    x

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2012

    Iliad

    I read this for a project I have to do for my end of the year grade...it is awesome!

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  • Posted January 7, 2010

    A Must by for Mythology Fans

    The Iliad may be over 3000 years old, but the enthralling adventure is still apart of modern literature. Robert Fitzgerald has written a great translation of the Iliad. Along with translating the Iliad Fitzgerald creates a story of his own. The image of war is greatly emphasized in Fitzgerald's version of the book. He puts in image of the carnage of the battlefield then he does on just the story of Achilleus.
    Robert Fitzgerald paints an image of a bloody battlefield into the minds of his readers and in this he makes his translation unique. Most of the other translations of the Iliad put much emphasis on Achilleus and his journey to Troy. Robert instead tells the stories of everyone else and the hardships of the war. Here is an example of the image Robert paints of the battlefield, "Now both men disengaged their spears and fell on one another like man-eating lions or wild boars," (pg163 line298). That quote describes the battle between Hektor and Aias with such detail. By describing them as animals it helps in explaining the carnage of war.
    Robert Fitzgerald's Iliad is an amazing story about the struggles of the Achaians and the Trojans. Due to the fact Achilleus wouldn't fight makes the struggle for the Achaians a great one. The Trojans meanwhile have Hektor on their side, which gives them much morale throughout the many battles with the Achaians. Achilleus' anger is very prominent throughout the Iliad. His anger sparks many war changing moments for both sides. For example: "Not if his gifts outnumbered the seas sands or all the dust grains in the world could Agamemnon ever appease me-not till he pays me back full measure, pain for pain, dishonor for dishonor,"(pg209 line470). These are the words of Achilleus when Agamemnon tries to give gifts to him to appease his anger.
    Roberts translation is one that will not be forgotten. He rights or a new Iliad, not one of Achilleus, but one of a great war. Your time is well spent if you plan on reading this great book. Readers will not be disappointed in the enthralling adventures of the Iliad.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    greek mythology is reall

    greek mythology is reall this tealls you about it

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2007

    oh, yes and that tragic pride....

    ....the Iliad comes alive in its humor, tragic dimension as a lesson in human nature and the nature of conflicts and violence in general. A very apt and current manifesto of blind fury, deceit, petulence and an occasional moment of profound dignity.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2007

    I HATE THE ILIAD!

    The Iliad by Fitzgerald is by far the longest and most boring book I have ever read. It took me weeks to finish and bored me to tears. The book was overly descriptive, dull, and gory. I would not recommend it to teenagers or children as it is a classic and usually a college level read. My history teacher forced me to read it freshman year and I absolutely despised the book. This is a book for older men to read if they are into reading long winding passages with flowery dialogue and stupid details. There is so much blood, killing, and useless information. Too many characters are named in the book and there are over a hundred minor characters that are mentioned once and forgotten.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2005

    Stunning Brilliance !

    Laypersons and technicians alike will benefit from Prof. King's brilliance....King incisively probes the earliest form of war-mongering (relevant for today's events) as well as the highly lyrical structure of The Iliad. King¿s introduction shows The Iliad as pure art, or life imitating art, at the hands of an early empire builder and campaigning civilization...the Greeks.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2004

    The unknown Homer.

    (Before I start, let me presume you know the story).If people want you to read Homer they say things like: he's the father of western literature or: he stood at the cradle of our civilization. They probably are right but let me give you another reason to read the Iliad: the humour of Homer. I give two examples. When things turn sour for the Greeks and the Trojan soldiers almost destroyed their camp, Nestor - the military advisor for he's to old to fight - calls the young Greek soldiers at his side and tells them how brave and invincible he was when hé was young. You can imagine the Greeks listening politely but impatiently to Nestor's sermon. What Nestor means is that the youth of today is worthless. I've heard this before. What makes you smile is the bragging of Nestor and the fact that apparently the youngsters are worthless since three thousand years. Later on, when some of the gods reproach Zeus with not helping the Trojans, Zeus answers: 'You know my wife! If she finds out I'm helping Troy she will be mad at me!' If Homer was the father of literature then Zeus was the father of the henpecked husbands. If you are reluctant to read Homer, try to discover some other examples of Homer's humour.

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