An illustrated retelling of the events of Homer's tale, focusing primarily on the battles between the Greeks and the Trojans after Achilles stomps off in a huff over Agamemnon's arrogance and insults. In an extremely crowded field, this version from Strachan (The Flawed Glass, 1990, etc.) has several virtues. While explaining everything clearly, it does not condescend to its target audience. The flowing prose makes no attempt to mimic Homer, but is possessed of a rhythm of its own. Its main advantage, however, is found in the vigorous descriptions of the fighting, matched by Ambrus's atmospheric picturesgory but not too realistic. Strachan, although a bit forward about Hector's private name for his son, Scamandrius (a.k.a. Astyanax), pitches the story toward those who are keen for the "exciting parts," and readers will cheer and moan over the battles. Those who elect to read this aloud may succeed in converting members of the Mortal Kombat generation to fans of Homer's epic story.
"A thousand watchfires were burning upon the plain,/ and around each, fifty men sat in the glow of the firelight,/ and the horses stood alongside the chariots, munching/ white barley and oats, and waited for dawn to arise." Stephen Mitchell's translations of Gilgamesh, Genesis, Job, and the Tao de Ching have established him as a preeminent translator of ancient as well as modern texts. His new rendering of one of the pillars of Western literature reconfirms that reputation. As one writer previously noted, his translations sing with the clarity and vigor of their originals.
“Fitzgerald has solved virtually every problem that has plagued translators of Homer. The narrative runs, the dialogue speaks, the military action is clear, and the repetitive epithets become useful text rather than exotic relics.” –Atlantic Monthly
“Fitzgerald’s swift rhythms, bright images, and superb English make Homer live as never before…This is for every reader in our time and possibly for all time.”–Library Journal
“[Fitzgerald’s Odyssey and Iliad] open up once more the unique greatness of Homer’s art at the level above the formula; yet at the same time they do not neglect the brilliant texture of Homeric verse at the level of the line and the phrase.” –The Yale Review
“What an age can read in Homer, what its translators can manage to say in his presence, is one gauge of its morale, one index to its system of exultations and reticences. The supple, the iridescent, the ironic, these modes are among our strengths, and among Mr. Fitzgerald’s.” –National Review
With an Introduction by Gregory Nagy
“Spirited and provocative . . . a nobly bold even rousing venture . . . it would be hard to find a faster, livelier, more compact introduction to such a great range of recent Iliadic explorations.”
“Penetrating . . . reflecting her own skills [Alexander] provides her own translation of an entire chapter . . . a real bonus for the reader, comparing favorably with Lattimore and Fagles.”
“A tour de force, Alexander . . . We can see from what [Alexander] has done that a fine translation may well be the most elegant and revealing form of commentary.”
“True to the living word of the original Greek, Caroline Alexander’s new translation invites us to engage directly with this tradition. When I read her verses I can almost hear the music of Homeric performance.”
“Caroline Alexander has done admirably in rendering the meaning of the Homeric text faithfully and in suitably dignified language. The format gives a genuine sense of reading a verse epic. Her line-numbers match the Greek, which will make this version convenient for use by college teachers and students.”
“Caroline Alexander’s Iliad is miraculous . . . Its language conveys the precise meaning of the Greek in a sinewy yet propulsive style . . . In my judgment, this new translation is far superior to the familiar and admired work of Lattimore, Fitzgerald, and Fagles.”
"[As] close to the original as is possible without reading the original Greek. It is refreshing, accurate, and direct."
"The energetic and rhythmic translation is quite faithful to the original."
There are many modern verse translations of The Iliad, including those by Robert Fitzgerald, Richmond Lattimore, Robert Fagles, Stanley Lombardo, and, more recently, Anthony Verity and Stephen Mitchell. Powell (emeritus, classics, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison; Writing and the Origins of Greek Literature), a distinguished Homer scholar and published poet with multiple books on the study of ancient Greek text and classical mythology, faces two challenges common to all translators of Homeric verse: how to capture the essential vigor and concision of oral poetry while remaining readable and how to represent a highly stylized and archaic idiom without sounding stilted. Powell is successful on both counts, offering a clear and energetic translation. VERDICT Staying true to Homer's poetic rhythms, Powell avoids the modified iambic lines found in Lattimore's, Fagles's, and Mitchell's works. He also avoids Lombardo's tendency to cast Homer in contemporary language and Fitzgerald's anachronisms. This fine version of The Iliad has a feel for the Greek but is more accessible than Verity's translation. Highly recommended for all libraries.—Thomas L. Cooksey, Armstrong Atlantic State Univ., Savannah