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by Homer and Stanley Lombardo

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So great is the impact of ancient Greek literature on Western culture that even people who have never read Homer's Iliad or The Odyssey know a lot about them. The Trojan Horse, Achilles' heel, the Sirens' call, Scylla and Charybdis--all have entered popular mythology, becoming metaphors for the less heroic situations we face in our own lives. Ever since these oral poems were committed to paper (probably in the 8th century B.C.E.), people have been translating them. The version of Iliad translated by Stanley Lombardo is a brave departure from previous translations; Lombardo attempts to adapt the text to the needs of readers rather than the listeners for whom the work was originally intended. To this end, he has streamlined the poem, removing many of the stock repetitions such as the infamous "rosy-fingered dawn," or rewriting them in ways dependent on their context. What emerges is a vivid, lively rendition of one of the world's great stories of men and war.

But classicists, beware: This Iliad has something of a '90s sensibility, from the cover art (a photograph of the D-Day Normandy landing) to Achilles' Rambo-like diction. It might well outrage the purists, but for those who remember their musty high-school reading of Homer's great epic with a barely suppressed yawn, Lombardo's energetic translation is just the version to change their minds.

From Library Journal
With the publication of Robert Fagels's impressive translation of the Odyssey (Viking Penguin, 1996, pap.) and now this equally impressive translation of the Iliad by Lombardo, this year seems to blazon something of a Homeric renaissance. Lombardo concedes from the start that "Homer's musicality cannot be heard in any kind of English," and so he does not compose his Iliad in hexameters or, for that matter, in any standard, regular meter. Instead, based on his experience as an oral performer of Homer's poetry, he writes the lines "based on the cadences of natural speech." The result is a Homer that "is brought to life" for the modern reader with no loss of original integrity?the achievement of a scholar, translator, and performer. Accessible and readable as Lombardo's translation is, it is rendered even more so by the superb, comprehensive introduction by Sheila Murnaghan, which provides a rich but lucid discussion of the classical context of the epic. A helpful appendix provides thumbnail sketches of the major characters, a catalog of combat deaths, and an "Index of Speeches." This handsome, superbly done Iliad will be read and enjoyed by everyone. Highly recommended for all libraries.?Thomas F. Merrill, formerly with Univ. of Delaware
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Richard P. Martin, Princeton University
It is hard to overstate the attractions of this translation. In a rhythm sinewy and flexible, with language that is precise, lyrical and fresh, Lombardo's Iliad pulses with all the power and luminosity of the Greek. He shows extrasensory sensitivity to the images and aural effects of the ancient poem. There are brilliant touches on every page. . . . The narrator's voice sounds contemporary without losing authority or resonance, while his heroes from an archaic time speak a racy, hardbitten idiom completely recognizable to our own Iron Age. Altogether this is as good as Homer gets in English.

The New York Times Book Review, Daniel Mendelsohn
In taking the existing text of Homer as a starting point for a brand-new performance of his own, Stanley Lombardo is following in the footsteps of the company of "Homers" who assembled that text to begin with--not breaking with tradition but joining its powerful current. That his daring new Iliad is so specifically of and for our time reminds us ... that Homer's poem is for all time.

Language Notes
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Greek



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