Aug 04, 07
Read in June, 1999
This is one of those purchases that you're glad you made about halfway into the book. In this case, it will be halfway into the Iliad. You really need to purchase both books together in order to get the full effect.
Achilles and Agammemnon's argument (over a woman) starts the storyline. I was swept up into the battle on the shores and walls of Troy, the stories of mighty Ajax, wizened Nestor, the warring Diamid, and other characters and actions. The last four or five chapters of the Iliad, where Achilles goes to war against the Trojans, is reading for the ages. I'll never forget it.
The Iliad does not end with the sacking of Troy. That story is recounted in the Odyssey instead (yes, it surprised me too). Instead what you get is a vast panapoly of multi-dimensional, richly textured characters struggling to achieve their will in war and in peace.
There are a lot of very good political and personal lessons in these epics as well, esp. in the use and application of power and might. There's a lot of rich psychological hints and tricks that will help anyone listening closely to grasp human nature better. Vengeance, love, honor, hatred, fear, courage and the imposition of the will are all on display in this translation, and John Lescault's narration brings these stories alive. I found myself rooting for the Argives against the Trojans in the Iliad, and was sad at the end of the glorious round of battles between Hector and Achilles. The battle sequences are detailed blow-by-blow (sometimes with gory detail).
The Iliad and the Odyssey are two parts of the same story, and I'm glad I didn't miss either one during highschool.