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Archive EPIC > Epic The Iliad by Homer (July to September)

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message 1: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new)

Lesle | 6281 comments Mod
The Iliad by Homer

Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy (Ilium) by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles.

Although the story covers only a few weeks in the final year of the war, the Iliad mentions or alludes to many of the Greek legends about the siege; the earlier events, such as the gathering of warriors for the siege, the cause of the war, and related concerns tend to appear near the beginning. Then the epic narrative takes up events prophesied for the future, such as Achilles' imminent death and the fall of Troy, although the narrative ends before these events take place. However, as these events are prefigured and alluded to more and more vividly, when it reaches an end the poem has told a more or less complete tale of the Trojan War. 683 pages


message 2: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new)

Rosemarie | 8919 comments Mod
It is interesting to see the wide array of characters in this book. My favourite characters are Hector, from Troy, and Achilles, from the Greek side. Hector is noble and mature, whereas Achilles can be immature at times, but is generally the most interesting character in the epic.


message 3: by Bernard (new)

Bernard Smith | 2176 comments The topless towers of Ilium. The book that defines the epic.


message 4: by Piyangie, Classical Princess (new)

Piyangie | 1193 comments Mod
I love the number of Gods I meet here. You can gain a good knowledge on Greek mythological Gods and Goddesses through this epic poem.


message 5: by Bernard (new)

Bernard Smith | 2176 comments Yes, a huge number of gods of both sexes. The modern Greeks have abandoned them, so we have to go to India for such numbers now.


message 6: by Bernard (new)

Bernard Smith | 2176 comments Although the book is read to this day, in modern times it was thought to be fictional. I suggest reading how Schliemann refused to believe this, and eventually found the remains of Troy in the place described by Homer.


message 7: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new)

Lesle | 6281 comments Mod
Piyangie how is it going?


message 8: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new)

Lesle | 6281 comments Mod
The Cause Of The War?

The war between Greeks and Trojans broke because Helen, the wife of King Menelaus was taken by Paris, a Trojan. Menelaus was King of Sparta. Helen was considered as the most beautiful woman in the world.


message 9: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new)

Lesle | 6281 comments Mod
The Olympian Gods taking sides?

Athena, Hera and Poseidon were the Olympian Gods who supported the Greeks. On the other hand, Ares, Aphrodite and Apollo supported the Trojans.


message 10: by Piyangie, Classical Princess (new)

Piyangie | 1193 comments Mod
Lesle wrote: "The Olympian Gods taking sides?

Athena, Hera and Poseidon were the Olympian Gods who supported the Greeks. On the other hand, Ares, Aphrodite and Apollo supported the Trojans."


This was the most interesting thing I found. I enjoyed their battle more than that of Greeks and Trojans! :-)


message 11: by Piyangie, Classical Princess (new)

Piyangie | 1193 comments Mod
Lesle wrote: "Piyangie how is it going?"

I read it couple of months ago, Lesle. I wont be reading it, but surely join with the discussion when I can. :-)


message 12: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new)

Lesle | 6281 comments Mod
Is any of the Members reading this or plan to?


message 13: by Piyangie, Classical Princess (new)

Piyangie | 1193 comments Mod
Lesle wrote: "The Cause Of The War?

The war between Greeks and Trojans broke because Helen, the wife of King Menelaus was taken by Paris, a Trojan. Menelaus was King of Sparta. Helen was considered as the most ..."


That and because Paris refused to return her on demand or so as I understood. Somehow I felt that Greeks were the injured party and Paris was an arrogant man who did not heed to the advise of his elders.


message 14: by Inkspill (new)

Inkspill (runinkspill) I've been working up to read this - whilst doing this I found a copy of this translated by Chapman, and it's so neat, the first part is a retelling, and it starts with:

"Book 1

The trouble starts with a girl. ...
"

Written like this, I think I can follow it, well I'm hoping

I'm trying to remember - do we have until September to read this?

I'll try to start reading this next week, or soon after I finish reading a very funny modern retell on Moliere's Miser


message 15: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new)

Rosemarie | 8919 comments Mod
You have until the end of September, Inkspill.


message 16: by Claire (new)

Claire  | 241 comments Piyangie wrote: "Lesle wrote: "The Cause Of The War?

The war between Greeks and Trojans broke because Helen, the wife of King Menelaus was taken by Paris, a Trojan. Menelaus was King of Sparta. Helen was considere..."


I think Paris was just very much in love. Also, he felt he was right to have this woman as she was promised to him by the gods.


message 17: by Inkspill (last edited Aug 05, 2018 03:36AM) (new)

Inkspill (runinkspill) Claire wrote: "I think Paris was just very much in love. Also, he felt he was right to have this woman as she was promised to him by the gods. "

Hi Claire, for a moment there in reading your post I saw Helen as a parcel / property.Not really sure what it was like for women back then - but for Helen to leave, and I say this before I've started reading it, it couldn't have been too bad,

Rosemarie wrote: "You have until the end of September, Inkspill."

Excellent - thanks Rosemarie - I'm hoping to start this over the weekend - hmmm, 24 books - I may not finish this by end of September but I'll try.


message 18: by Cynda (last edited Aug 06, 2018 12:27AM) (new)

Cynda  (cynda) I first read The Iliad as a sophomore in college in a World Classics class. I was very fortunate, unbelievably fortunate, to have an assigned class partner who was a full-fledged Athena worshipper. I would never have made it through the class without him. The other partner we had--a triad--was a beginning pagan. I so lucked out.

I will start reading with you in a couple of days. I will start with Gutenberg until my book arrives in the mail.


message 19: by Bernard (new)

Bernard Smith | 2176 comments The world of the ancient Greeks and Trojans is very different to ours in many ways. But we still have war and gods and love. It will be a long haul, but if we stick together we can do it !!!


message 20: by Inkspill (new)

Inkspill (runinkspill) Hey, Cynda & Bernard,

I'm not sure how but I've got to the end of book three - there are so many characters - I might have to read it again.

Another surprise - I thought this would be a tough read - and it is but I'm also enjoying it - I really like how the story is structured, I guess I should call it a poem

And I am surprised to find Helen / Paris storyline is a minor one. I'll let you all read it before I say more.

In the meantime, what I am struggling with is the idea of 'hero' but really their fate is in the hands of the gods - I'm trying but it's just not making any sense to me.

yeah, I think I'll read these three books again.


message 21: by Cynda (new)

Cynda  (cynda) Inkspill. There is no hero. The humans often operate from a place of hubris--extreme egos. The gods are willful and affect human lives at will.

A good starting place for understanding more might be to read parts of Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton. The parts to read: The Trojan War and The Fall of Troy. The book is often available at uni libraries and city libraries.


message 22: by Claire (new)

Claire  | 241 comments Inkspill, the women in Greece at that time were considered a bit above slaves... they were indeed knd of propriety. Athens in the 5 th century BC was the first democracy, of free man ( no women, no slaves) .


message 23: by Bernard (new)

Bernard Smith | 2176 comments The position of Roman women was better, but not by much. The best status was that of the Etruscan women. It is likely that the Romans copied (though not completely) their female status from the Etruscans, who they copied for most areas of their society.


message 24: by Cynda (new)

Cynda  (cynda) Inkspill. My error. There are heroes in The Iliad.

I am following my own suggestion of reading Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton. There I see that Part Four has a discussion of the Heroes of the Trojan War.


message 25: by Cynda (new)

Cynda  (cynda) In preparation of receiving my copy ofThe Iliad, I am reading the Edith Hamilton. Within the last year I had said that I was done with reading the ancients. I seem to have changed my mind. I know that The Iliad is the one selection that makes me want to scream with who-slew-who minutiae. I keep reminding myself that it is not minutiae to those who lived the experience and those who lived and died based on the results of that war.


message 26: by Inkspill (new)

Inkspill (runinkspill) Thanks all for background info and book recommendation, this helps me to have a better sense of how to understand this one.

Cynda, it will be good to know what you find in Hamilton's book, I've made a note of it - and it's a good idea, smarter than how I'm trying to do this - I'm reading two versions at the same time.

Reading this is an insight of maybe how women were viewed back then, in book 1, some women mentioned are referred to as prize. For me, an interesting narrative point, as it kind of mirrors the Helen story - that is if it's seen as her leaving as involuntary.

I've almost finished re-reading book 2, and I'm glad I read it again - there's loads going on.


message 27: by Cynda (last edited Aug 07, 2018 05:35AM) (new)

Cynda  (cynda) Hi Inkspill. Some things come to mind quickly about why I keep Edith Hamilton's book on my shelf.

1. The backstory is explained. The Judgement of Paris-- sets up some of which gods side with Trojans and which with Greek.

2. The major events are explained in an encapsulated form. No who-slew-who pages. Important participants in the war are introduced in basic ways.

3. When I first read the Iliad and Odyssey and the Aeneid, I needed background for who-is-who. That information is also made available as a tiny bit expansive dictionary of the gods who play significant parts in these books. Of course this information is now available online, but the most important info is easily available her in one book.

4. The telling of the major works are told using texts of various writers. So that we see in Hamilton's books explanation of what is pre-story or hardly mentioned by Homer.

I just bought a new hardback copy in very good condition for under $5. So a very small investment.

Thanks for asking.


message 28: by Inkspill (last edited Aug 08, 2018 03:28AM) (new)

Inkspill (runinkspill) Cynda wrote: "Hi Inkspill. Some things come to mind quickly about why I keep Edith Hamilton's book on my shelf.

1. The backstory is explained. The Judgement of Paris-- sets up some of which gods side with Troja..."


yep - it does sound smart to have this book, I'll keep a look out for this book and if it gets too tough, maybe I'll get a copy

I did do a bit of surfing to see if I could work out my own question re: what is a 'hero' when the god's decide their fate

And the 2 most helpful ideas I found were:
- a hero is a person the god's favour
- in today's terms this concept is no different to 'it's god's will'

Now I get it a bit more, I can move forward - well, until the next stumbling block :)


message 29: by Cynda (new)

Cynda  (cynda) I thought later: What about the local library. Maybe they have a copy of Edith Hamilton's book. If the library is on your way on your daily do-s.


message 30: by Cynda (last edited Aug 08, 2018 03:42AM) (new)

Cynda  (cynda) Found a Duke University study guide online:

people.duke.edu/~wj25/UC_Web_Site/epi...


message 31: by Bernard (new)

Bernard Smith | 2176 comments Re: A hero is a person with the god's favour ... It is always good to have a powerful backer, whether it is Zeus or Donald Trump.


message 32: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Habbie Surely, not the latter? That backing might actually backfire!


message 33: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new)

Rosemarie | 8919 comments Mod
The gods were always feuding with each other, certain gods supported the Trojans, especially Aphrodite, since she was given the golden apple.
The two losers backed the Greeks, also known as Achaians, as well as many of the powerful male gods.
The Iliad takes place in the final year of the war, which I believe is the tenth year.
Two of the main Heroes are Achilles and Hector, son of the Trojan king Priam.
Hector is one of the noblest characters in the Iliad and Achilles is the most interesting.
When you are reading it you will notice that certain descriptive phrases are uses for each hero. Scholars think that this was probably used by the storytellers(bards) to keep track of all the characters, since this was originally an oral epic.


message 34: by Claire (new)

Claire  | 241 comments https://www.theguardian.com/books/boo...

Has a nice article on Achilles as a hero.

The hero question is not an easy one. I’m trying to find a good article to explain it right. A very good book (but expensive ) is The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours .
I cite from the intro:
‘In Greek tradition, a hero was a human, male or female, of the remote past, who was endowed with superhuman abilities by virtue of being descended from an immortal god. Despite their mortality, heroes, like the gods, were objects of cult worship. Nagy examines this distinctively religious notion of the hero in its many dimensions, in texts spanning the eighth to fourth centuries bce: the HomericIliad and Odyssey; tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides; songs of Sappho and Pindar; and dialogues of Plato. All works are presented in English translation, with attention to the subtleties of the original Greek, and are often further illuminated by illustrations taken from Athenian vase paintings.’


message 35: by Inkspill (new)

Inkspill (runinkspill) post subject: backstory

thanks for useful links, comments and suggestions, I've got no further in reading this and instead been looking into the backstory

(and yeah there is probably an easier way to do this - like the book Cynda is suggesting, which sounds smart, so appreciate the link)

seriously - the curse on the house of Atreus - and the backstory of Tantalus and then Atreus and his brother and ... a mixture of daytime soap and horror. It took me a while to put the pieces together, as you say Cynda, it's a bit all over the place but - oh, okay - I wasn't expecting that


message 36: by Inkspill (last edited Aug 09, 2018 03:33AM) (new)

Inkspill (runinkspill) post subject: hero

The idea of the hero is not an easy one to grasp, I like the Guardian article, and Claire you quoting the book was interesting – I keep thinking the missing link for me is somehow tied with the perception of religion back then ??? Maybe. Rosemarie, the first line of your post made me think that these gods are just like bickering, spoilt children, Bernard’s post mentions ‘powerful backer’ – which I suppose is a way to look at it.

I’m kind of grasping what hero is, but it is tricky when Book 1 (view spoiler)

But this story was set in a different time, for people who had a different way of looking at things, I just need to keep that in mind.


message 37: by Claire (new)

Claire  | 241 comments Inkspill wrote: "post subject: hero

The idea of the hero is not an easy one to grasp, I like the Guardian article, and Claire you quoting the book was interesting – I keep thinking the missing link for me is someh..."


I understand why you’re confused, but: Achilles’ mother is a nymph, and immortal. As such she can be begged of or prayed to.
But in essence you are right: the Greek hero is not an easy subject:-) btw: You can follow an online course on the term)


message 38: by Claire (new)

Claire  | 241 comments Inkspill wrote: "post subject: backstory

thanks for useful links, comments and suggestions, I've got no further in reading this and instead been looking into the backstory

(and yeah there is probably an easier wa..."


I think it is best to jump in and check facts once in a while. I thaught the Iliad myself in Greek (years ago....) and this was the way we started with it. Very short intro and then read. What is helpful is to follow the story by summaries of the parts and a list of names and functions.


message 39: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new)

Rosemarie | 8919 comments Mod
Inkspill, Achilles is often immature, but not tricky or shifty like some of the others.


message 40: by Inkspill (new)

Inkspill (runinkspill) Claire - re: Thetis - oh, it makes sense now. And thanks for pointer to book and free course (if surveyed), it looks really interesting

until now, I've never thought about how the idea of hero has changed


Rosemarie, yep that's true about Achilles - unlike tactical Odysseus :)


message 41: by Bernard (new)

Bernard Smith | 2176 comments Re Thetis: She was a sea nymph, whose main role seems to have been to be mother of Achilles.


message 42: by Cynda (last edited Aug 14, 2018 04:04AM) (new)

Cynda  (cynda) I have today received my copy of The Iliad, a Penquin Classics edition. So glad I waited for my book.

Beyond summary, the editor makes connections and describes things to watch for. There are other things the editor describes that would be important to others to are doing a more serious literary study. Maps and characters are included. Instead of having endenotes way at the end of the book, the explanatory notes head the chapter. I have never seen this style of notes. It may be a really good place to locate notes.

I am off to read, My goal is 2 books a day. I have read the Iliad before, so this is a deeper read--though I am not by far doing a serious read.


message 43: by Bernard (new)

Bernard Smith | 2176 comments Good news Cynda! If you stick to your goal, you will soon overtake me.


message 44: by Inkspill (new)

Inkspill (runinkspill) Cynda wrote: "I have today received my copy of The Iliad, a Penquin Classics edition. So glad I waited for my book.

Beyond summary, the editor makes connections and describes things to watch for. T..."


that sounds like a neat edition

2 books a day - wow!!! - yeah, I won't be able to keep up with you, I'm aiming to get to at least Book 10 by the weekend


message 45: by Inkspill (new)

Inkspill (runinkspill) Bernard wrote: "Re Thetis: She was a sea nymph, whose main role seems to have been to be mother of Achilles."

Reading Book 8, though Thetis is not in it, I think I see what you're getting at as the focus is on the gods and what influence they have in this war.

in the background reading I found that the apple-Paris (I kind of remember it's called the Judgement of Paris) incident happened at her wedding to Peleus.

Thetis & Peleus are Achilles' parents

And the story starts with Achilles falling out with Agamemnon over a woman but they see as a prize that more about their honour and pride.

And though between Books 1 - 8 Achilles is not a big part of the narrative, I think he's the main / v important character

So, far that's what I've gleaned from the text - re: Achilles (and Thetis)


message 46: by Inkspill (new)

Inkspill (runinkspill) book 9 - a touch lost

The Greeks are not doing well and need Achilles to put aside his grievances and help them fight the Trojans

I may have it wrong

the spelling is different -- Iphianassa -- but there is no mention of Iphegenia (or Electra)


message 47: by Inkspill (new)

Inkspill (runinkspill) paragraph is missing from above, not sure where it went

it asked how can Agamemnon offer Iphegenia to Achilles as a peace offering when he already sacrificed her to the gods at Aulis for better wind to reach Troy

that paragraph came before the comment on the spelling


message 48: by Claire (new)

Claire  | 241 comments https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iphia...

Also: Iphigenia was not dead. She was saved by Artemis.


message 49: by Cynda (last edited Aug 15, 2018 11:21AM) (new)

Cynda  (cynda) That was a plan 2 books a day. Then I did not read yesterday. So revision: The plan is to read 2 books every Time I sit down to read The Iliad. I have already read the text before, did some research before I started again, and have read various otjer ancient texts--not many-- dozen or so. Once upon a time English major.


message 50: by Bernard (new)

Bernard Smith | 2176 comments Always wise to be adaptable Cynda. As Rabbie Burns wrote: The best laid plans of mice and men, gang aft agley.


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