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The Iliad, which tells of the siege of Troy by the Greeks, is an unforgettable tale of nations at war and of the courage and compassion heroic soldiers show upon the field of battle. The Odyssey is the story of the Greek hero Odysseus and the many marvels and challenges he encounters during his ten-year voyage home to Ithaca after the end of the Trojan War. This edition employs Samuel Butler's classic translations of both texts.

Each title in the series presents a classic work in an attractively designed edition bound in durable bonded leather. These books make elegant additions to any home library. While every attempt has been made to ensure stock availability, occasionally we do run out of stock at our stores. Prices and stock availability may vary between Webstore and our Retail Stores.

Fulfilment Centre Email: sims kinokuniya. Check Retail Stores' phone number. Homer just planted the seeds of his death in my brain, and they grew from my constant pondering over them. What causes violence? We say that something eternal, God or the gods, cause violence because they control our fate, they appear to us as birds and as wisdom and lead us on our night-blind path of life, but they lead us erratically: drunk, hysterical drivers and us with no seat belt, so we grasp for mere survival.

Homer describes those motivations for violence so beautifully. But, ultimately I think that is all bullshit, and I think the bullshitness of it is there in this story, too. It is there in Achilles challenging Agamemnon.

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It is there in Achilles mourning Patroclus. What a shame. Anyway, though, people are not violent because we were betrayed or because of supernatural trickery. Our violence is ours; it is our choice and our responsibility.

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Life is barbarous and cruel around us, but that is its nature, and we can only shape ourselves through and around it. When we expect life to be gentle and obedient, we are usually doing nothing more than justifying our own cruelty. It is blood-poundingly, eye-achingly told. As my professor said, everyone should read this, and if you can read it in the sun, lying in a hammock after your graduation, all the better. View all 19 comments. May 05, Alison rated it it was amazing.

But now I know that the best way to keep insomnia at bay is to get out of bed, hitch up my chariot, tie the corpse of my mortal enemy to the back, and drive around for a few hours, dragging him, until I cheer up and can go back to sleep. The Iliad is unmatched, in my reading, for works that describe the bloody, ridiculous, selfish lengths people will go in order to feel better. The Iliad suggests that even at its most glorious, war can be advocated only by people with the emotional lives of spoiled four-year-olds View all 20 comments. Jul 09, Lisa rated it it was amazing. Do you really LIKE to read line after line of gory murder, repeated endlessly from song to song?

I evaded the question, speaking of fantastic opening lines, of classic art and immense influence on other authors. And then I capitulated - a little: "The Odyssey is much more interesting as a story! As a reader, you will want to tackle them at some point, and the rules you apply to more recent works of fiction don't count. You award yourself 5 stars for finishing, for knowing more than you did before starting. But then my son killed the Iliad with a spear as sharp as those of Homeric warriors. He compared it to Greek tragedy. They are thought-provoking, exciting, and classic.

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Troy's fall from the perspective of Philoctetes is pure literary bliss. The Iliad is not. But it remains Jan 17, Riku Sayuj rated it it was amazing Shelves: epics , r-r-rs , philosophy , spiritual , translated , religion , myth-religion , classics , reference , favorites. There might be some truth to this, a universal truth.

Significantly however, this is not how the ancients understood it. They understood war as the catastrophe that it is. Precisely because of this the Blake exclamation might have been more valid than it had a right to be. This is why there is a need to revisit the original tragic purpose of the Epic - most commentators would say that as above this original purpose was against ALL wars.

But there is much significance to the fact that the epic celebrates the doomed fight of two extinct peoples. The Iliad starts on the eve of war and ends on the eve of war. In that clash of the Titans, the epic defines itself and creates a lasting prophecy. In Medias Res The Iliad opens in medias res , as it were, as if the epic-recitation was already on its way and we, the audience, have just joined. The art of Iliad is then the art of the entrance, the players enter from an ongoing world which is fully alive in the myths that surround the epic and the audience.

The poem describes neither the origins nor the end of the war. After the initial skirmish with Agamemnon and the withdrawal that forms the curtain-raiser, Achilles plays no part in the events described in Books 2 through 8; he sits by his ships on the shore, playing his harp, having his fun, waiting for the promised end. On the other hand, Achilles is almost non-human, close to a god. Zeus and the Gods know the future, they know how things are going to unfold. Among the mortals fighting it out in the plains of Ilium, only Achilles shares this knowledge, and this fore-knowledge is what allows him in the guise of rage to stay away from battle, even at the cost of eternal honor.

Fore-knowledge is what makes Achilles who is the most impetuous man alive wiser than everyone else.

Hector on the other hand takes heed of no omens, or signs, nor consults any astrologer. He is the rational man. He is the ordinary man. Roused to defense. But everything Hector believes is false just as everything Achilles knows is true - for all his prowess, Hector is as ordinary a soldier as anyone else except Achilles , privy to no prophecies, blind to his own fate.

That he can save Troy all by himself. But, it also charts the metamorphosis of Achilles from a man who abhors a war that holds no meaning for him to a man who fights for its own sake.

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On the other side, it also charts how the civilized Hector, the loving family man and dutiful patriot Hector becomes a savage, driven by the madness of war. Before that, an interlude. That is when Achilles delivers his famous anti-war speech. The reply is a long, passionate outburst; he pours out all the resentment stored up so long in his heart. He rejects out of hand this embassy and any other that may be sent; he wants to hear no more speeches.


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Not for Agamemnon nor for the Achaeans either will he fight again. He is going home, with all his men and ships. But though it might seem as preordained, it is useful to question it closely. The confrontation is crucial and deserves very close scrutiny. We must ask ourselves - What brings on this confrontation? On first glance, it was fate, but if looked at again, we can see that Homer leaves plenty of room for free-will and human agency - Hector had a choice. But not Achilles - instead, Achilles' choice was exercised by Patroclus.

This calls for a significant re-look at the central conflict of the epic: it might not be Hector Vs Achilles! Patroclus and Hector instead are the real centerpiece of the epic - Achilles being the irresistible force, that is once unleashed unstoppable. It is a no-contest. Hence, the real contest happens before.

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This is because, that unleashing depended entirely on Hector and Patroclus - the two heroes who only went into battle when their side was in dire straits - to defend. Both then got caught up in the rage of battle, and despite the best of advice from their closest advisors, got swept up by it and tried to convert defense into annihilation of enemy - pursuing kleos! It is worth noting the significant parallels between Hector and Patroclus, while between Hector and Achilles it is the contrasts that stand forth. Hector, instead of just defending his city, surges forth and decides to burn the Achaean ships.

Now, the Achaean ships symbolize the future of the Greek race. Homer implies that the mass death of these leaders and role models would have meant the decimation of a civilization.


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  6. Which means that the Achaeans cant escape - in effect, Hector, by trying to burn the ships is in effect calling for a fight to the death! This decision was taken in the face of very strong omens and very good advice: In the battle at the trench and rampart in Book Twelve, The Trojans Storm the Rampart , Polydamas sees an eagle flying with a snake, which it drops because the snake keeps attacking it; Polydamas decides this is an omen that the Trojans will lose. He tells Hector they must stop, but Hector lashes out that Zeus told him to charge; he accuses Polydamas of being a coward and warns him against trying to convince others to turn back or holding back himself.

    Hector is driven on by his success to overstep the bounds clearly marked out for him by Zeus. Thus, sadly, Hector pays no heed and surges forth. Which is the cue for the other patriot to enter the fray - for Patroclus. Thus Patroclus too shows that knows no restraint in victory; his friends too warned him in vain, and he paid for it with his life. By this time Hector had no choice, his fate was already sealed.