My Bookman and I have been listening to The Iliad on audio. This is a fun way to read the book, just letting the words wash over the brain. It also makes it difficult to skip things, like the catalog of ships. That got tedious though my Bookman brought some humor to it when he started calling it the “Bibiliad” because all those names and cities and numbers of ships they sent started sounding a lot like all those pages of so-and-so begat so-and-so in the Bible.
We have now reached the actual fighting. I was surprised at how long it goes before anyone tosses a spear. But now that the fighting has started it goes in earnest. There are spears through chests and Homer describes precisely where the spear goes in. There are spears through heads. Spears through sides that pierce bladders. Spears cutting off arms. Rocks also get thrown and people get crushed. It is graphic and bloody. The only relief is when Homer takes a brief moment to tell us that the dead man’s armor was stripped off and sent back to the vanquisher’s tent. The spoils of war.
I’ve got the book of Fagles translation and read the introduction written by Bernard Knox. It is a long one but well worth the time. I had to laugh because there is an authorial controversy with Homer like there is with Shakespeare. Did Homer really write The Iliad? Was it a poem that was created before Homer and he just happened to be the first to write it all down? Did Homer write the core of the poem and then it was revised and expanded by a bunch of other people? What I wonder is, does it really matter all that much? If you’re a Homer scholar it apparently does.
Knox does a good job at explaining all the various controversies surrounding Homer and The Iliad including whether the poem was an entirely oral creation or was a written creation (probably a combination of the two). The whole introduction is so interesting and I am enjoying listening to the poem so much I wouldn’t mind reading more about all of it sometime.
I’m also planning on reading the Fagles translation to pick up some of the stuff I have missed listening to The Iliad. I will try to get to that soon and hope to catch up to where I am in the audio which shouldn’t be too hard since I plan on skipping over the “Bibiliad” part.