Critical review on the iliad

Iliad Homer Circa eighth century b.

Critical review on the iliad

Critical review on the iliad

Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey: I therefore seized gratefully on an explanation supplied in Alberto Manguel's book, in the form of a quotation from TE Lawrence.

Referring to the Odyssey, Lawrence speculates that: As the poet, whoever he or they - or even she, if you buy Samuel Butler's theory about the Odyssey may have been, was singing for his supper, it is reasonable to assume that the longer he sang, the more supper he got.

Iliad, Homer - Essay -

If this theory is correct, all I can say is that there must Critical review on the iliad been a heck of a banquet in progress when the early books of the second half of the Iliad were composed, because they have to go down as one of the biggest yawns in western literature.

This account of the oldest surviving western poems, their influence and reception, is immensely, if somewhat dryly, learned.

Practically every page groans under a weight of allusion. Not that there aren't some fascinating snippets along the way. In Byzantium, for instance, the blind bard's impact was such that a courtier, commenting on the beauty of the emperor's latest mistress, quoted a line about Helen from the Iliad.

Indeed, one of the most striking not to say depressing, in the light of the situation today things in the book is the brief sketch that follows of the education system in Byzantium, where schoolchildren were expected to compose poems and speeches imitating ancient models, as well as to know the Iliad by heart.

Imagine a modern schoolchild knowing half a dozen Shakespeare plays by rote The picture painted of intellectuals such as Saints Jerome and Augustine agonising over whether a love of the classics conflicting, as they felt it did, with the study of the Scriptures was compatible with their faith, and cooking up all manner of sophistical arguments to justify continuing to read their beloved Homer and Virgil, is also interesting, and rather endearing.

What Manguel fails to do is convey the magnificence of Homer, who, while he has his longueurs, is also capable of sublimity. Instead of showing us what the fuss was, and still is, all about, Manguel seems to take that as a given. The final book of the Iliad has to be regarded, for my money, as the first great work in western literature.

It proves the truth of an observation of Peter Levi's, quoted in the book, that Homer surpasses Virgil because he grasped that poetry "belongs to the defeated and the dead". It is littered with immortal lines, my personal favourite being when Achilles offers supper to Priam - come to collect the body of his son, whom Achilles has killed - with the words: The book exhaustively examines Homeric reception, from Virgil to Joyce, from Dante to Borges, but more often than not one feels bewildered, rather than enlightened, by the author's undeniable erudition.

If Manguel falls short of his material, Alessandro Baricco's novelisation of the Iliad fares no better. The device of retelling the story in a series of first-person narratives, put into the mouths of the various protagonists, feels clever on paper but in practice brings little to the party, while taking away that consistent, august, objective voice which is one of the Iliad's great strengths.

Critical review on the iliad

And there is a serious stylistic problem. Lesser material that, in the original, is at least lent sonority and gravitas by the music of Homer's hexameters, becomes, in the stilted prose of this rendition, merely banal.

In the context of Baricco's remorselessly flat narrative, traditional epic features such as epithet and simile are left stranded like driftwood washed up on the wrong stylistic shore. This may have something to do with the translation, but I suspect it is a problem inherent in the undertaking.

The great classicist Bentley remarked to Pope, of his translation of the Iliad:Find helpful customer reviews and review ratings for Iliad at Read honest and unbiased product reviews from our users. Interesting Finds Updated Daily. Amazon Try Prime All. Go Top critical review.

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ESSAYS, term and research papers available for UNLIMITED access. The Homeric Question. Criticism of the Iliad has always been intertwined with that of Homer's other great epic, the scholarship has historically been based on the Homeric Question.

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