The Iliad, by Homer, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
• New introductions commissioned from today’s top writers and scholars
• Biographies of the authors
• Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
• Footnotes and endnotes
• Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
• Comments by other famous authors
• Study questions to challenge the reader’s viewpoints and expectations
• Bibliographies for further reading
• Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader’s understanding of these enduring works.
The epic song of Ilion (an old name for Troy), The Iliad recreates a few dramatic weeks near the end of the fabled Trojan War, ending with the funeral of Hector, defender of the doomed city. Through its majestic verses stride the fabled heroes Priam, Hector, Paris, and Aeneas for Troy; Achilles, Ajax, Menelaus, Agamemnon, Patroclus, and Odysseus for the Greeks; and the beautiful Helen, over whom the longstanding war has been waged. Never far from the center of the story are the quarreling gods: Zeus, Poseidon, Apollo, Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite.
The Iliad is the oldest Greek poem and perhaps the best-known epic in Western literature, and has inspired countless works of art throughout its long history. An assemblage of stories and legends shaped into a compelling single narrative, The Iliad was probably recited orally by bards for generations before being written down in the eighth century B.C. A beloved fixture of early Greek culture, the poem found eager new audiences when it was translated into many languages during the Renaissance. Its themes of honor, power, status, heroism, and the whims of the gods have ensured its enduring popularity and immeasurable cultural influence.
Bruce M. King studied at the University of Chicago, and has taught classics and humanities at Columbia University, Reed College, and the University of Chicago. Recently a Fellow at the Center for Hellenic Studies, King focuses on archaic and classical Greek literature and philosophy. He is currently a Blegen Research Fellow at Vassar College.
More than almost any other book, Homer's Iliad is meant to be spoken aloud, so it's a natural fit for audiobooks. With his fluid translation of ancient Greek into the rhythms of contemporary conversation, Lombardo has rendered the story of the final stretch of the Trojan War and its plethora of jealous, vengeful gods and warriors feasting, battling and endlessly speechifying, more boldly modern and recognizable than the remote marble tableaux conjured by most other versions. Lombardo's expert reading makes the tale's convolutions easy to follow despite its length, and though he doesn't always reach for the extremes one might expect (Achilles' crashing rage sometimes sounds like mere irritation, and soldiers faced with certain death can seem less than petrified), his voice does become mesmerizing. The interruptions between books, in which Sarandon reads synopses of the next, are jarring and unnecessary, since the synopses are printed in a handy booklet, along with a useful map and list of names and places. Similarly, while the thrumming cello and percussion theme that opens and closes each book sets the tone nicely, the electronic chords that sometimes accompany dreams, deaths or appearances of the gods are rather off-putting. Such quibbles notwithstanding, Lombardo's Iliad both sings to 21st century ears and holds true to Homer's original vision; the blind bard would be proud. Lombardo has also translated and narrated Homer's Odyssey for Parmenides.