Not Just Another Grouchy Grammarian

Musings about language, books, grammar, and writing in general

Review: The Iliad, by Homer: A New Translation by Caroline Alexander

When I was in fifth grade, my mom was on the school’s Book Fair (remember them?) committee. Knowing I loved Greek myths when a prose copy of The Iliad came in, she grabbed it for me. I won’t say it blew me away, but I wanted to be either Athena or Atalanta when I grew up. In fact, I was Atalanta for Senior Day in high school, but that’s another story altogether (Senior Day in my high school fell on May 8th, 1970, the day of the Kent State massacre, so I spent a large part of that day at school sitting in a stairwell, crying because one of the four students killed had been someone I knew through the anti-war movement.)

I fell in love with The Iliad right then, though, and meant to read it as poetry when I grew up. I even made a few abortive attempts at teaching myself Greek over the years (I have better luck singing than learning languages, sadly). Still, I somehow missed reading it as poetry, and I do feel the lack. Ms. Alexander’s translation is lovely but does not feel like poetry to me, and I suspect that the next time I read this I will definitely seek out a version in verse.

That said, I still love the story, and this version contains much more information-wise than the version that was obviously abridged to be appropriate for an 11-year-old girl in 1963. For example, it actually (in the introduction) explains why Achilles has had it with Agamemnon and the war in general.

Still, this is a credible, if somewhat pedestrian, version, and I will be listening to the whole thing. After all, I expect that I will listen to many different editions of this (and of The Odyssey when I get to it).

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One thought on “Review: The Iliad, by Homer: A New Translation by Caroline Alexander

  1. Susan Levy on said:

    Robert Fitzgerald’s blank verse translation is well regarded.

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