“The Iliad”

Homer (translated by Robert Fagles)

I’ve started using trips abroad to read books I “should have read”. I pack light, taking only a couple of books. That makes it easy to finish a fat classic that I’d be easily distracted from at home. So for a trip to Greece and Turkey “The Iliad” was an obvious choice. It’s one of those books I knew about but hadn’t read. Spoiler alert: there’s no Trojan Horse in the book. Fagles’ translation is easy to read and is helpfully but lightly footnoted.

Just like countless readers and listeners have done for thousands of years, I enjoyed the book. It’s vivid; the pride of Achilles, the shewdness of Odysseus: these are real people. I admit that the character who resonated the most with me was Nestor. At my age it’s natural that I’d find the oldest of the Greeks the most sympathetic.

Though we didn’t got to Troy on our trip, seeing Bronze Age artifacts including swords and boar tusk helmets at the archaeological museum in Athens, not to mention contemporary shipwrecks at the marine musuem in Bodrum, greatly enhanced my experience of reading “The Iliad”. It made me glad to have waited so long to read it.