Translated by Stanley Lombardo
Introduction by Sheila Murnaghan
I am going to give this five stars because I believe Homer deserves it. As for this translation I was pleasantly impressed. I understood the translation easily and the introduction was well written.
First, I will comment on the translation. I found it to be an easy-ish (because when was the Iliad an easy read) translation. I connected well with the language and enjoyed the plot. I would like to look at a classic edition to analyse and comment on how correct the translation was, but as a first reader of the Iliad I enjoyed this translation. I have to admit that I needed to photocopy the main character list from the back of the book and highlight in three colours the Trojan's, Greeks, and Gods. It was the only way that I could keep up with all the characters for the first quarter of the book. There are multitudes of characters in the beginning sections of this epic! Once I had the characters organised the rest of the reading flowed much easier. Now my copy of the Iliad will remain in my hands because it is well annotated. To open a well annotated book means the book was well read and enjoyed.
I got utterly annoyed with Achilles! Was I meant to or did he just wind me up the wrong way? That is a question I will forever be asking myself as I continue to absorb my thoughts of Iliad's plot. For now, I remain with my first impression, "he annoyed me!". He acted like spoilt brat and had now remorse over the raging war until it involved one of his friends - that he sent out there!?! I told you; he really got on my nerves.
The rest of the characters played their parts well. I connected with each of them. The Gods made the story more than a 'war' story. The outcome was realistic and well finished. The story is not necessarily for the faint hearted, it a graphic piece of writing in places. Overall I ended up being pleased that I had endured to the end, it is a great piece of classical literature.
Now to the Introduction. It was clear and well set out. It gave me a good insight into what I was about read. This introduction will serve the purposes of any student studying the Iliad. The only issue that I had, is that by the end of it I felt I had actually read the book. Is there any need to read the book as a student when the introduction explains the whole story? Maybe this is what some students need, hence study the introduction. As for me I mainly wanted to read the Iliad so I may have been better off skipping the introduction to the end.
I found the 'Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia - A completely Revised and Updated Edition of the Classic Encyclopedia of World Literature' a fantastic asset to accompany the reading of Iliad. It gave a simply low-down of each chapter which kept me on track with where the plot was heading.
Do I recommend the reading of Iliad? Yes I do. I think that it worth at least attempting once in a life time. I also recommend reading it with a pen/pencil and highlighter and annotating while you read, it helped me to connect to the characters and plot. If I hadn't ruined my copy with all my highlighting and notes then it would have just be a book that was read because 'I should' rather than a piece of literature that I am pleased to have picked up and read well.
"... accurate, idiomatic, fast-paced and highly readable. Its sustained flow will enable students and other contemporary readers to enjoy the poem's narrative, similes, and speeches and should help them to engage critically with its central ethical problems. Sheila Murnaghan's lucid Introduction instructively situates the epic in its historical and cultural contexts, elucidates its representation and critique of traditional heroism, and calls attention to the main interpretive problems it raises for ancient audiences and modern readers"
- Seth Schien, Professor of Comparative Literature, University of California Davis