The Iliad by Homer
REVIEW: 5 / 5 stars
The Iliad is the classic Ancient Greek tale of Achilles and Agamemnon, and the Siege and subsequent Fall of Troy. While Paris and Helen are mentioned, the protagonists are mainly “the Achaeans” AKA “the Danaans” camped out in their ships on the Trojan beaches.
I loved the description of the action sequences and that every character had their own backstory. No one was completely evil and no one was completely good either, which lends itself well to interesting encounters when different individuals face off one another. Sometimes the battle scenes would go on for a while, but the diversity in which deaths were described during all of the battles was so riveting! The drama and stakes are high. Key characters like Achilles, Odysseus, Athena, Apollo, Hector, and King Priam were captivating.
In all honesty, I read this after reading The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, so I was shipping Patroclus & Achilles so hard way before Achilles overreacts to Pactroclus’ death. I also saw the Netflix mini-series “Troy: Fall of a City” before reading this, so I’m imagining Louis Hunter as Paris, Bella Dayne as Helen, Jonas Armstrong as Menelaus, Joseph Mawle as Odysseus, Tom Westen-Jones as Hector, Chloe Pirrie as Andromache, Johnny Harris as Agamemnon, and Alfred Enoch as Aeneus. Mini-series with Joseph Mawle as Odysseus, please please please!
Regardless of what adaptation of this tale you might or might not have experienced previously, there is so much to enjoy in the original! I was pleasantly surprised by how active the gods and goddesses were, and the parts in which they changed the weather, inspired heroes, or directly interfered with human affairs were great reads.
I read an English translation, so I cannot speak to possible merits or reading this in Ancient Greek. Nonetheless, I really appreciated the narrative parallels in which events surrounding the deaths of Sarpedon, half-human son of Zeus, and Patroclus, comrade of Achilles, were described.
I would recommend this to any fan of Greece, Ancient Greece, Greek literature, Roman literature, Greek mythology, Roman mythology, classical literature, the classics, the Odyssey, Game of Thrones, and/or Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles and Circe novels. I loved it! Taking a refresher break, but then reading Homer’s The Odyssey this year, too!
The Odyssey by Homer
REVIEW: 5 / 5 stars
This is so good! The action scenes are really vivid and I am glad I got around to reading this classic in full. So much about this story isn’t portrayed well in the adaptations that have been made. The Odyssey is also shorter than The Iliad, so it was not too much to get through.
Although The Iliad is longer, I think reading The Iliad first gave me a better appreciation for the moments in The Odyssey when characters and references to the earlier story comes into play within the more popular story. Knowing Odysseus’ and his men’s history validates the struggles they have already gone through, and explains why they are so frustrated and sometimes do not listen to Odysseus’ orders. Odysseus’ men are not evil nor stupid; they are exhausted and haggard.
Furthermore, the scenes with Agamemnon’s, Achilles’, and Patroclus’ ghosts in the underworld are so much more profound after experiencing previous discussions with these characters on the shore of Troy. I thought the parallels made between Agamemnon’s marriage and Odysseus’ marriage were done really well.
I definitely advocate people to read this classic, even if you have seen many adaptations and therefore think you know all the key plot points in this story. Some highlights from the original that I liked include:
- Odysseus taunting the Cyclops unnecessarily,
- Penelope testing Odysseus to ensure it truly is him upon his return,
- and the satisfying slaughter of the insolent suitors in Odysseus’ house.
Madeline Miller’s characterization of Athena in Circe occupied much space in my mind whenever Athena was in play during The Odyssey.
Because of how prevalent it is in popular culture, I was surprised that the Trojan Horse is hardly mentioned. I was also previously unaware how much of Odysseus’ travels are dictated retrospectively instead of chronologically told. I do believe this supports the belief that The Odyssey was originally told with the intention of being heard rather than read.
I am so glad I read this; this kind of story is right up my alley. I recommend this to all fans of Ancient Greece, Greco-Roman stories, entertainment adaptations of these tales, classic literature, the classics, heroic narratives, the relationship between gods and men, and Greek mythology.