Four Books of the Iliad: I, Vi, Xxii And Xxiv

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Kessinger Publishing, Jan 1, 2005 - Poetry - 136 pages
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1870. With introduction and notes. A translation of four books of the great epic poem by the poet, William Cullen Bryant.

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About the author (2005)

Homer is the author of The Iliad and The Odyssey, the two greatest Greek epic poems. Nothing is known about Homer personally; it is not even known for certain whether there is only one true author of these two works. Homer is thought to have been an Ionian from the 9th or 8th century B.C. While historians argue over the man, his impact on literature, history, and philosophy is so significant as to be almost immeasurable. The Iliad relates the tale of the Trojan War, about the war between Greece and Troy, brought about by the kidnapping of the beautiful Greek princess, Helen, by Paris. It tells of the exploits of such legendary figures as Achilles, Ajax, and Odysseus. The Odyssey recounts the subsequent return of the Greek hero Odysseus after the defeat of the Trojans. On his return trip, Odysseus braves such terrors as the Cyclops, a one-eyed monster; the Sirens, beautiful temptresses; and Scylla and Charybdis, a deadly rock and whirlpool. Waiting for him at home is his wife who has remained faithful during his years in the war. Both the Iliad and the Odyssey have had numerous adaptations, including several film versions of each.

Like so many successful New Yorkers during the nineteenth century, William C. Bryant was born and reared in New England. There, in his native Massachusetts, among the beautiful highlands of the Berkshires, he learned early to be a close observer of nature and a careful student of English versification. A child prodigy, he began to make rhymes before his tenth birthday, and in 1808 he gained some fame as the author of The Embargo, or Sketches of the Time, a satire in verse in which he echoed the conservative political sentiments of his elders. Soon, however, he found his own voice and point of view, and the poetry that followed, unlike so much of the literature that was being produced in the United States in the early decades of the nineteenth century, was considered by his contemporaries to be unmistakably American. During his own lifetime and since, his most famous poem has been "Thanatopsis" (from the Greek thanato and opsis, meaning "a meditation on death"), which was first published in the North American Review in 1817. Other poems, such as "Inscription for the Entrance to a Wood" (1817), "A Forest Hymn" (1825), and "To the Fringed Gentian" (1832), printed during the next several decades, brought him recognition both at home and abroad as the leading poet in the United States. Always solemn and stately, his verse seemed cold to James Russell Lowell, who humorously spoke of Bryant's "iceolation." But others praised Bryant for his careful artisanship, his commitment to romantic aesthetics, his celebration of nature, and his liberal faith in the historical destiny of the United States. Matthew Arnold called "To a Waterfowl" (1818) one of the finest short lyrics in the English language, and "The Prairies" (1833) and "Earth" (1835) have been seen as noble literary expressions "of the Jacksonian version of the American Dream." By training a lawyer and by profession a journalist, Bryant was editor-in-chief of the New York Evening Post from 1829 until his death in 1878. This position gave him enormous influence on national affairs, and his early support for the fledgling Republican party in the 1850s helped insure that party's success. When he was nearly 80 years old, he translated the Iliad and Odyssey of Homer into English blank verse. Bryant died in 1878.

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