The Iliad

Front Cover
University of Michigan Press, 2007 - Poetry - 464 pages

In 2002, the University of Michigan Press published Rodney Merrill's translation of Homer's Odyssey, an interpretation of the classic that was unique in employing the meter of Homer's original. Praising Merrill's translation of the Odyssey, Gregory Nagy of Harvard wrote, "Merrill's fine ear for the sound of ancient Greek makes the experience of reading his Homer the nearest thing in English to actually hearing Homer. The translator's English renders most faithfully the poet's ancient Greek---not only the words and meaning but even the voice."

Merrill has now produced an edition of Homer's Iliad, following the same approach. This form of rendering is particularly relevant to the Iliad, producing a strong musical setting that many elements of the narrative require to come truly to life. Most notable are the many battle scenes, to which the strong meter gives an impetus embodying and making credible the "war-lust" in the deeds of the combatants.

For many years, until his retirement, Rodney Merrill taught English composition and comparative literature at Stanford and Berkeley. In addition to his translation of Homer's Odyssey, he is the author of "Chaucer's Broche of Thebes."

Jacket photograph © 2007 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

"Other competent translations of Homer exist, but none accomplish what Merrill aims for: to convey to the reader-listener in translation the meaning and the sounds of Homer, coming as close as possible to the poetry of the original. Merrill accomplishes this virtuosic achievement by translating Homer's Greek into English hexameters, a process requiring not only a full understanding of the original Greek, but also an unusual mastery of the sounds, rhythms, and nuances of English."
---Stephen G. Daitz, Professor Emeritus of Classics, City University of New York

"This is a faithful and powerful rendition of the original Greek. With his deep understanding of the language, [Merrill] has succeeded in capturing the heroic essence of the Homeric Iliad."
---Gregory Nagy, Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature, Harvard University, and author of Poetry as Performance: Homer and Beyond


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Singing the Iliad
Book 1
Forced by Apollos punishment to return Chryses daughter Agamemnon takes Achilles prizegirl
After telling a deceptive dream Agamemnon orders withdrawal Odysseus halts it then scourges
Paris avoids Meneláos response to his challenge then agrees to fight from the wall Helen identifies
whom Macháon treats Agamemnon urges the lords roused by gods the armies battle
Without any gods the battle continues Agamemnon kills Adréstos Diomédes and Glaukos talk
who decides to retreat but emboldened by Paris answers Ajaxs jeers and leads
Poseidon encourages the Achaian lords to keep fighting Hera plots to make Zeus sleep aiding
Awakening Zeus sends Iris to stop Poseidon and Apollo to aid the Trojans Hektor fights
Yielding to Patróklos plea Achilles sends him out with the Myrmidons he kills Sarpédon
Achaians and Trojans battle over Patróklos body Hektor dons Achilles armor with gods
Achilles Thetis and seanymphs lament the heroes death Achilles rescues Patróklos body
Receiving the arms Achilles renounces his wrath Agamemnon blames Delusion which harms
Zeus sends the gods to aid both sides Achilles speaks and fights with Aineías whom Poseidon

Book 8
Book 9
Book 10
At a night council the Achaians dispatch spies Diomédes and Odysseus who capture and kill
Agamemnon rampages and is wounded Paris and Sokos wound Diomédes Odysseus Macháon
Battle rages at the wall which gods later will destroy the Trojans keep attacking despite
Achilles kills many men in the river who begs him to stop then threatens Hera sends
His parents beg Hektor to come in Hektor refuses Achilles chases him Athena deceives
chariotracing boxing wrestling footrace spearfight hurling a lump archery and spearthrow
Achilles keeps dragging Hektor angered Zeus says he must give up the body with Hermes

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About the author (2007)

Translator and professor Robert Fagles was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on September 11, 1933. He received a BA in English from Amherst College and a PhD in English from Yale University. While obtaining his degrees, he studied Latin and Greek on the side. He taught at Yale for one year and then joined the faculty at Princeton University as an English professor and remained there until he retired in 2002. While at Princeton, he created the university's department of comparative literature and received an honorary doctorate in June 2007. He was also a renowned translator of Latin and Greek. His first published translation was of the Greek poet Bacchylides (1961), which was followed by versions of The Oresteia by Aeschylus and the plays, Antigone, Oedipus the King and Oedipus at Colonus by Sophocles. Fagles was best known for his versions of The Iliad (1990), The Odyssey (1996) and The Aeneid (2006). Instead of being an exacting literal translator, he sought to reinterpret the classics in a contemporary idiom which gave his translations a narrative energy and verve. He died of prostate cancer on March 26, 2008.

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.

Rodney Merrill is retired and an independent scholar. He has taught at Stanford University, the University of San Francisco, and the University of California, Berkeley.

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