My journey through the classics starts with this great masculine epic! I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Some things I really liked:
The tension between free will and fate. The gods are watching the Greeks and Trojans and influencing everything that happens, but they’re not all-knowing or all-powerful.
The epic similes. My favorite is from Book 13, lines 136-142:
The Trojans pressed forward in a body, and Hector led them straight on, raging, like a boulder rolling from a cliff that a river in winter flood has forced from the brow of a hill, having torn its foundation of remorseless rock with an immense downpour, and leaping high the boulder flies along, and the forest crashes beneath it; straight on it runs without wavering, until it reaches level ground; then it rolls no more, for all its urgency.
- The characters. I was surprised that they weren’t just all two-dimensional, indistinguishable soldiers. According to the translator’s notes, this points to the possibility that The Iliad was initially written down, rather than developed orally and written down much later. My favorite character was Nestor, the old man who likes to tell about the heroic deeds he accomplished when he was younger.
I read Caroline Alexander’s translation and found it poetic and understandable, but I know very little about the different translations and can’t compare it to any others.