Thursday, May 19, 2016

Book Review: Homer's Iliad

Continuing with my journey through Ancient Greece in Historical Fiction, I moved to my fifth title, and the first that some may not consider historical fiction. The Iliad of Homer. Now, to be fair, unlike any of the other titles on the list I'm working through, The Iliad is attributed to Homer in the eighth century BCE, with the events portrayed occurring about four hundred years earlier.

My personal understanding of historical fiction is any story that takes place before the lifetime of the author telling/writing it. Using this definition, the Iliadcounts.

Unlike the other titles on the list however, The Iliad is written in Dactylic Hexameter (which you can read more about here), making it a little trickier to follow for the modern reader. Luckily, the story was originally an epic poem, so I went as close to that as I could by listening to an audiobook version (the poem takes roughly 9 hours to complete).

The story itself takes place during a few weeks in the final year of the ten-year siege of Troy and largely focuses on the characters of Achilles and Hector. The cast is huge, and the violence was shocking even for me (a pretty big fan of the horror genre). Also the gods of Ancient Greek mythology figure largely in the story and are often at odds with each other over who should win any given battle in the story.

For centuries, people have listed The Iliad as a must for anyone's reading lists, and although I got lost in the narrative and had to go back more than a few times, I found the experience rewarding and look forward to continuing my survey of Ancient Greece through historical novels.

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