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The War That Killed Achilles: The True Story of Homer's Iliad and the… (2009)

– tekijä: Caroline Alexander

Muut tekijät: Katso muut tekijät -osio.

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioKeskustelut / Maininnat
5722031,173 (4.06)1 / 37
Many have forgotten that the subject of the "Illiad" was war--not merely the poetical romance of the war at Troy, but war, in all its enduring devastation. This groundbreaking reading of Homer's epic poem restores the poet's vision of the tragedy of war, addressing many of the central questions that define the war experience of every age.… (lisätietoja)
  1. 10
    Story of the Iliad (tekijä: E. T. Owen) (librorumamans)
    librorumamans: An older, book-by-book companion to Homer's poem that opens up the richness of that work by its close, yet highly readable, analysis of the events, the themes, and the structure of the Iliad. With Owen's book in hand, you will come to understand why the Iliad holds such a place in Western literature.… (lisätietoja)
  2. 00
    Troy and Homer: Towards a Solution of an Old Mystery (tekijä: Joachim Latacz) (longway)
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englanti (19)  ruotsi (1)  Kaikki kielet (20)
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 20) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
I gave Caroline Alexander’s study of the Iliad five stars, only because I wasn’t given the option of six stars. This book was that good. I have been reading and studying Homer since the mid 1980s and this book is a perfect companion that reaffirmed some of my interpretations but also opened my eyes to many new possibilities.

Throughout this work, she challenges our assumptions about the Iliad and its epic hero, Achilles. She weaves her analysis to show how Homer really perceives war, heroes and humanity. I despised the Iliad the first time I read it. I thought it was all about anger, rage, machismo, and the glorification of war and killing. She talks about this in the preface (p. xiv) as well as throughout the text and the endnotes, discussing how Homer was received *and* deployed by different groups with different needs over the ages. She notes that the geographer/historian Strabo wrote about how disastrous the Trojan war was, not just for the Trojans but for the the Greeks (p. 220). Alexander sums it up so perfectly “That after the roll of centuries, this same Iliad, whose message had been so clearly grasped by ancient poets and historians, came to be perceived as a martial epic glorifying war is one of the great ironies of literary history … Homer’s insistent depiction of the war as a pointless catastrophe that blighted all it touched was thus adroitly circumvented” (p. 220). This makes me think of Horace’s “dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” ('it is sweet and proper to die for one’s country') and the retort from Wilford Owen, an English soldier and poet in World War I, who called that saying the “old Lie.”

Interlaced with thoughts on the epic, Alexander talks about each of the heroes and gods, various social and religious practices, and discusses theories about where and when these ideas originated and when they were incorporated into the Iliad itself. Some ideas came from the Mycenaean era, others from about the time the Iliad was written down. Some character traits were Greek, others from further east. She brings in other parts of the Epic Cycle, that include scenes from the Judgement of Paris through the Nostoi (“returns” of the main characters, of which the Odyssey is a standalone work).

On death, she has an excellent insight, writing “The slain warriors of the Iliad are mostly obscure fellows who have received no previous mention in the epic, but who are evoked– brought to life– at the moment they are killed by some small personalizing detail” (p. 66). In the next paragraph, she writes about how most of the deaths are of Trojans, yet “the Iliad ensures that the enemy is humanized and that the deaths of enemy Trojans are depicted as lamentable. The Iliad is insistent on keeping to the fore the price of glory” (p. 66). And in general, she shows that Achilles believes (both in the Iliad and in the Odyssey where he appears in the Underworld) that “Life is more precious than glory; this is the unheroic truth disclosed by the greatest warrior at Troy” (p. 98). Two years after Alexander’s book was published, Alice Oswald published Memorial, a ‘translation’ of the Iliad that only included the death scenes. It was a harsh read, beautifully wrought, like the reading of the names of the dead from some list. But, as Alexander notes, with some personalizing detail included. Alexander closes her book by noting that Homer ended his epic with “a sequence of funerals, inconsolable lamentation, and shattered lives. War makes stark the tragedy of mortality” (p. 225).

On leadership, I really enjoyed her thoughts on Achilles vs. Agamemnon. She discusses a potential confrontation between these two during the funeral games for Patroklos. She writes that it serves as a “bittersweet reminder of the difference real leadership could have made to the events of the Iliad” (p. 200) where Achilles defuses the situation in a “masterpiece of diplomacy” (p. 201).

Except for Book XXII, Alexander uses Richmond Lattimore’s classic translation of the Iliad from 1951. I’d read Lattimore’s Odyssey, but never his Iliad, so I blame her for enticing me with his translation. I bought it even before finishing her book. As for her translation of Book XXII, I have to mention that similar to when I read Emily Wilson’s translations of Seneca’s tragedies, I was reading Alexander while listening to classical music. Her rendition of Book XXII pairs most excellently with Schubert’s Death and the Maiden.

In a way, her translation of one book of the Iliad reminded me of Lord Derby’s translation of the Iliad in the 19th century. He translated only Book I, and shared it with some friends. He didn’t publish it. Everyone liked it so much that they encouraged him to translate the rest, which he did a few years later. In Alexander’s case, six years after releasing this analysis of the Iliad, she published her own translation of the full Iliad, which quickly became my favorite translation of Homer.

This book is worth perusing and owning simply for the massive endnotes. I don’t think I’ve ever read EVERY end note in a book. This time, I did. They were insightful and led me deeper into particular issues. They offered a mass of references for new books that I now need to check out.

There is so much here yet she keeps her narrative focused and flowing. I can’t say it enough, this is a well-executed book. I suggest you read this book and her full Iliad. It will be time well spent. ( )
  drew_asson | Dec 3, 2020 |
Caroline Alexander has written a book that briefly explores what Homer's Iliad is all about and what the epic poem tells us about war. This is not a translation of the Iliad, nor a history of the war, with archaeological evidence etc, so the sub-title is misleading. It is simply a description of the epic poem (with quotes) follwed by the author's commentary and analysis. The writing is clear and the author's arguments and observations easy to follow. Alexander also includes additional historical details to help add context to the story. An especially interesting aspect is what the Iliad has to "say" about the psychological effects of this war on the humans involved, and how this is still relevant today. I found this to be an interesting and thoughtful examination of the Iliad and the characters mentioned in the epic. However, it would have been wonderful if Caroline Alexander had decided to explore some of the themes more fully. ( )
  ElentarriLT | Mar 24, 2020 |
Really 3 1/2 stars. I started out really liking this book, then got bored with it as the second half became repetitive. The first half, though, is full of interesting insights and anecdotes and factoids, so still well worth reading. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
Mostly straightforward literary discussion of The Iliad, and quite interesting, with speculation on potential authors based on textual analysis (i.e., Homer vs. somebody else); speculation on the dates and times of various sections and added or omitted material (for example, that there should be a “catalogue of horses” after the “catalogue of ships”), and links to older works (is the relationship between Achilles and Patroklos based on the relationship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu?). In this last case, author Caroline Alexander notes that Achilles, being raised in the wild by a centaur, is more like Enkidu than like Gilgamesh. The Iliad, of course, is a world literary treasure and reading this discussion is well worth it; however I found myself just as interested in Alexander’s historical and archaeological notes.

This historicity of the Trojan War was a subject of much debate among archaeologists, until Heinrich Schliemann came along and demonstrated a site that fit the descriptions for Homer and Virgil. Unfortunately, Schliemann was more of a looter than an archaeologist, and the fact that he was right about the location of Troy didn’t do much to endear him to the professionals, nor did the fact that he smuggled a lot of gold jewelry out of the Ottoman Empire, which didn’t make things easy for subsequent archaeologists). (The jewelry - dubbed “Priam’s Treasure” by Schliemann but at least 1000 years too early - disappeared from Berlin in 1945. In 1993, to no one’s particular surprise, it turned up at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow. The Russians have not expressed a great deal of enthusiasm about giving it back). Schliemann was wrong about the specific stratum identified as the Homeric Troy (Schliemann thought Troy II; turned out to be Troy VI). However, the archaeological world now agrees that yes, there was a city called “Ilios” in the Bronze Age and “Troy” later, and that yes, something unpleasant happened to it. A lot of cities were destroyed at the end of the Bronze Age, but the destruction layer at Troy VI is somewhat earlier than that (about 1250 BCE). Troy seems to have been a Hittite tributary/dependency/something; Hittite documents refer to “Wilusa” and there’s a fragment of a cuneiform letter from Hittite king Hattusili II to an unnamed Great King of “Ahhiyawa” concerning some sort of issue over “Wilusa”. The general archaeological consensus is “Ahhiyawa” is “Achaea” and “Wilusa” is “Ilios” (strengthened by the fact that the “W/digamma” had dropped out of the Greek language by Homer’s time; apparently there’s a few verses in The Iliad that work better metrically if an initial digamma is assumed – suggesting those verses are older than Homer). There’s another letter (dated to around 1300 BCE) from Hittite king Muwattalli II binding the king of “Wilusa” and his descendants to a treaty; the Wilusan king is named Alaksandu – and Alexandros is an alternate name for Paris in The Iliad (it’s also definitely Greek, which raises the question why a Hittite king was dealing with a Greek ruler of Troy). Homer refers to a people living around Troy – and sometimes the Trojans themselves - as the “Dardanoi”, anglicized to “Dardanians”; among the allies of the Hittites against Ramses II at the battle of Kadesh (around 1275 BCE) was “He of Dardany”. Lots of fruit for speculation if you allow a little creative etymology.

There’s an endpaper map that shows the ancient and modern shorelines around Troy, but no other illustrations. The endnotes are extensive and voluminous; the suggested reading list is, like the bulk of the text, focused on the literature rather than the history but there’s enough to go on if you’re interested. ( )
1 ääni setnahkt | Dec 31, 2017 |
Really 3 1/2 stars. I started out really liking this book, then got bored with it as the second half became repetitive. The first half, though, is full of interesting insights and anecdotes and factoids, so still well worth reading. ( )
  gayla.bassham | Nov 7, 2016 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 20) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
Alexander, a professional writer who has been published in Granta, The New Yorker, and National Geographic, holds a Ph.D. in classics from Columbia University. Her new book explores her deep fascination with Homer's Iliad. Essentially, she offers an extended discussion of the plot, elaborating and contextualizing it by reference to extant fragments from other epics and other ancient texts and archaeological and historical evidence. She also relates the resonances of The Iliad in the modern world, from Muhammad Ali's refusal to serve in the Vietnam War to the account of an American war widow responding to the death of her husband in Iraq. Verdict Alexander's book is vigorous and deeply learned yet unpedantic. Highly recommended to general readers interested in a full appreciation of the power and the enduring relevance of The Iliad.-
lisäsi jburlinson | muokkaaLibrary Journal, T.L. Cooksey (Jan 9, 2017)
 
"She shows that The Iliad is sharply relevant to conflicts of our own day, as well as a key to understanding the distant world of the Bronze Age."
 
"The War that Killed Achilles is certainly a worthy memorial to Homer's poem: compassionate, urgent and unfailingly stimulating. Yet it is hard to escape a nagging feeling that the image which Alexander sees reflected in the Iliad is too much her own."
 
The problem with “The War That Killed Achilles” doesn’t lie in Ms. Alexander’s intelligent readings, her combing through the text looking for ambivalence about, or fear and loathing of, war... The problem is that her book is such a dutiful walk-through of Lattimore’s translation. Ms. Alexander quotes from, and summarizes, Lattimore’s words so frequently that without them her book would threaten to collapse into a heap of thin if shapely sticks and twigs.
 
Though Alexander (freelance writer) aims this well-written book at general readers, she includes brief discussions of technical issues such as history, archaeology, and linguistics, with frequent footnotes pointing to more detailed accounts. However, her chief goal is to discover "what the Iliad says of war." Indeed, by focusing on the character of Achilles and posing questions such as "who is the real enemy?" and "what is the point of (this) war?" she succeeds in making the ancient epic completely relevant for readers only too familiar with current wars.
lisäsi jburlinson | muokkaaChoice, G. D. Bird
 

» Lisää muita tekijöitä (6 mahdollista)

Tekijän nimiRooliTekijän tyyppiKoskeeko teosta?Tila
Alexander, CarolineTekijäensisijainen tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Álvarez-Flórez, José ManuelKääntäjämuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu
Sinun täytyy kirjautua sisään voidaksesi muokata Yhteistä tietoa
Katso lisäohjeita Common Knowledge -sivuilta (englanniksi).
Kanoninen teoksen nimi
Alkuteoksen nimi
Teoksen muut nimet
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Alkuperäinen julkaisuvuosi
Henkilöt/hahmot
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Tärkeät paikat
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Tärkeät tapahtumat
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Kirjaan liittyvät elokuvat
Palkinnot ja kunnianosoitukset
Epigrafi (motto tai mietelause kirjan alussa)
Omistuskirjoitus
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TO SMOKEY

οὐ μὲν γὰρ ζωοί γε φίλων ἀπάνευθεν ἑταίρων
βουλὰς ἑζόμενοι βουλεύσομεν
Ensimmäiset sanat
Tiedot englanninkielisestä Yhteisestä tiedosta. Muokkaa kotoistaaksesi se omalle kielellesi.
PREFACE: The Iliad is generally believed to have been composed around 750 to 700 B.C. and has been in circulation ever since.
The Things They Carried [Chapter 1]: It is the epic of epics, the most celebrated and enduring of all war stories ever told.
Sitaatit
Viimeiset sanat
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(Napsauta nähdäksesi. Varoitus: voi sisältää juonipaljastuksia)
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia

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Many have forgotten that the subject of the "Illiad" was war--not merely the poetical romance of the war at Troy, but war, in all its enduring devastation. This groundbreaking reading of Homer's epic poem restores the poet's vision of the tragedy of war, addressing many of the central questions that define the war experience of every age.

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