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Homer was probably born around 725BC on the Coast of Asia Minor, now the coast of Turkey, but then really a part of Greece. Homer was the first Greek writer whose work survives.
He was one of a long line of bards, or poets, who worked in the oral tradition. Homer and other bards of the time could recite, or chant, long epic poems. Both works attributed to Homer - The Iliad and The Odyssey - are over ten thousand lines long in the original. Homer must have had an amazing memory but was helped by the formulaic poetry style of the time.
In The Iliad Homer sang of death and glory, of a few days in the struggle between the Greeks and the Trojans. Mortal men played out their fate under the gaze of the gods. The Odyssey is the original collection of tall traveller's tales. Odysseus, on his way home from the Trojan War, encounters all kinds of marvels from one-eyed giants to witches and beautiful temptresses. His adventures are many and memorable before he gets back to Ithaca and his faithful wife Penelope.
We can never be certain that both these stories belonged to Homer. In fact 'Homer' may not be a real name but a kind of nickname meaning perhaps 'the hostage' or 'the blind one'. Whatever the truth of their origin, the two stories, developed around three thousand years ago, may well still be read in three thousand years' time.
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Books By Homer
After enduring the Trojan War, Odysseus begins the treacherous journey home to Ithaca. On the way, he faces ravenous monsters and vengeful gods. But the real battle awaits, as his kingdom is under siege by unruly suitors vying for his wife’s hand—and his son’s head. To reclaim his throne and save his family, Odysseus must rely on his wits…and help from the unpredictable gods.
Homer’s The Odyssey was composed around 700 BC. It is one of the earliest epics in existence and remains one of the most influential works of literature today.
Revised edition: Previously published as The Odyssey, this edition of The Odyssey (AmazonClassics Edition) includes editorial revisions.
After nine years fighting the Trojan War, the Greeks sense imminent defeat. The gods have cursed them with a plague; the Trojans have set their ships on fire; and their best warrior, the impenetrable Achilles, has turned his back on them. But when the Trojans go too far and kill Patroclus, his beloved brother-in-arms, Achilles returns to the battlefield with a vengeance so terrible that it shocks even the gods.
Written by Homer more than twenty-five hundred years ago, The Iliad is among the oldest extant works of Western literature—the seminal epic narrative of infantry combat, the scars of battle, and the inevitability of fate.
AmazonClassics brings you timeless works from the masters of storytelling. Ideal for anyone who wants to read a great work for the first time or rediscover an old favorite, these new editions open the door to literature’s most unforgettable characters and beloved worlds.
Revised edition: Previously published as The Iliad, this edition of The Iliad (AmazonClassics Edition) includes editorial revisions.
Read this stunning translation of Homer's great war epic, the legendary tale of honour, love, loss and revenge during the fall of the city of Troy.
High on Olympus, Zeus and the assembled deities look down on the world of men, to the city of Troy where a bitter and bloody war has dragged into its tenth year, and a quarrel rages between a legendary warrior and his commander. Greek ships decay, men languish, exhausted, and behind the walls of Troy a desperate people await the next turn of fate.
This is the Iliad: an ancient story of enduring power; magnetic characters defined by stirring and momentous speeches; a panorama of human lives locked in a heroic struggle beneath a mischievous or indifferent heaven. Above all, this is a tale of the devastation, waste and pity of war.
Caroline Alexander's virtuoso translation captures the rhythms and energy of Homer's original Greek while making the text as accessible as possible to a modern reader, accompanied by extensive extra material to provide a background to the poem.
The result of 3,000 years of story-telling, Homer’s epic tale of the fall of Troy has resonated with every age and every human conflict: this is the Iliad at its most electrifying and vital.
A New York Times Notable Book of 2018
"Wilson’s language is fresh, unpretentious and lean…It is rare to find a translation that is at once so effortlessly easy to read and so rigorously considered." —Madeline Miller, author of Circe
Composed at the rosy-fingered dawn of world literature almost three millennia ago, The Odyssey is a poem about violence and the aftermath of war; about wealth, poverty and power; about marriage and family; about travelers, hospitality, and the yearning for home.
This fresh, authoritative translation captures the beauty of this ancient poem as well as the drama of its narrative. Its characters are unforgettable, none more so than the “complicated” hero himself, a man of many disguises, many tricks, and many moods, who emerges in this version as a more fully rounded human being than ever before.
Written in iambic pentameter verse and a vivid, contemporary idiom, Emily Wilson’s Odyssey sings with a voice that echoes Homer’s music; matching the number of lines in the Greek original, the poem sails along at Homer’s swift, smooth pace.
A fascinating, informative introduction explores the Bronze Age milieu that produced the epic, the poem’s major themes, the controversies about its origins, and the unparalleled scope of its impact and influence. Maps drawn especially for this volume, a pronunciation glossary, and extensive notes and summaries of each book make this is an Odyssey that will be treasured by a new generation of readers.
One of the oldest extant works of Western literature, the Iliad is a timeless epic poem of great warriors trapped between their own heroic pride and the arbitrary, often vicious decisions of fate and the gods. Renowned scholar and acclaimed translator Peter Green captures the Iliad in all its surging thunder for a new generation of readers.Featuring an enticingly personal introduction, a detailed synopsis of each book, a wide-ranging glossary, and explanatory notes for the few puzzling in-text items, the book also includes a select bibliography for those who want to learn more about Homer and the Greek epic. This landmark translation—specifically designed, like the oral original, to be read aloud—will soon be required reading for every student of Greek antiquity, and the great traditions of history and literature to which it gave birth.
'The first great book, and the first great book about the suffering and loss of war' Guardian
One of the foremost achievements in Western literature, Homer's Iliad tells the story of the darkest episode in the Trojan War. At its centre is Achilles, the greatest warrior-champion of the Greeks, who refuses to fight after being humiliated by his leader Agamemnon. But when the Trojan Hector kills Achilles' close friend Patroclus, he storms back into battle to take revenge - knowing this will ensure his own early death. E. V. Rieu's acclaimed translation of The Iliad was one of the first titles published in Penguin Classics, and now has classic status itself.
Originally translated by E. V. RIEU
Revised and updated by PETER JONES with D. C. H. RIEU
Edited with an Introduction and notes by PETER JONES
If the Iliad is the world's greatest war epic, the Odyssey is literature's grandest evocation of an everyman's journey through life. Odysseus' reliance on his wit and wiliness for survival in his encounters with divine and natural forces during his ten-year voyage home to Ithaca after the Trojan War is at once a timeless human story and an individual test of moral endurance.
E. V. Rieu’s translation has long been beloved and celebrated by scholars and readers alike, and for this Penguin Classics edition, classicist D. C. H. Rieu has revised the work of his father. This edition also includes an introduction by Peter V. Jones.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
—Daniel Mendelsohn, The New York Times Book Review