The Iliad

I finally got around to reading Homer’s Iliad after years of reading little segments here and there.  It is an interesting story about the war between the Greek city-states and Troy over the abduction of Helen.  The Greeks attempt in vain to get Achilles to join the fight.  Meanwhile Zeus shows his favor to the Trojans and allows Hector to wreak havoc on the Greeks.  Finally Achilles joins the battle and eventually kills the great Hector.  It is filled with action and gore.  This is the book that the movie Troy was based on (with all the supernatural aspects removed).

Apart from being an interesting story, this book is important for other reasons.  N.T. Wright calls Homer the “Old Testament of the Greeks.”  Homer’s epic was incredibly influential on how the ancients understood the gods.  Ironically, these epics also contained the seeds of their own demise.  Later Greeks saw the gods in their violence, rape and deception as being unworthy of worship.  Still, these books are worth reading to help us understand the worldview of the ancient Greeks.

I especially enjoyed the Loeb edition of this book.  It was nice to have the Greek provided to check the translations.  While classical Greek is somewhat different from the koine Greek that I know, it was still helpful.