The Iliad: Thoughts So Far

The Iliad Books

I read The Iliad by Homer last year and didn’t care for it. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve not been a big fan of epic poetry in general. Mainly, I think, because it can be more challenging to understand sometimes. I decided to go ahead and participate in Cleo’s read-along for The Iliad this year and read it again with hopes that I may get more out of it by reading it along with others.

In the picture above is the beautiful hardback edition of The Iliad and The Odyssey that I’ve had for several years. It is the Butler translation and is what I read last year when I read The Iliad. The other book is just The Iliad and is the Lattimore translation. I bought this translation because it is the one Cleo recommended. When I’m reading, I sit with my hardback edition open to the list of names given in the front of that book, while I read the Lattimore translation.

I also bought a small notebook which you can see sitting on the top of the book stack above. As you can see, it’s a smallish notebook which I made a basic label for and added a little bit of washi tape to dress it up just a tad bit. I decided to try to find just one statement or passage to write down in the notebook for each book of The Iliad (the poem is divided up into books).

This idea was inspired by the War and Peace Read-along, hosted by Nick at One Catholic Life. Nick suggested posting a quote from each chapter of War and Peace on Facebook or Twitter as we read. I liked the idea of recording a quote or passage with each chapter and decided to do that in the form of a notebook instead of posting on social media. I think this has added to my reading of Tolstoy’s War and Peace so far; so I wanted to keep a notebook for The Iliad to see if it might add to my reading experience of it also. I also keep notes in the notebook as well. So it’s my little book of Quotes & Notes. πŸ™‚ Here’s a close-up of the notebook:

The Iliad Notebook

So how am I doing with reading The Iliad at this point? Well….I have read the first five books so far and I can say that it is a bit easier this time around. However, I admit I still am getting confused some with all of the names and such. There’s a lot of names of people and places, along with a host of gods and goddesses.

I have to say that Cleo’s read-along and the discussion in the comments have been wonderful! These discussions have definitely already helped me have more interest in the book than I did when I read it last year. So that’s good!

First, I appreciate Cleo’s commentary in her posts. She sums up the books and I find that very helpful, especially if a book has been particularly confusing. Second, both Cleo and others participating in the discussion have brought up points that help me think on a deeper level about the story and help me see things that maybe I didn’t see as I was reading. This can go a long way in helping form more appreciation for the epic poem.

I will be honest and say that at this point, I still don’t *love* The Iliad. But even though some parts have still been tedious to read, I have found myself more interested in it because of being able to dig deeper, discuss themes and ideas, and even just the story line in general with the others in the read-along.


6 thoughts on “The Iliad: Thoughts So Far

  1. I agree. Cleo is amazing and she helps us appreciate this book so much.

    I have a card where I’m writing the names of gods and goddesses on one side and the other, as well as names of certain warriors and their places. Unbelievably, this is helping me LOTS. If I see Hecktor fighting someone or more than one, I automatically know those are on the Greek side. I won’t say I have a great grasp of all those names, but I’m not nearly as lost as the first time, πŸ™‚


    • That’s a great idea! The character list in my hardback edition is broken down into Greeks (Achaeans, Danaans, Argives), Trojans, Women in Troy, Gods and Goddesses. But I like your index card idea because you can just stick the index card in your book and also move it around easily as needed. The hardback edition book can’t be so easily managed. LOL


  2. Argh, I’m so busy with reading and writing posts that I’m having a hard time doing my usual blog rounds! As I said on my blog, I’m glad you’re persevering, Karen. It’s tough the first time around, and if you didn’t force your mind to really pay attention the first time you read it, this second time is really your first time! If you do the work, it will set some characters in your mind that will come back later when reading Greek playwrights or Ovid or other Greek writers. Okay … back to reading …. πŸ™‚


  3. Pingback: A Look Back at January 2020 ~ A Monthly Review |

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