Since it is presumably one of the two founding works of modern Western thought, I figured I could supplement this node slightly. The Iliad and The Odyssey are the examples of epic poetry. It is believed that The Iliad was composed 1st by Homer and The Odyssey years later. This is the young Homer/old Homer theory. The reason for this is that while the Iliad is beautiful and signifigant, it is a ferocious war story with ideals of combat similar to those of the young and patriotic WWII fighters. The Odyssey, on the other hand, has the feeling of maturity and is composed with much more thought as to metaphor and story. Some scholars also believe that Homer was blind when composing this epic because of some of the vivid imagery. The Iliad is the story of Achilles and the Accheans in their fight against the Trojans. Paris abducted Helen from the home of Agamemnon and took her back to Troy. The Accheans came looking for her and Hector, on behalf of his brother Paris, led the city's defense. Achilles leaves the fight, having been shamed by Agamemnon early in the epic, and the Accheans begin to lose the battle. Achilles is finally convinced to come back to the fighting after the death of his best friend (and lover?) Patroklos. Patroklos went back to the fight for pity of the accheans, in Achilles' place. After Achilles returns, the tide turns away from the favor of the Trojans, and the story climaxes when Achilles finally kills Hector. The epic ends with the funeral of Hector, which is interesting as it tends to signify that Hector is as much a protagonist as is Achilles (which I tend to believe). Below are the 1st 80 or so lines of the Iliad, modestly translated from the Greek by me, Xeno_Paradox. (BTW, I highly recomend the Loeb 2nd Edition translation... It's the one to read.)

Sing, goddess, the deadly wrath of Achilles son of Peleus,
That brought countless woes for the Achaeans,
and sent forth many strong souls of heroes to Hades,
making they themselves spoils for dogs and
feasts for birds, and the will of Zeus was accomplished,

from that time when first they were set apart in strife,
both the son of Atreus, lord of men, and god-like Achilles.
And who of the gods brought together these two in quarrel to fight?
The son of Leto and Zeus; for he, having been angered

with the king, let loose an evil plague upon the army, and people began to be killed,
because the son of Atreus dishonored the priest Chryses.
For he came to the swift ships of the Achaeans
bearing countless ransoms to release his daughter,
holding wreaths of far-shooting Apollo in his hands

on a golden staff, and he beseeched all the Achaeans,
but above all the two sons of Atreus, commanders of the people,
“Sons of Atreus and all other well-greaved Achaeans,
to you may the gods who have their homes on Olympus grant
the sacking of the city of Priam, and to come home safely;

but release my dear daughter to me, and let the ransoms be accepted
standing in awe of the son of Zeus, far-shooting Apollo.”
Then, all the rest of the Achaeans assented with a shout of applause
both to reverence the priest and to accept the ransoms;
yet this was not pleasing to the soul for Agamemnon, son of Atreus,

but he discharged him harshly and enjoined upon him a mighty threat,
“Let me not, old man, come upon you beside the hollow ships,
either loitering now or being back again later,
surely your staff and wreath of the god shall not protect you;
but her I will not release, before old age overtakes her

in our home in Argos, far from her native land,
and she goes to the loom and shares my bed.
But go; do not anger me, in order that you may return more safely.”
So he spoke, and the old man feared him and obeyed the command.
And he walked in silence along the shore of the loud-roaring sea.

Thereupon, having gone far away, he began to pray
to lord Apollo, whom fair-haired Leto bore:
“Hear me, one with the silver bow, who guards Chrysa
and holy Cilla, and rules Tenedos mightily,
Smintheus, if ever I roofed over a beautiful temple for you,

or if ever I burned to you fat thigh-bones
of bulls and goats, fulfill this wish for me:
Let the Danaans pay my price with your arrows”
So he spoke in prayer, and Phoebus Apollo heard him,
And he walked down from the peaks of Olympus, his heart angered,

holding a bow at his shoulders and a covered quiver.
And the arrows clanged upon his shoulders enraged,
he went; and who was going like the night.
Then, he sat far from the ships, and sent an arrow into their midst;
and terrible was the shriek of the silver bow.

At first, he sent against mules and swift dogs,
but then, hurling a sharp arrow on the men themselves,
he began to shoot; and the pyres burned ever thick from corpses.
For nine days, the arrows of the god came upon the army,
but on the tenth day, Achilles summoned the people to assembly;

for the white-armed goddess Hera placed it on his heart;
for she was grieving for the Danaans, because she saw them dying.
And when the men were then gathered and assembled,
among them swift-footed Achilles being raised up began to speak;
“Son of Atreus, as it is now, we will, having again been beaten back, I believe,

return home, should we flee death at least,
and even then, together both war and pestilence will overcome the Achaeans.
But come then, we will find some seer, whether priest
or even dreamer of dreams, for the dream is also from Zeus,
who might even say why Phoebus Apollo has been angered so much,

whether he indeed finds fault with a prayer or a hecatomb,
in the hope that somehow from the savor of unblemished lambs and goats
he is willing to come ward off ruin from us.”
Indeed, having said that, he sat down straightaway, and raised up from them was
Calchas, son of Thestor, far best of the bird-interpreters,

who knew the things that are, and the things that will be, and were before,
and who guided the ships of the Achaeans to Ilios
by means of his own gift of prophecy that Phoebus Apollo granted him.
He, being well disposed, addressed the assembly and spoke:
“Achilles, dear to Zeus, you urge me to declare

the wrath of Apollo, far-shooting lord;
therefore, I will speak, but understand and swear
to zealously succor me with word and deed.
For I think I will surely anger a man who
rules mightily over all of the Argives and whom the Achaeans obey.

For mightier is the king, when he is angered at an inferior man.
Because even if he digests down his rage on that same day,
yet afterwards he still holds a grudge, until he brings it to fulfillment
in his own breast. But consider if you shall protect me.”

One of the two great epic poems which were written by Homer and compose most of what we have of the Trojan Cycle (the other one being the Odyssey). It was written circa the 8th century BC, and was passed orally all through Ionia and Aeolis and later mainland Greece (Cf. Homeric Greek).

The Iliad centers around a certain scene in the last year of the war, namely the wrath of Achilles, and the resulting consequences (with many sidetracks and secondary plots).

The poem was finally put to writing in 6th century BC Athens.

The Iliad became one of the milestones and bases of Greek literature and culture in particular, and western literature and culture in general.

The Iliad as translated by Stanley Lombardo was released in 1997 and is a radically different treatment of Homer's great work. Lombardo uses modern vernacular in his translation that transforms the pace and imagery of the standard translations of the narrative and yet still remains accurate and powerfully resonant to the Greek in its delivery. The dialogue is brilliant, and the voice rings true to the characters...This Iliad is tangible and fascinating, and a truly entertaining read for anyone who loves the story or who struggled through it in the past.

Stanley Lombardo is a Professor of Classics at the University of Kansas, and I had the pleasure of his tutelage as an Antiquities major there. To contrast the translation above, I provide the first 150 lines...
Rage:
Sing, Goddess, Achilles' rage,
Black and murderous, that cost the Greeks
Incalculable pain, pitched countless souls
Of heroes into Hades' dark,
And left their bodies to rot as feasts
For dogs and birds, as Zeus' will was done.
Begin with the clash between Agamemnon-
The Greek warlord-and godlike Achilles

Which of the immortals set these two at each
other's throats?

Apollo
Zeus' son and Leto's, offended
By the warlord. Agamemnon had dishonored
Chryses, Apollo's priest, so the god
Struck the Greek camp with plague,
And the soldiers were dying of it.

Chryses
Had come to the Greek beachhead camp
Hauling a fortune for his daughter's ransom.
Displaying Apollo's sacral ribbons
On a golden staff, he made a formal plea
To the entire Greek army, but especially
The commanders, Atreus' two sons:

"Sons of Atreus and Greek heroes all:
May the gods on Olympus grant you plunder
Of Priam's city and a safe return home.
But give me my daughter back and accept
This ransom out of respect for Zeus' son,
Lord Apollo, who deals death from afar."

A murmur rippled through the ranks:
"Respect the priest and take the ransom."
But Agamemnon was not pleased
And dismissed Chryses with a rough speech:

"Don't let me ever catch you, old man, by these ships again,
Skulking around now or sneaking back later.
The god's staff and ribbons won't save you next time.
The girl is mine, and she'll be an old woman in Argos
Before I let her go, working the loom in my house
And coming to my bed, far from her homeland.
Now clear out of here before you make me angry"

The old man was afraid and he did as he was told.
He walked in silence along the whispering surf line,
And when he had gone some distance the priest
Prayed to Lord Apollo, son of the silken-haired Leto:

"Hear me, Silverbow, Protector of Chryse,
Lord of Holy Cilla, Master of Tenedos,
And Sminthian God of Plague!
If ever I've built a temple that pleased you
Or burnt far thighbones of bulls and goats-
Grant me this prayer:
Let the Danaans pay for my tears with your arrows."

Apollo heard his prayer and descended Olympus' crags
Pulsing with fury, bow slung over one shoulder,
The arrows rattling in their case on his back
As the angry god moved like night down the mountain.

He settled near the ships and let loose an arrow.
Reverberation from his silver bow hung in the air.
He picked off the pack animals first, and the lean hounds,
But then aimed his needle-tipped arrows at the men
And shot until the death-fires crowded the beach.

Nine days the god's arrows rained death on the camp.
On the tenth day Achilles called an assembly.
Hera, the white-armed goddess, planted the thought in him
Because she cared for the Greeks and it pained her
To see them dying. When the troops had all mustered,
Up stood the great runner Achilles, and said:

"Well, Agamemnon, it looks as if we'd better give up
And sail home-assuming any of us are left alive-
If we have to fight both the war and this plague.
But why not consult some prophet or priest
Or a dream interpreter, since dreams too come from Zeus,
Who could tell us why Apollo is so angry,
If it's for a vow or a sacrifice he holds us at fault.
Maybe he'd be willing to lift this plague from us
If he savored the smoke from lambs and prime goats."

Achilles had his say and sat down. Then up rose
Calchas, son of Thestor, bird-reader supreme,
Who knew what is, what will be, and what has been.
He had guided the Greek ships to Troy
Through the prophetic power Apollo
Had given him, and he spoke out now:

"Achilles, beloved of Zeus, you want me to tell you
About the rage of Lord Apollo, the Arch-Destroyer.
And I will tell you. But you have to promise me and swear
You will support me and protect me in word and deed
I have a feeling I might offend a person of some authority
Among the Greeks, and you know how it is when a king
Is angry with an underling. He might swallow his temper
For a day, but he holds it in his heart until later
And it all comes out. Will you guarantee my security?"

Achilles the great runner, responded:

"Don't worry. Prophesy to the best of your knowledge.
I swear by Apollo, to whom you pray when you reveal
The gods' secrets to the Greeks, Calchas, that while I live
And look upon this earth, no one will lay a hand
On you here beside these hollow ships, no, not even
Agamemnon, who boasts he is the best of the Achaeans."

And Calchas, the perfect prophet, taking courage:

"The god finds no fault with vow or sacrifice.
It is for his priest, whom Agamemnon dishonored
And would not allow to ransom his daughter,
That Apollo deals and will deal death from afar.
He will not lift this foul plague from the Greeks
Until we return the dancing-eyed girl to her father
Unransomed, unbought, and make formal sacrifice
On Chryse. Only then might we appease the god."

He finished speaking and sat down. Then up rose
Atreus' son, the warlord Agamemnon,
Furious, anger like twin black thunderheads seething
In his lungs, and his eyes flickered with fire
As he looked Calchas up and down, and said:

"You damn soothsayer!
You've never given me a good omen yet.
You take some kind of perverse pleasure in prophesying
Doom, don't you? Not a single favorable omen ever!
Nothing good ever happens! And now you stand here
Uttering oracles before the Greeks, telling us
That your great ballistic god is giving us all this trouble
Because I was unwilling to accept the ransom
For Chryses' daughter but preferred instead to keep her
In my tent! And why shouldn't I? I like her better than
My wife Clytemnestra. She's no worse than her
When it comes to looks, body, mind, or ability.
Still, I'll give her back, if that's what's best.
I don't want to see the army destroyed like this.
But I want another prize ready for me right away.
I'm not going to be the only Greek without a prize,
It wouldn't be right. And you all see where mine is going."

And Achilles, strong, swift, and godlike:
"And where do you think, son of Atreus,
You greedy glory-hound, the magnanimous Greeks
Are going to get another prize for you?
Do you think we have some kind of stockpile in reserve?
Every town in the area has been sacked and the stuff all divided.
You want the men to count it all back and redistribute it?
All right, you give the girl back to the god. The army
Will repay you three and four times over-when and if
Zeus allows us to rip Troy down to its foundations."

The warlord Agamemnon responded:

"You may be a good man in a fight, Achilles,
And look like a god, but don't try to put one over on me-
It won't work. So while you have your prize,
You want me to sit tight and do without?
Give the girl back, just like that? Now maybe
If the army, in a generous spirit, voted me
Some suitable prize of their own choice, something fair-
But if it doesn't, I'll just go take something myself,
Your prize, perhaps, or Ajax's, or Odysseus',
And whoever she belongs to, it'll stick in his throat.

But we can think about this later..."

The Iliad by Homer
translated by Stanley Lombardo

The Iliad by Homer J. Simpson


As translated by Rancid_Pickle

Rage:
Sing, Marge, of Bart's rage,
Black and really not-light, that cause of the Springfieldians
Incalculable annoyance, pitched by countless pranks
Against the neighbors unto Hades' dark,
And left their egged houses to rot stinkily
For dogs and cats to pee on, as Bart's will was done.
Begin with the clash between Ned Flanders-
The okily-dokily warlord-and coollike Bart.

Which of the immortals set these two at each
other's throats?

Moe
Bar owner and stinky freak, offended
By the prank phone calls. Moe had dishonored
Lisa, Bart's sister, so the bartender
Struck the Simpson home with a plague,
Such that no pork chop were ever too succulent,
nor donut ever ventured.

Mmmm, donuts...

Santa's Little Helper
Had come to the Simpsons homey camp
Hauling a fortune of old bones and crap.
Displaying Homer's sacrificial shredded sneakers
On a grass-free lawn, he made a formal plea
To the entire Flanders household, but especially
The wife and their two sons:

"Bark bark bark bark.
Bark bark bark bark.
Bark bark bark Woo-oooo bark.
Bark bark bark bark."

A murmur rippled through the Flanders':
"Respect our sleep and take the dog to obedience school."
But Bart was not pleased
And dismissed the Flanderseses with a rough speech:

"Don't have a cow, man."

The old man was afraid and he did as he was told.
He walked in silence along the whispering property line,
And when he had gone some distance from the brat
Prayed to the Lord, thusly:

"Hear me, Oh Lord, Protector of mankind,
Lord of Holy Moly, Master of Masters,
And God of all Flanders!
If ever I've prayed that pleased you
Or avoided fat thighbones of Milla Jovovich-
Grant me this prayer:
Let the the Simpsons pay for my tears with your donut pestilence!"

Reverend Lovejoy sayeth on the other end of the cellphone,
"Fuck off, Flanders, my wife is ovulating!"

But Bleeding Gums Murphy heard his prayer and descended Olympus' crags
Playing the sax, pulsing with fury,
The windowss rattling in their casements
As the angry musician moved like night down the heavens.

He settled near the Quick E Mart and let loose a note.
Reverberation from his silver sax hung in the air.
He picked off the customers first, and the lean delivery men,
But then aimed his sonic-tipped arrows at Apu
And blew until Apu finally gave him a squishy and a tofu dog.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

For nine days Ned Flanders fury built o'er
On the tenth day he called an assembly.
Mrs. Flanders, the white-armed maiden, planted the thought in him
Because she cared for the neighborhood and it pained her
To see them suffering. When the Ned's troops had all mustered,
Up stood the head Flanders, and he said:

"Well, gosh golly gee whiz, it looks as if we'd better give up
And sell the home-assuming any of us are left alive-
If we have to fight both the dog and the brat Bart.
But why not consult some prophet or priest
Or a dream interpreter, someone like Miss Cleo,
Who could tell us why the Lord is so angry,
If it's for a vow or a sacrifice he holds us at fault.
Maybe he'd be willing to lift this Simpson curse from us
If he savored the smoke from those marijuana plants
we're growing in the basement."

Ned had his say and sat down. Then up rose
Todd, son of Ned, bird-brain supreme,
Who knew what is, what will be, and what has been nerdy.
He had once guided the plunger to the toilet
And saved the hallway carpet.
He spoke out now:

"Father, beloved of Grandfather, you want me to tell you
About the rage of our Lord, the Almighty.
And I will tell you. But you have to promise me and swear
You will support me and protect me in word and deed
I have a feeling I might offend a person of some authority
Among the Simpsons, and you know how it is when a neighbor
Is angry with the next-door neighbor kid. He might swallow his temper
For a day, but he holds it in his heart until later
And it all comes out. Will you guarantee my security?"

Ned, the great runner on summer days, responded:

"Okily dokily! Don't worry.
I swear by the Lord, to whom you pray when you reveal
The gods' secrets to us after you called Reverend Lovejoy.
And look upon this earth, no one will lay a hand
On you here beside me and your mother, no, not even
Bart, who boasts he is the best of the Simpsons."

And Mrs. Flanders, the perfect wife, taking courage:

"The god finds no fault with vow or sacrifice.
It is for this home, whom Bart dishonored
And would not shut his damn dog up,
That the Lord deals and will deal ungoodness from afar.
He will not lift this foul dog barking from the Flanders'
Until we return the egging of the house
Unruly, unbought, and stolen eggs from the
Asses of chickens. Only then might we appease the god."

She finished speaking and sat down. Then up rose
Ned's other son, the whiny kid everyone wants to kick,
Furious, anger like twin black thunderheads seething
In his lungs, and his eyes flickered with fire
As he looked his mother up and down, and said:

"You damn hot, Bitch!
You've never given me a good pet. I want a dog!
You take some kind of perverse pleasure in prophesying
I'll be like Dad, don't you? Not a single favorable omen ever!
Nothing good ever happens! And now you stand here
Uttering this shit before the family, telling us
That your great ballistic bitchiness is giving us all this trouble
Because I was unwilling to accept the call of coolness
I could've laid the Simpsons' daughter
but preferred instead to keep her as a friend
In my room! And why shouldn't I? I like her better than
My mother. She's no worse than her
When it comes to looks, body, mind, or ability.
Still, I'll give her up, if that's what's best.
I don't want to see the family destroyed like this.
But I want another prize ready for me right away.
I'm not going to be the only fucker without a prize,
It wouldn't be right. And you all see where mine is going."

And Ned, strong, swift, and godfearing:
"And where do you think, son of a Bitch,
You greedy little fuckery-duckery, the magnanimous Simpsons
Are going to get another prize for you?
Do you think they have some kind of stockpile of daughters in reserve?
Every Quick E Mart in town has been saxed by Murphy.
You want the Simpsons to count their blessings,
and let you get Lisa preggers?
All right, you give the girl back to them unscrewed. The family
Will repay you three and four times over-when and if
we can ever find a bunch of hookers in this cartoon world."

Then Todd responded:

"You may be a good man in bed, Pops,
And look like a god to Mom, but don't try to put one over on me-
It won't work. So while you have your screw-toy,
You want me to sit tight and do without?
Give the Lisa back, just like that? Now maybe
If the family, in a generous spirit, voted me
Some suitable prize of their own choice, something fair-
But if it doesn't, I'll just go take something myself,
Your prize, perhaps, which makes me Oedipus,
And whenever she wants to, it'll stick my thingie in her throat.

But we can think about this later..."

Il"i*ad (?), n. [L. Ilias, -adis, Gr. , (sc. ), fr. , , Ilium, the city of Ilus, a son of Tros, founder of Ilium, which is a poetical name of Troy.]

A celebrated Greek epic poem, in twenty-four books, on the destruction of Ilium, the ancient Troy. The Iliad is ascribed to Homer.

 

© Webster 1913.

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