Indie Block Party: Want to know what Thea reads?

You did ask, after all.

I’m reading the Iliad, the epic poem written by Homer a long time ago. It’s the story of the Trojan War. Here’s a blurb I found in the Dover edition:

Epic masterpiece chronicles last days of the Trojan War β€” quarrel of Achilles and Agamemnon, the battle for Helen of Troy, Greek siege of the city, Trojan counterattack, stratagem of the Trojan Horse, many other events. Vast in scope, fresh and noble in literary style. This edition reproduces the celebrated Samuel Butler prose translation.

Now, as for how I discovered the Iliad (and the Odyssey), do I have a story for you. It’s in a way the story of my early life, and how I came to be fascinated by stories and storytelling.

When I was eight, my mum introduced me to Greek Mythology. She gave me two books–children’s editions of the Greek Myths, and an illustrated, simplified version of The Iliad and the Odyssey. She read these books to me every night before bed, until I had them memorized. If I close my eyes, I can still see the pictures and hear the words.

But, I loved the Iliad and the Odyssey. As an adult, I was browsing through Kindle’s extensive selection of free classics, and found them both. I had to do it. I felt compelled to read the entire thing as it was written. Without learning ancient Greek, anyhow. I’m only willing to go so far.

I’m about 20% into the Iliad. It’s brutal. Wordy, complicated. Many characters named, only to fall in the next verse. Often, by being speared in the groin. Random. But, I’m fascinated by classics, especially in translation. I find that I focus more on how the words fall together, and how the vocabulary works. The Iliad paints vivid pictures, and there is incredible characterization for the main characters (The Atredes (not to be confused with House Atreides from Dune), Odysseus, Nestor, Hector, Achilles.) Every word has a purpose, and no space is wasted on telling rather than showing.

I tend to intersperse modern (post 1940s) books with classics. I need to keep my mind on language. Reading is studying for writing. A few months ago, I came to the conclusion that discomfort is good–it’s the side-effect of challenge. Challenge brings improvement. Thusly, I’m getting demolished by the Iliad, but every day I read it, I understand something else about literature. Some new truth. A new appreciation for the timelessness of literature. Some months, I go on Dostoyevsky benders. But, once I come out of it, I know a little more than I did before about language.

I’m actually starting to get into the Iliad. Scary, no? I’m a bit excited for The Odyssey. It was always my favorite of the two.


7 comments on “Indie Block Party: Want to know what Thea reads?

  1. Good luck with those classics. It is a challenge but it sounds like you’re worthy of it thus far. I like your focus on the words, since you know the story, that is an interesting take.

  2. πŸ™‚

    I’m not sure I’ll ever tackle The Iliad again myself … but point me in the direction of The Odyssey, and I’m all over it. I don’t know which translation you downloaded, but I was always partial to the lyricism of the prose translation of Richmond Lattimore. But I don’t know if that translation is available for free download. 😦

    It’s nice to intersperse the classics into your reading round. If you haven’t tried it, give Jane Eyre a try. It’s well worth the time.

  3. I also like the Odyssey better. I used to have the Wishbone Odyssey computer game πŸ™‚ That was awesome!

  4. burnsmillie says:

    I’ve always intended to read those two…

  5. I’m really fascinated by those too, I read several versions. I’m telling myself that one day I will actually read them in ancient Greek.

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