Homer  The Iliad
All literature has its origins in story telling.   In earlier times, the
collective wisdom of a society was preserved and passed down
through its stories.   As such, they were meant to educate as
well as entertain, to celebrate the culture that gave them birth,
and ensure its continuation in the future.   Especially for younger
listeners, they helped prepare them for the ardors of their future
adult life.

For young men, throughout most of history, coming-of-age often
meant accepting the risks and rigors of warfare.   The Iliad
captured the realities of war -- both its triumphs and senseless
violence -- with a vividness and intensity unmatched in any
ancient work of literature.   This was the closest thing to a military
education possible for a young Greek youth, short of joining a war
expedition.

But the
Iliad did much more.  It examined the human psyche, the
formation of character, the nature of honor, and the thin line that
often separates virtue and vice.   It captured a defining interlude i
the history of the Greek people, celebrated its core myths, and
gave substance to its theology and its sense of destiny.   

In our modern age, where we have debased story-telling to mere
escapism -- transforming the life-enhancing narratives into
Disney-style thrill rides -- we have much to learn from this timeless
classic.



WEB RESOURCES

An excellent glossary of Greek terms from the Iliad can be found
here.

Check out the
Top Ten Urban Myths of the Iliad.

Can you pass
the Iliad quiz?  Was that too easy?  Then it's time to
play the
Iliad on-line game.  

Here is a great page of
links to various Iliad resources.  

How do you scan the oldest complete manuscript of the Iliad?  
Find out
here.  
TIPS FOR READERS

I highly recommend
Malcolm M. Willcock's
Companion to the Iliad,
which I found an
invaluable guide in
probing the nuances of
Homer's epic. There are
many excellent
translations to
choose from.  I read
the Iliad in the great
Richard Lattimore
version.  This
accomplished rendering
of Homer, first
published in 1951, still
holds up well today.
Others might prefer

Fagles
or Fitzgerald.
W.H.D. Rouse offers
a robust prose
version that would be
suitable for teenagers. I
have read aloud a
simple restatement of
this classic work to my
ten year old son.  it is
called
The Children's
Homer, and I highly
recommend it as an
introduction to this story
for youngsters.