Table of Contents
BOOK ONE - The Rage of Achilles
BOOK TWO - The Great Gathering of Armies
BOOK THREE - Helen Reviews the Champions
BOOK FOUR - The Truce Erupts in War
BOOK FIVE - Diomedes Fights the Gods
BOOK SIX - Hector Returns to Troy
BOOK SEVEN - Ajax Duels with Hector
BOOK EIGHT - The Tide of Battle Turns
BOOK NINE - The Embassy to Achilles
BOOK TEN - Marauding Through the Night
BOOK ELEVEN - Agamemnon's Day of Glory
BOOK TWELVE - The Trojans Storm the Rampart
BOOK THIRTEEN - Battling for the Ships
BOOK FOURTEEN - Hera Outflanks Zeus
BOOK FIFTEEN - The Achaean Armies at Bay
BOOK SIXTEEN - Patroclus Fights and Dies
BOOK SEVENTEEN - Menelaus' Finest Hour
BOOK EIGHTEEN - The Shield of Achilles
BOOK TWENTY - Olympian Gods in Arms
BOOK TWENTY-ONE - Achilles Fights the River
BOOK TWENTY-TWO - The Death of Hector
BOOK TWENTY-THREE - Funeral Games for Patroclus
BOOK TWENTY-FOUR - Achilles and Priam
TEXTUAL VARIANTS FROM THE OXFORD CLASSICAL TEXT
NOTES ON THE TRANSLATION
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER READING
FOR THE BEST IN PAPERBACKS, LOOK FOR THE
FOR THE BEST IN PAPERBACKS, LOOK FOR THE
The Greeks believed that the Iliad and the Odyssey were composed by a single poet whom they named Homer. Nothing is known of his life. While seven Greek cities claim the honor of being his birthplace, ancient tradition places him in Ionia, located in the eastern Aegean. His birth-date is undocumented as well, though most modern scholars now place the composition of the Iliad and the Odyssey in the late eighth or early seventh century B.C.
ROBERT FAGLES is Arthur W. Marks '19 Professor of Comparative Literature, Emeritus, at Princeton University. He is the recipient of the 1997 PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation and a 1996 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Fagles has been elected to the Academy, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. He has translated the poems of Bacchylides. His translations of Sophocles' Three Theban Plays, Aeschylus' Oresteia (nominated for a National Book Award) and Homer's Iliad (winner of the 1991 Harold Morton Landon Translation Award by The Academy of American Poets, an award from The Translation Center of Columbia University, and the New Jersey Humanities Book Award) are published in Penguin Classics. His original poetry and his translations have appeared in many journals and reviews, as well as in his book of poems, I, Vincent: Poems from the Pictures of Van Gogh. Mr. Fagles was one of the associate editors of Maynard Mack's Twickenham Edition of Alexander Pope's Iliad and Odyssey, and, with George Steiner, edited Homer: A Collection of Critical Essays. Mr. Fagles' most recent work is a translation of Homer's Odyssey, available from Penguin.
BERNARD KNOX is Director Emeritus of Harvard's Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C. His essays and reviews have appeared in numerous publications and in 1978 he won the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism. His works include Oedipus at Thebes: Sophocles' Tragic Hero and His Time; The Heroic Temper: Studies in Sophoclean Trageay; Word and Action: Essays on the Ancient Theatre; Essays Ancient and Modern (awarded the 1989 PEN/Spielvogel-Diamonstein Award); The Oldest Dead White European Males and Other Reflections on the Classics; and Backing into the Future: The Classical Tradition and its Renewal. Mr. Knox is the editor of The Norton Book of Classical Literature, and has also collaborated with Robert Fagles on the Odyssey and The Three Theban Plays.
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First published in the United States of America by
Penguin Books USA Inc., 1990
Published in Penguin Books 1991
Copyright (c) Robert Fagles, 1990
Introduction and notes copyright (c) Bernard Knox, 1990
Maps copyright (c) Anita Karl and James Kemp, 1990
All rights reserved
Books 3, 18 and 22 of this version of the Iliad appeared originally in Grand Street, Book 6 in TriQuarterly. Part of Bernard Knox's Introduction appeared in Grand Street.
The illustrations on display pages are traditional Greek motifs, redrawn by Ann Gold.
This translation in its printed form is designed for the reading public only. All dramatic rights in it are fully protected by copyrights, and no public or private performances--professional or amateur--and no public readings for profit may be given without the written permission of the author and the payment of a royalty. Anyone disregarding the author's rights renders himself liable to prosecution. Communications should be addressed to the author's representative, Georges Borchardt, Inc., 136 East 57th Street, New York, New York 10022, U.S.A.
The Iliad / Homer ; translated by Robert Fagles;
introduction and notes by Bernard Knox.
1. Achilles (Greek mythology)--Poetry. 2. Trojan War--Poetry.
I. Fagles, Robert. II. Knox, Bernard MacGregor Walker. III. Title.
eISBN : 978-1-10115363-5
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To the memory of my father and my mother
and for Lynne, Katya and Nina--
humeis gar theai este, pareste te, iste te panta,
hemeis de kleos oion akouomen oude ti idmen--
"Homer makes us Hearers," Pope has said, "and Virgil leaves us Readers." So the great translator of Homer, no doubt unknowingly, set at odds the claims of an oral tradition and those of a literary one, as we would call the two traditions now. Homer's work is a performance, even in part a musical event. Perhaps that is the source of his speed, directness and simplicity that Matthew Arnold heard--and his nobility too, elusive yet undeniable, that Arnold chased b
ut never really caught. Surely it is a major source of Homer's energy, the loft and carry of his imagination that sweeps along the listener together with the performer. For there is something powerful in his song, "that unequal'd Fire and Rapture"--Pope again--"which is so forcible in Homer, that no Man of a true Poetical Spirit is Master of himself" while he experiences the Iliad. "In Homer, and in him only, it burns every where clearly, and every where irresistibly." But it also brings to light the Homeric Question facing all translators: How to convey the power of his performance in the medium of writing? "Homer makes us Hearers, and Virgil leaves us Readers."
Yet the contrast may be too extreme. Virgil the writer was certainly no stranger to recitation. Homer the performer, as the Introduction speculates, may have known a rudimentary form of writing. And writing may have lent his work some qualities we associate with texts in general--idiosyncrasies at times, and pungency and wit--and with the Iliad in particular, its architectonics, its magnificent scale, and the figure of Achilles. But even if Homer never used an alphabet himself, he now seems less the creature of an oral tradition whom Milman Parry discovered, and more and more its master, as envisioned by Parry's son, Adam. Homer the brilliant improviser deployed its stock, inherited features with all the individual talent he could muster. Never more so, in fact, than in his use of the fixed and formulaic, frequently repeated phrase. Not only is Homer often less formulaic, but the formulas themselves are often more resonant, more apt and telling in their contexts than the hard Parryites had argued for at first. So the original form of Homer's work, while a far cry from a work of literature as we know it now, is not exactly a song either, pure and simple. It may be more the record of a song, building over the poet's lifetime perhaps, or what Marianne Moore would call "a simulacrum of spontaneity."
Obviously at a far remove from Homer, in this translation I have tried to find a middle ground (and not a no man's land, if I can help it) between the features of his performance and the expectations of a contemporary reader. Not a line-for-line translation, my version of the Iliad is, I hope, neither so literal in rendering Homer's language as to cramp and distort my own--though I want to convey as much of what he says as possible--nor so literary as to brake his energy, his forward drive--though I want my work to be literate, with any luck. For the more literal approach would seem to be too little English, and the more literary seems too little Greek. I have tried to find a cross between the two, a modern English Homer.
Of course it is a risky business, stating what one has tried to do or, worse, the principles one has used (petards that will probably hoist the writer later). But a word or two of explanation seems in order, and the first refers to the more fixed and formulaic parts of Homer. I have treated them in a flexible, discretionary way, not incompatible with Homer's way, I think--especially when his formulas are functional as well as fixed--white also answering to the ways we read today. It is a matter of "riding easy in the harness," as Robert Frost once said of democracy, and my practice ranges from the pliant to the strict. With one of the most frequently repeated phrases, for example--the line that introduces individual speeches--I have been the freest, trying to anticipate the speaker's nuance of the moment yet retaining, at least, the ritual of introductory words for every speech. When Homer introduces a speech of "winged words," however, I rarely if ever omit that well-known phrase, though I like the flight of the words to vary, with a quick burst at times and a longer drift at others, according to what a character has to say. And so with Hector's flashing helmet, in the epithet that clings to Hector's name: I like to ally its gleaming with his actions, now nodding his head in conversation, now rushing headlong into the front lines. But a flashing helmet it is, again and again, and not only to make his own career appear more meteoric and abruptly snuffed out but also to support a chain of tragic ironies throughout the poem. For the flashing helmet--Hector's own at first--is soon replaced by the one he strips from Patroclus when he kills him: the helmet of Achilles. So as prophecy would have it, when Achilles destroys Hector in revenge he must destroy himself as well, his flashing mirror-image embodied in his victim, and the helmet he will wear, fire-new and forged by Hephaestus, flashes like the helmet of Ares when Achilles closes for the kill (Book 20.45, 22.158).1 The more the epithet recurs, in short, the more its power can recoil. And the inevitability of its recoil for Hector is further stressed by a repeated passage in the Greek repeated verbatim in the English version. The words that describe the death of Patroclus are exactly those that describe the death of Hector six books later (16.1001-5, 22.425-29): the first death, both in the mind of Achilles the avenger and in the style of his maker, will have served as warrant for the second. All in all, then, I have tried for repetition with a difference when variation seems useful, repetition with a grim insistence when the scales of Zeus, the Homeric moral balance, is at issue.
Turning briefly to Homer's metrics: though my way is more remote, it is also meant to occupy a flexible middle ground, here between his hexameter line--his "ear, ear for the sea-surge," as Pound describes it--and a tighter, native English line. If, as the Introduction claims, the strongest weapon in Homer's poetic arsenal is variety within a metrical norm, the translation opts for a freer give-and-take between the two, and one that offers a good deal more variety than uniformity. Working from a loose five-or six-beat line but inclining more to six, I expand at times to seven beats--to imply the big reach of a simile or some vehement outburst in discourse or the pitched fury of combat on the field--or contract at times to three, to give a point in speech or action sharper stress. Such interplay between variety and norm results, I suppose, from a kind of tug-of-war peculiar to translation, between trying to encapsulate the meaning of the Greek on the one hand and trying to find a cadence for one's English on the other, yet joining hands, if possible, to make a line of verse. I hope it results, at any rate, not only in giving my own language a slight stretching it may need and sometimes gets these days, but also in lending Homer the sort of range in rhythm, pace and tone that may make an Iliad engaging to a modern reader. It may be a way as well, again at a far remove, of trying to suggest the tension in Homer's metrics, his blend of mass and movement both--so much ongkos yet so much grace and speed.
In aiming for these and other objectives in a version of the Iliad, I have had many kinds of help. The greatest has come from my collaborator, Bernard Knox, whom I would rather call a comrade. Not only has he written the Introduction and Notes to the translation but he has commented on my drafts for several years. And when I leaf through those pages now, his commentary seems to ring my typescript so completely that I might be looking at a worse-for-wear, dog-eared manuscript encircled by a scholiast's remarks. Or is it something of a battle-map as well? The vulnerable lines at the center are shored up by a combat-tested ally, whose squads reinforce the weakest sectors and who deciphers Homer's order of the day and tells a raw recruit what war--the movements of armies and the sentiments of soldiers--is all about. And more, what tragedy--in this, the first tragedy--realty means. In Book 9 of the Iliad old Phoenix calls for a man of words and a man of action too. My good fortune has been to work with such a man.
Several modem scholars and critics, cited in the bibliography, have helped as well, and so have several modern translators of the Iliad, in whole or part. Each has introduced me to a new aspect of the poem, another potential for the present. "For if it is true," as Maynard Mack proposes, "that what we translate from a given work is what, wearing the spectacles of our time, we see in it, it is also true that we see in it what we have the power to translate." So my debts to others are considerable, and here I say my thanks to William Arrowsmith, Robert Graves, Martin Hammond, Richmond Lattimore, Christopher Logue, Paul Mazon, Ennis Reese and E. V. Rieu. A few I have known in person, most I have never met. Yet I suspect we all have known each other in a way, having trekked across the same territory, perhaps having all encountered the nightmare that haunted Pope--"that he was engaged in a long journey," as Joseph Spence reports,
"puzzled which way to take, and full of fears" that it would never end.. And if you reach the end, the fears may start in earnest. In any event, the translator I have known the best is the one to whom I owe the most, Robert Fitzgerald, both for the power of his example and because, at a sensitive moment, he heartened me to "fit on your greaves and swordbelt and face the moil or the melee."
Many other friends have come to my side, some by reading, some by listening to me read the work-in-progress, and responding in close detail with criticism or encouragement or a healthy combination of the two. Most encouraging of all, none has asked me, "Why another Iliad?" For each understood, it seems, that if Homer was a performer, then his translator might aim to be one as well, and that no two performances of the same work--surely not of a musical composition, so probably not of a work of language either--will ever be the same. The timbre and tempo of each will be distinct, let alone its deeper resonance, build and thrust. My thanks, then, to Marilyn Arthur, Paul Auster, Sandra Bermann, Charles Beye, Claudia Brodsky, Beth Brombert, Victor Brombert, Clarence Brown, Rebecca Bushnell, Robert Connor, Robert F. Go heen, Rachel Hadas, Robert Hollander, Samuel Hynes, Edmund Keeley, Nita Krevans, Janet Lembke, David Lenson, William Levitan, Herbert Marks, J. D. McClatchy, Earl Miner, William Mullen, Georgia Nugent, Joyce Carol Oates, Joanna Prins, Michael Putnam, David Quint, Richard Reid, James Richardson, Charles Segal, Steven Shankman, Michael Simpson, Raymond Smith, Paolo Vivante and Theodore Weiss.
And several classicists have lent a steady hand: William A. Childs, George Dunkel, Elaine Fantham, Andrew Ford, John Keaney, Richard Martin, Glenn Most and Froma Zeitlin. The published commentaries of other scholars, cited among the further readings, and even some unpublished have helped us on our way, thanks to the kindness and alacrity of their authors. Our book was in its later stages when M. M. Willcock sent the galleys of his second volume, Books 13 through 24. And the remaining parts of the commentary-in-progress under G. S. Kirk's editorship--his own work on Books 5 through 8, J. B. Hainsworth's on 9 through 12, Richard Janko's on 13 through 16, Mark W. Edwards' on 17 through 20 and Nicholas Richardson's on 21 through 24--luckily arrived while each was still in proof or typescript. The first impulse for the translation, however, came from the late W. B. Stanford, who, one afternoon in County Wicklow many years ago, sketched out my route for returning to the source.