The Greek book of the week – Iliad and Odyssey by Homer
The civilization of Ancient Greece continue to fascinate the modern mind. It’s remote in time, and yet still close to us. This is partly because we owe to the classical world so many of the values and ideas which shape our society, literature and art, partly because many of the important moral and political issues which continue to exercise twenty-first century man were first addressed in the ancient world.
Reading the Greek classics authors is:
- fundamental to understanding the multiple dimensions of the human being
- fundamental to think deeply and critically about the great questions of human existence
- fundamental to understanding western civilization – the dominant culture of our times as expressed by notions as: democracy, philosophy, the concept of history, the West’s first literature, Scientific terms in all domains (medical, legal, mathematics, physics, chemistry, etc).
- fundamental for the development of intellectual rigor and analytical skills
- fundamental for enhanced ability to communicate, both orally and in writing.
The Iliad by Homer (mid-8th century BC).
The «Iliad» is an ancient Greek poem in dactylic hexameter (also called «heroic hexameter») attributed to Homer. The Iliad is first known literature of Europe, the first great book, and the first great book about the suffering and loss of war. Iliad contains 15.693 lines and is written in Homeric Greek, a literary amalgam of Ionic Greek and other Greek dialects.
First transcribed in the 8th century B.C., over 1000 manuscripts of Homer’s works exist, far more than for any other ancient author and many more of the Iliad than the Odyssey. Peisistratus, the tyran of Athens, commissioned the permanent copying and archiving of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and the canon of Homeric works is said to derive from this particular archiving.
«The Iliad» focuses on the hero Achilles, the greatest warrior-champion of the Greeks, and the climax to the ten year Trojan War.
The Odyssey by Homer (end of the 8th century BC).
Many people are more familiar with Homer’s Iliad – partly because of the film Troy, and the goings on of the Trojan War – than those of Odysseus’s journey back to Ithaka. «Odyssey» by Homer is roughly the second part of «The Iliad», an epic poem about King of Ithaca Odysseus and his ten year struggle to return home after the Trojan War.
While sailing home, Odysseus faces numerous obstacles, including monsters and temptations. Once home, Odysseus has to win a contest to prove his identity and fight off the suitors vying for the hand of his wife, Penelope.
In exploring the ancients we learn something about ourselves as well because the emotions generated and the dilemmas of judgment forced upon the characters are timeless and integral parts of the human condition.