Archive for the 'classics' Category

In search of my childhood: help me find the Iliad

June 23, 2007

In high school I was exposed to the classics for the first time. We read selections of the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Aeneid, the Inferno, some poetry by Ezra Pound (not at all sure why this was thrown into a high school level, non AP class), and scads of other things I’ve forgotten. All I remember is being mesmerized by the Iliad in a way I was decidedly not mesmerized in college. I blame the translation; no matter how many professors squawk about how much they love Robert Fagles’ translation I find it bland.

And I’m not the only one who feels that way; my old roommate lamented for the days when she read the Fitzgerald. Now, I remembered hearing that name back in junior year of high school, so when I saw Fitzgerald’s Iliad and Odyssey for sale at a used book sale for something like a quarter each, I bought them.

They are not the books I remember! It should have been obvious when I paged through them. Fitzgerald’s translation is beautiful, to be sure (I’m rereading the Odyssey right now and loving it even more now that I’m not being graded on it) but it is not what I remember reading.

I’m pretty sure what I read was in straight-up, unenjambed prose, which should have been an instant tip-off when I saw the Fitzgeralds, but I didn’t remember that little fact when I was shopping. Amazon has a promising-looking edition by Martin Hammond, but “Search Inside” takes me to a different edition, so I can’t check it out.

So help me out here. What could I possibly have read? Which Iliad am I thinking of here?

Basically I’m a huge dork.