This colloquy will be a robust exploration of Homer’s Iliad, which is traditionally considered the beginning of Western literature. It’s no exaggeration to claim that the Iliad and its “companion” epic, the Odyssey, are the most influential texts of the Western tradition. We will use the translation of the American poet and classicist, Richmond Lattimore. I recommend its more recent incarnation (2011) with the introduction by Richard Martin. It is in paperback, published by the University of Chicago Press and available from Blue Hill Books.
Brendon Reay is a Classicist. He graduated from Reed College in 1987 with a B.A. in Classics, earned his M.A. in Latin at Bryn Mawr College in 1993, and his Ph.D. in Classical Studies from Stanford University in 1998. Brendon has taught Greek and Latin language from beginning to advanced levels, and courses in Greek and Latin literature, history, and politics. His research has focused mainly on Roman agricultural literature and history, and ideas of Roman nationhood and selfhood. He and his family have lived in Blue Hill since 2018.
Please get the Iliad edition with a translation by Richmond Lattimore. It has a brilliant introduction by Richard Martin.
The Iliad of Homer – translated by Lattimore (note that Blue Hill Books offers a 20% discount for colloquy participants).
We’ll divide our reading into 4 chunks. The poem is 24 books long, so 6 books per session. The Iliad will feel foreign, weird, and clunky at first (especially in Lattimore’s translation), but with a little bit of time and effort the power and majesty of the poem will shine. In addition to the contours and meaning(s) of basic story, we’ll focus our discussions particularly on 1. Oral poetics and 2. Homeric heroism. Of course, any other questions or topics of interest are fair game.
To become familiar with some basic background about The Iliad, read these Wikipedia entries:
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