This book introduces the general reader, as well as the student of Classics, to one of the masterpieces of European literature, the Iliad of Homer, in the English translation of Richmond Lattimore. It offers the background which readers need to understand the poem's detail of story and characters, and it provides a step-by-step guide to the story's unravelling and to the literary features which have ensured its enduring popularity since its composition in 750 BC. The edition is designed specifically for the reader who has neither Greek nor any previous knowledge of Homer and approaches the poem as a literary text, seeking to identify the poet's techniques and to assess their effects. It can be used both as a continous reading alongside Lattimore's (or any other) translation and as a reference work for specific points of textual understanding or interpretation. There is a comprehensive and up-to-date bibliography and a guide to further reading.
With clarity and dispatch Postlethwaite manages to provide the background knowledge that an ancient audience would have brought to the poem, noting as well significant thematic developments and directing the reader to a wide range of present-day Homeric studies. Teachers and readers for whom Lattimore’s stately cadences capture Homer’s Greek most directly will find here an indispensable companion to that most literally faithful of modern translations.
Andrew Ford, Princeton University