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Homer and His Iliad

Robin Lane Fox



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Allen Lane
17 October 2023
A thrilling study of the greatest of all epic poems by one of the world's leading classicists.

The Iliad by Homer is the famous epic poem set among the tales of Troy. Its subject is the anger of the hero Achilles and its dreadful consequences for the warring Greeks and Trojans. It was composed more than 2,600 years ago, but still transfixes us with its tale of loss and battle, love and revenge, guided throughout by the active presence of the gods. Its beauty and profound bleakness are intensely moving, yet great questions remain - where, when and how was it composed and why does it have such enduring power?

In this compelling book, Robin Lane Fox addresses these questions, drawing on a life-long love and engagement with the poem. He argues for a place, a date and a method for its composition, giving us a sense of alternative approaches and grounding his own in discoveries about long heroic poems composed elsewhere in the world, and the ever-growing evidence of archaeology.

Unlike other books on The Iliad, this one combines the detailed expertise of a historian with the sensitivity of a teacher of it as poetry. Lane Fox goes on to consider hallmarks of the poem, its values, implicit and explicit, its characters, its women, its gods and even its horses. He argues repeatedly for its beautiful observation, and he addresses its parallel use of what is, to us, the natural world. Thousands of readers turn to The Iliad every year. In this superbly written and conceived tribute, Lane Fox expresses and amplifies what old and new readers can find in it. It is pervaded, he argues, by a poignant hardness which is not just a poetic trick, but a deeply held view of the world.

Imprint:   Allen Lane
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 240mm,  Width: 162mm,  Spine: 41mm
Weight:   723g
ISBN:   9780241524510
ISBN 10:   0241524512
Pages:   464
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  Professional and scholarly ,  College/higher education ,  ELT Advanced ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Robin Lane Fox was born in 1946 and educated at Eton and Magdalen College, Oxford. He is a Fellow of New College and University Reader in ancient History. Since 1979 he has been weekly gardening correspondent of the Financial Times. Alexander the Great won the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the W.H. Heinemann Award on its first publication in 1973.

Reviews for Homer and His Iliad

"This summer I am planning a binge on Homer ... So, I shall be taking along Robin Lane Fox's new Homer and his Iliad ... I always like the way he annoys me. * Times Literary Supplement * The result of a lifetime's dedication to the Iliad - personally and professionally ... This is a compelling and impressive work ... his enthusiasm is infectious ... The book did achieve its aim: It sent me back to the Iliad. * Sunday Times * This book is the expression of the professor's lifelong love for the poem he believes to be the greatest in the world, Brilliant teacher that he is, he conveys that passion to readers ... Contained within the 15,000 plus lines of this 2,600-year-old poem, as Robin Lane Fox explains so vividly in his excellent new book, is life and death in all its pathos, pity and contradictions. * Country Life * Lane Fox, 76, armed with over 60 years of classical education, bravely sets out to answer the great Homeric questions. Like a donnish Sherlock Holmes ... an engaging, scholarly commentary on the Iliad's main characters ... particularly good on nature. * The Oldie * Robin Lane Fox has been teaching the epics for 50 years and studying them for many more. His lifelong fascination with the texts has bred a sort of feverish passion .... the book feels less like a wilful provocation than a throwing down of the gauntlet by a 76-year-old with nothing to lose. Lane Fox writes less with hope than bardic omniscience that his book will become a landmark in Homeric studies. -- Daisy Dunn * Spectator * ""Homer's Iliad is the world's greatest epic poem,"" writes the peerless classicist Robin Lane Fox ... Lane Fox has had a 60-year relationship with the poem ... he teases out from infinite small details hidden in the Iliad's 15,000 lines something of the antique mindset. -- Michael Prodger * New Statesman * Robin Lane Fox – ancient historian, travelling enthusiast, gardening correspondent for the Financial Times and cavalry commander in Oliver Stone’s Alexander – is the latest to turn his hand to this form of philological necromancy. The Iliad is a poem he has known and loved since his schooldays at Eton, and it shows: there is barely a page without some personal insight or hypothesis, often accompanied by laudatory adjectives ... He knows the poem in enviable detail and has a lover’s eye both for the poem’s sublime beauty and for anything out of place ... his confidence and deep learning can be thrilling .... Homer and His Iliad is rich, imaginative, perceptive and gorgeously written. -- Tim Whitmarsh * Literary Review * A comprehensive delight for amateurs and academics alike, as the author soars through the canon of Homeric scholarship with a magisterial deftness worthy of any Olympian. A captivating tribute to a lifelong love of the original epic. -- Lisa Hilton * Times Literary Supplement Books of the Year *"

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