Revisiting 'The Iliad,' 3,000 Years Later

Sep 13, 2019

The Iliad is one of the oldest surviving stories of Western civilization, and is often referred to as if we know it — or, at least, we should.

The epic is usually credited to Homer, the ancient Greek storyteller who first sat down to orally weave the story for his audiences 3,000 years ago.  The war story chronicles the final weeks of the Trojan War, and it has been translated into dozens of languages — dozens of times.


It’s often a challenging story to grasp, with unpronounceable lists of Greek names and complex family pedigrees to track across the 24 books of poetry. But after poring over The Iliad for years, Stan Lombardo penned a highly praised modern English translation back in 1997 that aims to make the text more accessible. The goal of Lombardo’s translation is for The Iliad to be easily spoken aloud, and performed live on a stage.

This weekend, Lombardo’s translation will be performed live at the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University. The event is free to the public and begings at 7 p.m. Friday, and will pick up again at 7 p.m. Saturday, and then again at 2 p.m. Sunday.  Designed to allow people to flow in and out as they please, the reading commemorates the 100th annivesary of Emory's Michael C. Carlos museum. 

Lombardo is Professor Emeritus of Classics at the University of Kansas, and he joined On Second Thought to speak to the enduring value of The Iliad, many millennia later.

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