The Iliad Endures

Why has Homer’s “Iliad” endured for thousands of years? Part of the appeal lies in the human drama of rage, love, jealousy, and family loyalty–those ever-relevant aspects of our relationships to each other. But another part of the appeal lies in the language itself–the images woven together to form a larger picture. One particularly beautiful passage describes the watchfires of the Trojan army: “Hundreds strong, as stars in the night sky glittering round the moon’s brilliance blaze in all their glory when the air falls to a sudden windless calm…all the lookout peaks stand out and the jutting cliffs and the steep ravines and down from the high heavens bursts the boundless bright air and all the stars shine clear and the shepherd’s heart exults–so many fires burned between the ships and the [river’s] whirling rapids set by the men of Troy, bright against their walls.” (8.641-49, trans. Robert Fagles).

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