- he is eminently rapid;
- he is eminently plain and direct both in the evolution of his thought and in the expression of it, that is, both in his syntax and in his words;
- he is eminently plain and direct in the substance of his thought, that is, in his matter and ideas;
- he is eminently noble. (Matthew Arnold)
Sing, goddess, the anger of Peleus’ son Achilleus
and its devastation, which put pains thousandfold upon the Achaians,
hurled in their multitudes to the house of Hades strong souls
of heroes, but gave their bodies to be the delicate feasting
of dogs, of all birds, and the will of Zeus was accomplished
since that time when first there stood in division of conflict
Atreus’ son the lord of men and brilliant Achilleus. . . .
(The first verses of The Iliad)
Muse make the man thy theme, for shrewdness famed
And genius versatile, who far and wide
A Wand’rer, after Ilium overthrown,
Discover’d various cities, and the mind
And manners learn’d of men, in lands remote.
He num’rous woes on Ocean toss’d, endured,
Anxious to save himself, and to conduct
His followers to their home; yet all his care
Preserved them not; they perish’d self-destroy’d
By their own fault; infatuate! who devoured
The oxen of the all-o’erseeing Sun,
And, punish’d for that crime, return’d no more.
(The first verses of The Odyssey)
I'm reading The Iliad and The Odyssey again. How many times did I read them? I don't know! A lot I guess...
Favorite part? The forging of Achilles' shield (Book 18, lines 468-608). The way Homer describes the process and the shield itself, it is simply beautiful. It's one of the first literary description of visual work of art.
Starting from the shield's center and moving outward, circlelayer by circle layer, the shield is laid out as follows:
1. The Earth, sky and sea, the sun, the moon and the constellations
2. "Two beautiful cities full of people": in one a wedding and a lawcase are taking place; the other city is besieged by onefeuding army and the shield shows an ambush and a battle
3. A field being ploughed for the third time
4. A king's estate where the harvest is being reaped
5. A vineyard with grape pickers
6. A "herd of straight-horned cattle"; the lead bull has beenattacked by a pair of savage lions which the herdsmen and theirdogs are trying to beat off
7. A picture of a sheep farm
8. A dancing-floor where young men and women are dancing
9. The great stream of Ocean
Interpretation of the Shield of Achilles design described in the Iliad, by Angelo Monticelli
I'am really surprised when someone tells me that he/she didn't read these two books. Why?! How?! For me, reading them is a part of general education...general culture. You just simply HAVE TO read them. So...if you didn't...GO AND READ THEM!
Gnjev mi, boginjo pevaj, Ahileja, Peleju sina,
zlosrećni, štono Ahejce u hiljade uvali jada,
duše pak mnogih junaka posla Aidu,
a njih učini same da budu pljačka za psine
i još gozba za ptice - i tako se Divova volja
vršila - , otkad se ono u svađi razišli bili
Atrejev sin, junacima vođa, i divni Ahilej.
(translation by Miloš N. Ćurić)