Falling Awake

Just Darts Since 2009

Lifetime reading plan

Next up on The Lifetime Reading Plan is The Iliad.

[This was written on 6/8/00, after I had read the next several books on the list.  I refer to a couple of them here, but I’ll post their entries later.] 

I probably would enjoy the Iliad even more now that I have read Thucydides.  Its geographical references went over my head and tended to make my eyes glaze over.  That being said, I still enjoyed it, and reading it first aided my appreciation of Herodotus.

The battle scenes are gripping, but the real genius of Homer is in the portrayals of Achilles and Hector.  What surprised me most is that Homer, a Greek poet writing for a Greek audience about the most glorious war in Greek history (to that point), chose to show Hector to be the noblest of all.  And here I thought criticism of one’s own country’s history was confined to twentieth century Americans.  [I wrote this while President Clinton was still in office!]

I just finished Joseph Heller’s Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man, in which he satirizes the Iliad.  I would have understood it before having read it, of course: the story is embedded in our collective unconscious.  But having finally read it increased my enjoyment.  It is my hope that as I read more and more of the “canon,” this feeling of deeper comprehension will increase, and it is to this end that I will continue to “fill in the gaps” in my education, so that I may have a fuller appreciation of how each of the tiles help to complete the grand mosaic.

[No insights here, but then I enjoyed having read it more than I enjoyed actually reading it.  I also was working from memory, having written this months after reading the book.  An aside: as I’m typing this, I have no memory of ever having read that book by Joseph Heller.  I remember the Iliad.]


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