Brann, Eva. Homeric Moments: Clues to Delight in Reading The Odyssey and The Iliad. Philadelphia: Paul Dry Books, 2002.
Brann distills fifty years of experience reading and teaching Homeric poetry into this book, which guides today’s readers to Homer’s most enduring scenes and themes. Brann aims to make Homer’s storytelling come alive by highlighting critical passages, helping readers hear the musicality of the poetic language, and showing the hidden connections that make the poems dense with meaning.
Burkert, Walter. Greek Religion. Trans. John Raffan. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, reprint edition 2006.
Originally published in German in 1977, Burkert’s book is the best available study of Greek religion. This well-researched and readable scholarly volume will help students demystify the polytheistic religious system that plays such a prominent role in Homer’s poems.
Camps, W. A. An Introduction to Homer. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980.
Camps’s slim volume provides students with a concise overview of the Homer’s poems’ plots and characters as well as the major themes necessary for appreciating them. Camps also offers useful historical background on the Bronze Age, which helps the reader more fully imagine the world in which Homer’s poems take place.
Edwards, Mark W. Homer: Poet of The Iliad. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, reprint edition 1990.
Edwards’s book offers an unusually rich companion to the Iliad. The first half of the book comprises twenty short chapters on various thematic and formal aspects of the poem. The second half includes in-depth commentaries on essential episodes throughout the poem.
Griffin, Jasper. Homer on Life and Death. New York: Oxford University Press, 1983.
As the title suggests, Griffin’s study examines the matters of life and death in Homer’s poetry. Griffin offers students a nuanced exploration of how the poet use gods and humans to define each other, and he makes the influential argument that The Iliad is “a poem of death rather than of fighting.”
Kirk, G. S. The Songs of Homer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, new edition 2004.
Kirk’s study of Homer considers issues related to the poem’s authorship and transmission. In contrast to prior scholarly understanding, Kirk takes the poems to be products of a single poet. As such, he aims to demonstrate the literary value and quality of Homer’s “songs.”
Nagy, Gregory. The Best of the Achaeans: Concepts of the Hero in Archaic Greek Poetry. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, revised edition 1998.
Nagy’s book provides an influential account of the relationship between poetic portrayals of heroes and ancient cult practices that developed in honor of Greek heroes. This revised edition includes a new preface by the author.
Silk, M. S. Homer: The Iliad. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2nd edition 2004.
This book is a student guide that offers a critical introduction to The Iliad. In addition to discussing the literary elements of the poem, Silk outlines its historical context and explores issues related to its composition. Silk also offers an overview of the poem’s ongoing literary and cultural significance.
Vivante, Paolo. Homer. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1985.
Vivante’s nuanced study of Homer provides a rich examination of how his poems’ formal and linguistic aspects yield a particular sensation of narrative time—that is, not just an account of events that have already happened but rather a sense of “events in the making.” This work is best suited for intermediate to advanced students of The Iliad.
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