Book Reviews


Blegen, C. W. 1995 Troy and the Trojans, New York

    This is a publication of Blegen's report on his dig at Hisserlik. It is very interesting if one wants to delve into the real archeology of Troy. It is deep, detailed, and fascinating for the Trojan War scholar. For the casual student, or amateur, its heavy going.

Combellack, Frederick M. 1968. The war at Troy (What Homer Didn't Tell) by Quintus of Smyrna, New York.

    Combellack has translated Quintus' The War at Troy from the original Latin poem of around 360 AD into English prose. This poem, which covers the time between the end of THE ILIAD, and the beginning of THE ODYSSEY, is interesting from several points of view. One' it is apparently based on now lost stories which fill the gap between Homer's poems, and is full of interesting people, and events. Two; it shows clearly how superior Homer is as a creator of character, and believable story when compared to other poets who attempt the same subject matter.

Edwards, Mark W. 1987. Homer Poet of the Iliad, Baltimore and London.

    THE ILIAD is analyzed in every way possible. This is an "Everything you ever wanted to know about the Iliad" book. Its a scholars gold mine! While I found the book of great intellectual interest, it did little to further my understanding of how THE ILIAD might have been performed. Still, I recommend it.

Gantz, Timothy.1993 Early Greek Myth, Vol. I, II Baltimore and London

    As complete a referance book on the sources of Mythology as one could wish for. Every character and story theme is traced from its earliest mention through to its latest. Including appearances as vase painting or carving. He includes all the major Greek myths with a large section on The Iliad, and Odyssey.

Lord, Albert B. 1988. The Singer of Tales, Cambridge and London.

    The argument over whether Homer used writing in the composition of his poems is settled. He did not. The technique by which a "Singer" learns, and performs from memory long epic poems is examined and explained. However one would have to be a lot younger, or smarter than I to use it. I disagree with some of his analysis of Homer, but still I strongly recommend the book.

Myres, Sir John L. 1958. Home and His Critics, London.

    Here is a very scholarly, very intellectual, and very difficult read. Some sentences are almost a page long. Mostly it is a history of criticism, and opinion on the "Homeric Question". (Was there a Homer, did he write it, or compose it in his mind?) It covers commentary, or rather opinion, from the time of Peisistratus to mid 20th Century.

Skill, Elaine Strong. 1986. Cliffs Notes on Homer's The Iliad, Lincoln, Nebraska.

    While Cliffs Notes can be used as a substitute for reading THE ILIAD, it does give the basic plot line, and events of the story, I can't recommend it for that use. I's best use is as a convenient pocket guide to THE ILIAD for one who needs quick reference to particular books or events in the poem. It also has some commentary which would help the beginning student become acquainted with the poem.

Vivante, Paolo. 1995. The Iliad Action as Poetry, New York.

    This is a delightful little book, called "A Readers Companion to the Poem", full of interesting insight, and analysis. But it presents a problem. What does one do with commentary on, or a "companion" to, THE ILIAD? Does one read it before, after, during, or instead of THE ILIAD? If before, it makes no sense, if during, its an interruption, if after, its redundant, and instead of is a poor use of time. If one is interested in a variety of opinion on THE ILIAD this book is worth your time.

Willcock, Malcolm M. 1976, A companion to the Iliad, Chicago and London.

    If one is reading Richard Lattimore's translation, this is a book to have at your side. It is like extensive foot-notes, but in a separate book instead of at the bottom of the page. Its probably handy to have with any translation as it identifies characters as they appear and explains much obscure language.

Wood, Michael. 1985. In Search of the Trojan War, New York and Oxford.

    This is the best of all I've read on the world at the time of the Trojan War and after. It is intensely researched, and detailed. It is easy to read and full of ideas which ring true and bring the ancient world to life. I highly recommend it.

The above list comes nowhere near covering all the books available on THE ILIAD. IT includes only those I have read in the recent past. If you have read any of the above books, and do not agree with my assessment of it, please contact me at so I may include your contrary view on this page. Also if you have read a book on THE ILIAD which you enjoyed, or hated, please let me know about it so it may be added to the above list.