Reading the greatest stories ever told–The Iliad

DiomedesAphroditeFitger The Iliad is one of the oldest stories in human history. It’s practically the foundation myth of Western culture. It appears in millennia of art. And a hell of a lot of it is boring. I know it’s a bit heretical for a story fanatic like myself to complain about one of the oldest stories around, but parts of it are just so annoying. Anyone who’s read this thing will know what I’m talking about when I complain about the catalogue of ships. And every single goddamned guy has to have his father and grandfather names, some sort of family myth related, and then get either A) A spear jammed in somewhere near his nipple (there are a lot of nipples in this book) or B) his brains graphically knocked out. But other than the boring bits, a lot of the Iliad lives up to the name. The stories are big, the gods are mighty, the men are honorable and prideful by turn. The Iliad takes place in the Greek “Golden Age,” when gods walked among men, and by walked I mean ran around whenever they got bored. We’re talking gods in the trees disguised as birds, gods dressing up like handmaidens or soldiers and chatting with the heros and heroines, gods picking mortals up and depositing them–the list goes on. Zeus personally ordains who’s going to win the day’s battle, and he gets very cross when other gods intervene. It’s very, very cool to read some of the oldest character sketches ever written. It’s fascinating to see the gods treated as men and women, see them complain and bitch and generally act way worse than the mortals.

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