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The Iliad - Homer. A translation into English prose by A. S. Kline. Published with Illustrations by Crispijn van de Passe (I), the Workshop of Bernard Picart and Hendrick Goltzius courtesy of the Rijksmuseum.
The Iliad, a major founding work of European literature, is usually dated to around the 8th century BC, and attributed to Homer. It is an epic poem, written in Ancient Greek but assumed to be derived from earlier oral sources, and tells much of the story of the legendary Trojan War between mainland Greece and the city of Troy in Asia Minor. The cultural background to the poem indicates a Bronze Age setting around 400 to 500 years before the Homeric literary period itself. The poem itself centres on the figure of Achilles the Greek warrior, his quarrel with King Agamemnon the Greek leader, the death of Achilles’ friend Patroclus, and Achilles’ ultimate defeat of the Trojan warrior Hector. In the course of relating this core story, the main events of the whole war are covered. The quality of the writing, the thoughtful treatment of warfare, and the thematic interest of the material have made the Iliad the most influential early work of Western literature, certainly from the time of the Renaissance onwards. Modern archaeological investigation has substantiated Homer’s account of Troy’s location and importance, and many of the details of the Bronze Age culture he describes, giving some historical credibility to the original legends he utilised.