Iliad Group Read This Summer

One positive thing that 2020 has brought me is group reads on Instagram. It has been a pleasant surprise, and a growing experience, to discover that an app designed to share photos could also become the source of though-provoking, in-depth discussions of classical literature.

Since the beginning of this year, I’ve enjoyed participating in discussions on Euripides’ Medea and Iphigenia at Aulis and Sappho’s poetry fragments, led by a classics PhD student whose account is @readingancientclassics on Instagram. Discussion participants have fallen on various points along the continuum from seasoned classical researchers to readers who are new to ancient texts, and that has enriched the discussion. I’m looking forward to discussing more Athenian tragedies with the group over the summer, all of them relating to the myths surrounding Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, and their children.

Reading these texts has inspired me to revisit the Iliad. I just reread it in February, but one of the gifts of Homer is that each translation brings a new perspective to the discussion. As yet, I’ve only read three among the dozens of English translations in existence. I have so many more to discover. Reading these texts as a group has inspired me to host a group read of the Iliad, which brings me to the purpose of this piece: It’s a general call for anyone who is interested to join me in reading the Iliad this summer. The poem is the product of a specific time and place, but it is also a poem about humanity in any time and place.

I will moderate a group chat on Instagram, but readers who aren’t on that platform are invited to participate in any way they choose, whether privately or via blogs, vlogs, or social media. My reread will start with Anthony Verity’s translation, because I enjoyed his Odyssey, but I’m also hoping to dip into Caroline Alexander’s. Participants are invited to read any translation, in any language. For anyone who needs a recommendation, among the English translations I've read, I especially enjoyed the verse of Stephen Mitchell and the accessibility of E. V. Rieu's prose.

Want to participate? Have any questions? Just want to share some random related thoughts? You can find more information on Instagram here and me @bookishinCT on Instagram and Twitter.


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