Anger be now your song, immortal one,
Akhilleus' anger, doomed and ruinous,
that caused the Akhaians loss on bitter loss
and crowded brave souls into the undergloom,
leaving so many dead men-carrion
for dogs and birds; and the will of Zeus was done.
Since it was first published, Robert Fitzgerald's prizewinning translation of Homer's battle epic has become a classic in its own right: a standard against which all other versions of The Iliad are compared. Fitzgerald's work is accessible, ironic, faithful, written in a swift vernacular blank verse that "makes Homer live as never before" (Library Journal).
When Helen of Sparta, the wife of Menelaus, is stolen away by Paris, the Prince of Troy, Menelaus and his brother Agamemnon declare war against Troy. A war that has continued for ten years, Homer's epic poem, the Iliad, opens with a disagreement between the Greek military commander Agamemnon and his greatest warrior Achilles. When Achilles withdraws from the army following the argument, the Greeks soon suffer great loses. Achilles' close friend Patroclus devises a plan to help his struggling comrades, and the Greeks are able to regain ground but at the high cost of Patroclus's life. Enraged by this, Achilles seeks to avenge his friend's death, and in turn takes the lives of hundreds of Trojan soldiers and that of Patroclus's killer, Hector, the son of the King of Troy. The poem ends with the Trojan king Priam begging Achilles for his son's body. pb. ~ Enh