Richard Sacks -- Spring 2022
Five-session course -- online (via Zoom) with class size limited to 23
Tuesday evenings, 6:30-8:30pm MDT
March 15, 22, 29, April 5, 12, 2022
For nearly 3000 years, Homer's Iliad has captured and haunted the imaginations of generation after generation. Indeed, the first 15 years of the 21st century witnessed over a dozen new translations just into English alone. So what is it that still moves us today about this tragic story set in a few short weeks during the 10th and final year of the seemingly endless Trojan War, a conflict that had already become part of the dim, dark, mythic past even for the Iliad's ancient Greek audiences? Join Dr. Richard Sacks, who spent four decades at Columbia University teaching texts such as the Iliad, Odyssey, Aeneid, Beowulf and Genesis, in a close reading of this dazzling and daunting poem as it ruthlessly confronts us with explosive and seemingly imponderable questions about the human condition and our place in the cosmos. Looming large within those questions is the agonizing issue of how war affects the human spirit: our sense of our own humanity; the way we look at the core values of the societies in which we live and serve; our ability to see ourselves and others clearly; the ways we view our gods and the mythic landscapes they inhabit; and ultimately, our willingness and ability to come to terms with the inescapable fact of our mortality.
Note on Translations:
The edition/translation which we will be using in class is: Homer, The Iliad, A New Translation by Peter Green, published in 2015 by the University of California Press and issued in paperback* in 2019 (ISBN 978-0520281431). Students are welcome to use the translation of their choice, keeping in mind that choosing a translation often involves a difficult set of trade-offs when it comes to readability, accuracy, and the inevitability of a translator's interpretive prejudice. Green's translation is not always the most beautiful one, but by and large it comes closest to the original Greek without crossing the line into unreadability or interpretive prejudice. It also corresponds very closely to the line numbers in the Greek text (as was the case with Lattimore's 1965 translation), a feature which makes things much easier when it comes to finding one's place in the text (and in class!) and taking advantage of powerful online tools for analysis.