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Critical reception to ’The Iliad’. By Abba, Liz, Darcie & Lydia. Overview.

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critical reception to the iliad

Critical reception to ’The Iliad’

By Abba, Liz, Darcie & Lydia


‘The Iliad’, mainly credited to Homer, has gained much critical reception since its devise in c. 1194–1184 BC. The epic poem tells almost the complete story of the Trojan War, and was a standard work of great importance in Classical Greece. It then returned to print in Italy and Western Europe in the 15th century, mainly translated into Latin.Homer also came to be of great influence in European culture with the resurgence of interest in Greek antiques during the Renaissance, and it remains the first and most influential work of the Western canon. Many works of popular literature have been based around ‘The Iliad’, throughout history; William Shakespeare used the plot of ‘The Iliad’ as source material for his play ’Troilus and Cressida’.

18 th century reception
18th Century reception

The famous English poet, Alexander Pope, had developed a interest for ‘The Iliad’ since childhood, and decided to write his own translation of the epic. Released between 1715 and 1720, the poem was acclaimed, but thought to be no equal of Homer’s original verse.

The appreciation for ‘The Iliad’ became part of the world of art also, paintings recreating the Battle of Ilium emerged in the 18th Century, one of the most notable being John Flaxman’s ‘The Iliad’.

However Homer’s poem was openly criticised as well as esteemed in the 18th century, due to his works being applied to the judgement of reason. It was claimed the work was ‘barbaric’, and did not fit into the standards of the refined modern times. To counter this argument came the idea that Homer should be taken from the realms of literature to that of philosophy and history, just as Aristotle had been taken from science.

19 th century reception
19th century reception

Due to the Romanticism at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries, Homer’s appreciation grew once more, due to the radical change that took place in the reading of the public. ’The Iliad’ was thought to be the poem of a ’natural genius’, in that it was the central work that German critics built their theories of the objective and the naïve upon. From this point in reception, ‘The Iliad’ has been firmly guaranteed as a canon of Western literature.

In the 19th Century, Homer’s ‘The Iliad’ became a part of the British education system, particularly focused upon the questions it raised on social and political concepts.

20 th century reception

‘The Iliad’ was translated into a theatrical production, so to make it more accessible to the general populace. It was a very basic version of the epic, due to the length and content of Homer’s original work, but the appreciation of the poem grew once again.

The extent of ‘The Iliad’s’ acclaim meant that it was integrated in Higher Education, and so could be developed in the depth it was deserved of.