The Iliad


Illustrated by Grahame Baker-Smith

Introduced by Bernard Knox

Translated by Robert Fagles

Homer’s epic poem relating a bloody clash of powers transcends the centuries in the hands of translator Robert Fagles, and is transformed into an exceptional collector’s edition by Folio.

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As palaces are set ablaze, swords clash and lives are lost, it is impossible not to be moved by Homer’s 2,500-year-old descriptions of battle. In fact, never has the all-consuming power of war been more forcefully conveyed than in his spine-chilling epic, The Iliad.

Presented in a beautiful, quarter-bound buckram binding, this renowned translation by Robert Fagles is eloquent and accessible, drawing new readers and those familiar with the text into the heart of the ferocious ten-year war. As befits the era, Grahame Baker-Smith’s illustrations play with mythological allusion, while Bernard Knox discusses the Homeric tragedy and the nuances of this translation in an introduction that ensures this edition should be on every collector’s shelf.

Production details

Quarter-bound in blocked buckram with printed cloth sides

Set in Monotype Centaur

688 pages

Frontispiece and 7 colour illustrations

Printed map endpapers

Blocked slipcase

10˝ x 6 ¾˝

The spark that ignited unprecedented bloodshed

Begin, Muse, when the two first broke and clashed, Agamemnon lord of men and brilliant Achilles

The spark that ignites the Greeks’ legendary struggle to take golden Troy is the abduction of the beautiful Helen by Paris, son of King Priam. However, it is a single episode in the siege’s tenth and final year, the quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles, which Homer takes as the thread that binds the ensuing tragedy. Admist the violence, Homer’s characters, whether gods or men, are presented with subtle realism, revealing that the passions and problems that beset humanity are both timeless and universal.

Composed in the late 8th or early 7th century BC, the original Greek work extends to over 15,000 lines. The sheer scale of the text points to the theory that the complete poem resulted from the collation of oral performances of sections of the work. Once gathered together, these would have eventually been written down, as Greeks began to record literature on papyrus. Few early records of the poem remain, and yet its literary power ensured it was preserved in written form over the centuries. Today, it still resonates with universal human truths: the propensity for love and suffering; the endless struggle between war and peace; and the inevitability of death: all Western literature can be traced back to this epic poem.

‘When a hand reached down to mine, across 3,000 years, and I felt its reassuringly human touch. It can bring tears to your eyes’ 

  1. The Guardian

About Homer

Homer was believed to have been born between the 12th and 8th centuries BC and may have lived on the coast of Asia Minor. Little is known about his life beyond which can be gleaned in his stories, and there have been many assumptions made based on his writing and the characters that appear in his work. It is generally accepted that The Iliad was written first and The Odyssey was written later in Homer’s life. Although these are the only two works attributed to Homer, many others have been linked to him, including Homeric Hymns.

About Robert Fagles

Robert Fagles was born in Philadelphia in 1933. He graduated from Amherst College in 1955 and went on to study for a master’s degree at Yale University. He continued to study at Yale, gaining his PhD in English in 1959 and staying at the university to teach English. His first work of translation was of the poetry of Bacchylides, and during the 1970s he translated a number of Greek dramas, including Homer’s The Iliad (1990) and The Odyssey (1996). In 1978, Fagles published I, Vincent: Poems from the Pictures of Van Gogh. He died at his Princetown home in 2008.

About Bernard Knox

Bernard Knox was born in Bradford in 1914. He studied Classics at Cambridge, after which he fought in the Spanish Civil War with the Republican forces. After the Second World War, Knox studied at Yale and earned a doctorate. He worked as a professor and went on to lead the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington. As well as writing the introductions to Robert Fagles’s translations of Homer’s The Iliad (1990) and The Odyssey (1996) and Virgil’s Aeneid (2006), he wrote a number of books including Oedipus at Thebes: Sophocles’ Tragic Hero and His time (1957). Knox died in 2010.

About Grahame Baker-Smith

Grahame Baker-Smith is a self-taught illustrator. He began to experiment with digital techniques, including Photoshop, several years ago, and now combines painting and drawing in traditional media with photographed and scanned textures, enjoying the control that digital methods give an artist over every aspect of the image. He has illustrated 16 books for The Folio Society, including Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne (2001), The Siege and Fall of Troy by Robert Graves (2005), Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi (2011) and The Time Machine & The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells (2019).


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