Moments of posturing and murder before the fall of Troy: Christopher Logue’s War Music: an account of Books 1-4 and 16-19 of Homer’s Iliad

Achiles and Hector

A exquisitely written and consistently gripping new version of parts of the Iliad, starting from Achilles’ quarrel with Agamemnon and ending with Achilles arming for battle against Hector.

In between these two points the book is brimming with arresting images and ideas: Hector compared to a desert burned Rommel; Apollo as “Lord of Light and Mice”, the Sun-god and the bringer of plague; The fate of Troy decided in an ill-tempered negotiation amongst the gods echoes contemporary discussions in corridors of power to visit slaughter on nations and cities half a world away; and, almost as an aside, with the consistent referencing to Zeus as “God” and Apollo “his son” Logue asserts significant Greek influences on the development of Christianity, at the same time making the contemporary resonances of the work all the more stark.

I am not familiar with other adaptations or translations of the Iliad so cannot make any useful comparisons, but I found Christopher Logue’s reworking of the Iliad an exceptional work of poetry – funny, chilling, horrific and thought-provoking by turns. A stunning piece of work.

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