My favorite passage from the Iliad

Book XIII, lines 341-356 (Lombardo translation):

When the Trojans saw Idomeneus

And his lieutenant in their buffed armor

It was as if they had spotted a fire.

Howling winds with gusts up to fifty

On a day when the gravel roadbeds are dry

Will raise up indiscriminate clouds of dust.

That was how they closed with each other,

And all their blind desire was to shred flesh

With stropped bronze, eyes squinting against the glare

Of helmets and corselets—just polished that morning—

And the confusion of shields, like so many suns

Shining through a bristling forest of spears.

It was glorious to see—if your heart were iron,

And you could keep from grieving at all the pain.

It brings together Homer’s portrayal of the glory and horror of war (and you get a taste of Lombardo’s colloquial translation and the way that he treats Homer’s metaphors).


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