The Iliad: A Commentary: Volume 1, Books 1-4

This is the first volume of a projected six-volume Commentary on Homer’s Iliad, under the General Editorship of professor G. S. Kirk. Professor Kirk himself is the editor of the present volume, which covers the first four Books of Iliad. It consists of four introductory chapters, dealing in particular with rhythm and formular techniques, followed by the detailed commentary which aims at helping serious readers by attempting to identify and deal with most of the difficulties which might stand in the way of a sensitive and informed response to the poem. The Catalogues in Book 2 recieve especially full treatment. The book does not include a Greek text - important matters pertaining to the text are discussed in the commentary. It is hoped that the volume as a whole will lead scholars to a better understanding of the epic style as well as of many well-known thematic problems on a larger scale. This Commentary will be an essential reference work for all students of Greek literature. Archaeologists and historians will also find that it contains matters of relevance to them.


List of maps; Preface; Abbreviations; Editorial introduction: the methods and aims of the commentary; Introduction; 1. The making of the Iliad: preliminary considerations; 2. The structural elements of Homeric verse; 3. Aristarchus and the scholia; 4. The first four Books of the Iliad in context; Commentary; Book 1; Book 2; Special index to commentary on the Achaean and Trojan catalogues; Book 3; Book 4; Index.


‘The two great contributions of this volume are on the one hand the account of the Catalogues in Book Two, and on the other the close and rewarding attention which is paid to questions of rhythm. Again and again Kirk brings out effects … created by the variation of rhythm … It is in this area that I have learnt most from this commentary, and I regard it as a major advance of the sort which, once made, must be followed by all subsequent Homerists … All those who read Homer will find new and illuminating observations both of fine detail and on a larger scale. The complete commentary will be a valuable possession.’

– Jasper Griffin, The Times Literary Supplement

‘[Professor Kirk] demonstrates and assesses the poet’s individual skill in composition, tacitly correcting the extreme Parryist view that Homer merely manipulated pre-existing formulas. This is highly original. The section of the Introduction devoted to it … offers the best analysis of the mechanics of Homeric poetry that this reviewer has read.’

– M. M. Willcock, Journal of Hellenic Studies

‘Kirk’s chief merit as an expositor is his awareness of the subtlest nuances of poetic technique … The introduction and commentary as a whole form an excellent companion to Books 1-4.’

– J. T. Booker, JACT Review