Our book of the year has a claim to being the oldest story ever written down for the pleasure and inspiration of its readers. Whoever Homer was, his genius is obvious in the telling of the story and the influence it has had over almost 3000 years. Our boys are thrilled at the prospect of reading and responding to something so epic and so exciting.
This is the 10th running of our Book of the Year – every year it is something different and by coinciding this time with our emphasis on our Centenaries and the First World War, here we have a military theme which allows us to focus on the universal issues of war and loss, glory and grief.
The meaning of the Iliad as a work of art was summarised beautifully by my old college tutor and renowned classicist Colin Macleod, and I would like to share his words with you:
The Iliad is concerned with battle and with men whose life is devoted to winning glory in battle; and it represents with wonder their strength and courage. But its deepest purpose is not to glorify them, and still less to glorify war itself. What war represents … is humanity under duress and in the face of death; and so to enjoy or appreciate The Iliad is to understand and feel for human suffering.