Bernard Knox

  • The Husbands: An Account of Books III and IV of Homer’s ‘Iliad’ by Christopher Logue
    Faber, 55 pp, £6.99, October 1994, ISBN 0 571 17198 2

I first came across Christopher Logue’s ‘account’ of the Iliad in 1975 at Oxford where I went to hear a vigorous reading by two young men of Patrocleia, his version of Book XVI. It was an opportunity to experience the poem in its original medium, by the ear rather than the eye. Homer himself had probably chanted his verses plucking the strings of a lyre, like the bard Demodocus in the Odyssey and for many centuries after his death people did not read Homer: they listened to skilled rhapsodes, whose dramatic delivery mesmerised audiences and earned the performers ample rewards, as we know from Plato’s Ion. I learned later, from the Preface to War Music, that Logue had undertaken the project at the suggestion of Donald Carne-Ross, who was then commissioning a version of the Iliad for the BBC.

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