Mitchell’s insight that we all bring something of ourselves and our own experiences to a poem is an important one. How else is it possible to understand such widely divergent opinions as Simone Weil who saw the Iliad as an indictment of war and of Alexander the Great who said it was “a treasury of military virtue?”
In Ancient Athens we are told, readings of the Iliad drew enormous crowds (20,000!) from all walks of life.
I loved the excerpts from the poem he quotes, which give us an idea of Homer’s masterful use of language and “points to the pleasure we find everywhere in the poem.” If the quality is such throughout, this is going to be one wonderful experience.
Consider these two:
“As, in the night sky, around the light of the moon,
the stars emerge, when the air is serene and windless,
and the stars shine bright, and the heart of the shepherd rejoices:”
“and his head drooped, like a poppy in a spring garden
weighed down with seeds and a heavy rain: so his head
leaned to one side beneath the weight of his helmet.”