August 2nd 2008

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY : WORLD YOUTH DAY 2008: Christianity challenges the secular age

EDITORIAL: A tale of two countries ...

CANBERRA OBSERVED: How Rudd could avoid climate change backlash

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Future threats from China

FOREIGN INVESTMENT: Sovereign Wealth Funds threaten Australia's independence

NATIONAL SECURITY: Let our security services do their job

EDUCATION: Reclaiming the school syllabus

SCHOOLS: Will more computers help under-performing schools?

MARRIAGE AND FAMILY: Under threat - the roles of motherhood and fatherhood

MEDIA: Ten's Big Brother finally bites the dust

STRAWS IN THE WIND: A new political and moral map for Australia?

VICTORIA: Women's Hospital counsel defends abortion

OPINION: Carbon emissions hysteria is economic suicide

AS THE WORLD TURNS: Bastille Day reconsidered / Sharia law in Europe

Answer to water crisis (letter)

Global-warming scepticism challenged (letter)

Advances in solar power technology (letter)

American health care (letter)

BOOKS: FORGOTTEN ANZACS: The campaign in Greece, 1941, by Peter Ewer

BOOKS: HOMER'S THE ILIAD AND THE ODYSSEY: A Biography, by Alberto Manguel

Books promotion page

HOMER'S THE ILIAD AND THE ODYSSEY: A Biography, by Alberto Manguel

by Michael Daniel (reviewer)

News Weekly, August 2, 2008
Imperishable classics

Books That Shook the World

by Alberto Manguel
(Sydney: Allen & Unwin)
Paperback: 300 pages
Rec. price: AUD$24.95

Two of the earliest and most seminal texts in Western literature are The Iliad and The Odyssey, poetic epics written in ancient Greek. Such is their importance that most people have heard of them and know that they are somehow associated with the Trojan Wars.

More specifically, The Iliad focuses on the wrath of the Greek warrior Achilles, and climaxes with his killing of the Trojan prince, Hector. The Odyssey tells the story of the wanderings of the warrior Odysseus after the fall of Troy and his battles with the suitors, who are trying to win the hand of his wife Penelope, upon his return to Ithaca.

After providing a summary of each work, Alberto Manguel discusses the formulation of the texts and the issue of authorship. In line with contemporary scholarship, the texts of The Iliad and The Odyssey were originally oral texts composed and crafted by illiterate bards over centuries before finally being committed to writing. Furthermore, some doubt whether Homer actually existed.

Most of Manguel's work explores the influence of these writings on Western thought and literature from the classical period to the present.

For example, the Roman writer Virgil makes extensive references to events in these Greek epics in his seminal work The Aeneid, written in the first century BC.

The Christian fathers, such as Jerome and Augustine, who had been educated in the classics, attempted to reconcile elements from these great pieces of literature with Christian thought. Thus emerged the idea that the great works of pagan literature were a cultural grounding/preparation for the reception of the Gospel in the pagan world.

This positive endorsement of such works of literature was crucial in their survival.

Manguel also explores the impact of Homer on Islamic thought and the revival of the study of Greek in the West in the 15th century when Greek scholars fled Constantinople after its fall in 1453.

He makes the interesting observation that, after the Reformation, the study of Greek tended to be confined to Protestant countries, whereas Catholic countries tended to focus on the study of Latin.

While Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey contains some interesting insights into the impact of these seminal works of literature, this volume presumes some knowledge of Western thought and literature, and at times the analysis can become somewhat tedious.

What is fascinating is the way in which virtually every generation in its literature has responded to and incorporated stories and themes from these great epics.

All you need to know about
the wider impact of transgenderism on society.
TRANSGENDER: one shade of grey, 353pp, $39.99

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