On the Iliad’s ‘Sudden’ Popularity in the UK

Item from Channel Four, largely on the efforts of the Classics for All folks, but also delving into Madeline Miller’s recent gloss on Homer:

I have a confession. I never studied Latin, let alone ancient Greek. And I’ve never read the Iliad. That probably puts me in the majority. However, I now want to. That’s down to Madeline Miller, an american classicist with a total passion for all things mythological.

Ms Miller has rewritten the Iliad as a gay love story. ‘Song of Achilles’ movingly tells the tale of the swift-footed warrior of the Trojan War and his relationship with his friend Patroclus. If you look back to Homer, it’s not a stretch to conceive of their relationship as a homosexual one (Plato did too). Achilles’ grief when his friend is killed in battle is always epic – tragic – even over the top.

Ms Miller seems to be tapping into a new interest in a story that’s more than 2,500 years old. There are three new translations of Homer’s Iliad out this month and next, plus an Iliad-related poem, Memorial, by Alice Oswald.

But the world of publishing isn’t alone in turning to the classics – there’s also a drive to get them back into schools. Classics For All – backed and funded by amongst others, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson – aims to get 100 extra state schools teaching the classics every year until 2020.

Who knows – perhaps one of those pupils will end up doing to the Odyssey what Madeline Miller has done to the Iliad – now what could you do with that tale?

There’s a nice little video report at the above link … worth a look …


UPDATE (the next day): my spiders found the video:

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