Joachim. Homer: His Art and His World. Tr. by James
P. Holoka. Michigan, 1996. 175p bibl index afp ISBN 0-472-10657-0, $29.95.
Reviewed in 1996nov CHOICE.
This introduction to Homer by a Swiss scholar who is one of the most
authoritative figures in the field was originally published in German
in 1985. The present work brings it to English-speaking readers in a
skillful and fluent translation that updates citations of Homeric scholarship
to 1994. Latacz does a masterful job of making understandable to nonspecialists
a number of the technical aspects of the composition of the Homeric
poems and the scholarship that has addressed these issues for the past
200 years. He provides an impressive synthesis and evaluation of the
literary, historical, and archaeological evidence for Homer's life,
work, and historical environment. He also provides an analysis of the
core themes of both the Iliad and Odyssey. What he
does not do is present an overall survey of the action of the Iliad
(or the Odyssey), the kind of survey that both E.T. Owen (in
The Story of the Iliad, 1946) and Seth Schein (in The Mortal
Hero, CH, Oct'84) very effectively accomplished, in different ways,
for the Iliad. However, students and scholars will find Latacz's
book-by-book outline of the action of the Iliad (table 1) extremely
helpful. But the most important lesson that Latacz teaches is to admire
the scholarship and despise the pedantry that interferes with passionate
appreciation of one of the greatest poets in the Western tradition.
We need more of his kind.
Upper-division undergraduates; graduates;
L. Golden, Florida State University