Graphic Novel Review: The Iliad

The Iliad: A Graphic Novel by Gareth Hinds. Candlewick Press, 2019. 9780763681135. 272 pp. including author’s notes, a map showing where the armies gathered at Troy came from, a prologue, page-by-page notes, and a bibliography.

Hinds’ graphic novel adaptations of classics are always beautifully painted and worth reading. They remind me of things I’d forgotten (or, more often, they teach me the truth of what I saw in movies). Reading this I learned that The Iliad doesn’t include the entire siege of Troy, or even Achilles’ death. Instead it ends with Hector’s burial, after Hector’s father Priam begs Achilles to let him return his son’s body to Troy. All of this happens after Achilles not only kills Hector but drags his bloody body behind his chariot for a fair while, by leather straps threaded through Hector’s heels. And that is after the Achaeans gather around and stab Hector’s body, after a fight to the death. This book’s most entertaining sequences are gory, violent insanity. Achilles is pretty close to a complete bastard — he only enters the fight after his best friend is killed. Why? Because Agamemnon wanted to take Briseis from Achilles — a woman who Achilles kidnapped after killing her husband and brothers. (More creepy: she seems into him.) At the point the book starts the Greeks have been trying to sack Troy for ten years. They’re not only exhausted, they have to deal with gods interfering all the time, protecting one side or the other, including swooping down onto the battlefield to save whomever they’d like.

This is an crazy story with bloody scenes that would have, when I was in middle or high school, inspired me to reread certain classics one more time (and much more closely).


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