For the past three millennia, Homer has been inspiring and influencing the stories we tell, the art we make, and even the way we talk (think of phrases like "Achilles' heel" or "Trojan horse") From the Romans, who modeled their epics on Homer, to Chaucer and Shakespeare, who both wrote stories set against the backdrop of the Trojan War, to movies like "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" and obviously "Troy," Homer has remained at the forefront of our fictional imagination. So what's the deal with Homer? Why has the Iliad - a tale about a semi-fictional war that happened ages ago - remained so influential?

Andrew Ford, professor of classics at Princeton University, joins us for a discussion on the epic poet and his epic song. What is Homer giving us with this epic? What kind of vision of the world does he present to his audiences? Are there themes and lessons that still resonate with people today? All these questions and more are explored in an animated discussion abounding in pop culture references. Enjoy!


Homer: Poetry of the Past, by Andrew Ford (Cornell University Press 1994)

Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character, by Jonathan Shay

Translations of the Iliad recommended in this episode: Caroline Alexander, Robert Fagles, Robert Fitzgerald, Richmond Lattimore