The Mighty Dead
Why Homer MattersBook - 2014
In this passionate, deeply personal book, Adam Nicolson explains why Homer matters -- to him, to you, to the world -- in a text full of twists, turns and surprises.
This is a genre-defying book of vast ambition -- a memoir that takes the reader on a spectacular and deeply profound, tender journey through Adam's life, his love of Homer and why this great ancient poet still matters to us all in our search to understand what it is to be human, to love, to lose, to grow old and to die.
Adam Nicolson is one of the greatest writers of landscape and sea -- and this book does not disappoint. He takes his readers on a spectacular journey; from places on the Aegean shores forever haunted by their Homeric heroes, to a disputatious dinner in 19th-century-France; to Keats and his travels in the "realms of gold"; memories of setting sail from a Scottish beach to face the vengeful sea and navigating storms off the coast of Ireland; to Sicily awash with wild flowers, to Bosnia where oral poetry still thrives; to Syria where he is forced to face his own mortality; to the deserted, irradiated steppes of Chernobyl, where Homeric warriors still lie unexcavated under the tumuli. This is a world of springs and drought, seas and cities, all sewn together by the poems themselves, and their great metaphors of life and suffering.
This book is driven by a desire to find the source of Homer's directness and to understand why Homer is still so present and so relevant to us all some 3,700 years after the poems were composed. On every page, it reflects on relationships between fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, on the violence of warriors and the deep-held desires of home-makers, of peace and war, youth and old-age. Like Homer himself, it is a book haunted by transience, by the way memory drifts in the face of time. It is a book that will bring each reader face to face with the meaning of existence in a text as accessible as Orwell and full of surprises.