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War is raging between the Greeks and the Trojans. Achilles, the great warrior champion of the Greek army, is angrily sulking in his tent and refusing to fight, after a row with his leader Agamemnon. But when the Trojan king Hector kills Achilles' beloved friend, he plunges back into the battle to seek his bloody revenge - even though he knows it will bring about his own doom. Robert Graves' gripping, vigorous retelling of "The Iliad" portrays quarreling kings and tarnished heroes, who leave suffering women behind them and are watched over by capricious gods and goddesses. It takes a revered classic back to its roots as popular entertainment.
The Greeks attributed both the Iliad and the Odyssey to a single poet whom they named Homer. Nothing is known of his life, though received opinion dates him c. 700 BC and places him in Ionia, the Greek-inhabited coast and islands off central western Turkey. Most modern scholars place the composition of the Iliad in the second half of the eighth century BC. Robert Graves was born in 1895 in Wimbledon. He went from school to the First World War, where he became a captain in the Royal Welch Fusiliers. Apart from a year as Professor of English Literature at Cairo University in 1926 he earned his living by writing, mostly historical novels which include I, Claudius and Claudius the God. He wrote his autobiography, Goodbye to All That in 1929 and it rapidly established itself as a modern classic. He translated Apuleius, Lucan and Suetonius for the Penguin Classics series, and compiled the first modern dictionary of Greek Mythology. He was elected Professor of Poetry at Oxford in 1961, and made an Honorary Fellow of St John's College, Oxford, in 1971. He died on 7 December 1985 in Majorca, his home since 1929.