The University of Wisconsin Press

Classics / Literature & Criticism

Perfidy and Passion
Reintroducing the Iliad
Mark Buchan

Wisconsin Studies in Classics
Patricia A. Rosenmeyer, Laura McClure, and Mark Stansbury-O’Donnell, Series Editors

A new interpretation of Homer’s Iliad revealing that the secrets Homer’s characters cling to are as important as what they tell

Homer’s Iliad is often considered a poem of blunt truthfulness, his characters’ motivation pleasingly simple. A closer look, however, reveals a complex interplay of characters who engage in an awful lot of lies. Beginning with Achilles, who hatches a secret plot to destroy his own people, Mark Buchan traces motifs of deception and betrayal throughout the poem. Homer’s heroes offer bluster, their passion linked to and explained by their lack of authenticity. Buchan reads Homer’s characters between the lies, showing how the plot is structured individual denial and what cannot be said.

Portrait of author Mark BuchanMark Buchan has taught classics at the University of Washington, Princeton University, and Columbia University. He has also published on a wide range of topics within Greek literature and philosophy. His main scholarly focus has been on the Homeric poems. He lives in New York.


“Buchan shows that deception and betrayal play a fundamental role in the classic poems, confirming that what is unsaid, and even the lies told, are as important as what is said.”

“Original, thoughtful, and thought-provoking. Buchan does not get mired in scholarly argument or in proofs of his own originality or authority. Instead he goes right to work, interpreting the Iliad with great perception and imagination.”
—Louise Pratt, Emory University

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Of Related Interest:
Ancient essays and literature.The Matter of the Page
Essays in Search of Ancient and Medieval Authors
Shane Butler

“A smart, insightful, and ultimately persuasive book about the nature of the page from antiquity into the Middle Ages. . . .Butler has made a bold attempt to break down the blood-brain barrier between ideas and texts, signifiers and signifieds, and to suggest that the very space on/in which the text plays out informs the text that is played out there.”—Sarah Spence, Renaissance Quarterly

Image is of the Trojan Horse on a red background

August 2012
LC: 2011047343 PA
192 pp.    6 x 9

Book icon Paper $29.95 s
ISBN 978-0-299-28634-7
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