The iliad is the first and the greatest literary achievement of Greek civilization - an epic poem without rival in the literature of the world, and the cornerstone of Western culture. The story centres on the critical events in the last year of the Trojan War, which lead to Achilleus' killing of Hektor and determine the fate of Troy. But Homer's theme is not simply war or heroism. With compassion and humanity, he presents a universal and tragic view of the world, of human life lived under the shadow of suffering and death, set against a vast and largely unpitying divine background..
Seven Greek cities claim the honour of being the birthplace of Homer (c. 8th-7th century BC), the poet to whom the composition of the Iliadand Odyssey are attributed. The iliad is the oldest surviving work of Western literature, but the identity - or even the existence - of Homer himself is a complete mystery, with no reliable biographical information having survived.
E. V. Rieu initiated Penguin Classics with Allen Lane and his famous translation of the Odyssey was the first book published in the series in 1947. The iliad followed in 1950.