When we think of the origins of storytelling, we often refer to Homer’s epic stories THE ILIAD and THE ODYSSEY. The classics were originally oral stories told as a way to preserve the history and the glory of the battles and adventures of the Greek civilization. They were transcribed in the 8th century BC, and the serial form of a podcast seems to align with Homer’s intent. Spun out in 24 “books,” THE ILIAD is our new featured audiobook for Audiobook Break.
AudioFile’s chapter-by-chapter podcast will publish two episodes of Homer’s epic of the Trojan War narrated by Anton Lesser each week. Naxos AudioBooks is once again partnering with us to make available Lesser’s brilliant recording from Ian Johnston’s translation. The battles between the Greeks and the Trojans are vivid, the scheming and interference of the Gods devilish. Anton Lesser is so skilled as a narrator that his performance hits all the marks. He gets the emphasis just right and lets the power of the words drive the action and the tragedy.
The multiple layers of the mythology involving the gods and the men and women of Troy have been the subject of quite a few recent novels including THE SILENCE OF THE GIRLS and the brand-new THE WOMEN OF TROY (both Pat Barker); DAUGHTERS OF SPARTA (Claire Heywood); and A THOUSAND SHIPS (Natalie Haynes). An older but wonderful audiobook is TROY for young adults by Adèle Geras and read by Miriam Margolyes.
Any of these are great prep or side-by-side listening with THE ILIAD. I was delighted with Fry’s TROY as it sorted so many details of the back story, and Fry forgives readers for getting confused! If digging into mythology-inspired audiobooks is your passion, we prepared a grand curated list of audiobooks “Inspired by Mythology.”
Want to jump right in and listen? Start with my conversation about THE ILIAD with podcast host Jo Reed. Episode 2 starts Homer’s Book 1. Listeners can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Or you can listen from the AudioFile website pages.
Where did the idea for Audiobook Break come from?
Listening to books broadcast chapter by chapter was popular starting in the 1930s in America and Britain. BBC Radio4’s “Book at Bedtime” is still on the air, as is Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Chapter A Day.” Many listeners, myself included, were introduced to audiobooks with Dick Estell’s syndicated “Radio Reader” program. Daily programs were a catalyst for early audiobook publishers in the 1970s to make chapters always available. The release of “Serial” from “This American Life” in 2014 heralded a new age of podcast programs and stories in serial form.
An explosion of growth of podcast listening has been taking place as more and more podcasts become available. The interest in true crime podcasts has stayed strong, while the growth of news podcasts is an easy second. Many podcasters simply talk about the things they love—food, clothes, roadtrips, health. And books. And audiobooks—that’s what we do with Behind the Mic with AudioFile Magazine. We like to think about the crossover, and the intersection of podcasts and audiobooks. Does the serialized podcast form make long-form audiobooks easier to approach for the first time? Does the short episode format seem less of a time commitment? We just decided Audiobook Break was an idea to try—so welcome to Season 2 and THE ILIAD by Homer, read by Anton Lesser.
Why take an audiobook break?
- After a long day, a little escape is just the thing.
- Spark up a day that doesn’t seem to have enough variety.
- Relax and get carried away by one of the greatest stories of all time.