Essentially, do you cleave to integrity or niftily skirt around obstacles? I liked the choice presented as Achilles or Odysseus, the singular hero or the ingenious man (or woman, this isn’t a gender-specific issue).

Nicolson’s wondrous book poses many questions about being human, as well as demonstrating how Homer can help us find our way towards a wiser way of living. (While being among the greatest poetry ever created.)   

See the WritingRedux bestellar review of this quirky, wise, beautifully wrought homage to Homer.

‘These are the two possibilities of human life. You can either do what your integrity tells you to do, or niftily find your way around the obstacles life throws in your path. That is the great question the poems pose. Which will you be? Achilles or Odysseus, the monument of obstinacy and pride or the slippery trickster in whom nothing is certain and from whom nothing can be trusted? The singular hero or the ingenious man?’


Source: Adam Nicolson, The Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters (London: William Collins, 2015), p. 60

Photo credit: Jens Lelie at


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