"The Iliad, the greatest of epic poems, still astonishes by its graphic brilliance, depth of humanity, and masterly construction. Martin West puts himself in the poet's shoes and reconstructs his aims and methods and the process by which he built up his mighty work and fixed it in writing. Drawing on two hundred years of Homeric scholarship and combining the best insights of Analysts and Unitarians, West shows how to distinguish the successive layers of composition that reflect the stages of the poet's workings, throwing light not only on the growth of the poem but also on the evolution of the poet's art and of his conception of the Trojan War. At the same time he points out the use of typical scenes and themes, material adapted from epic songs on other subjects, traditional techniques and motifs traceable back to Indo-European inheritance, and others taken over from the Near East. A persuasive picture is drawn of the poet in his historical context: brought up in north Ionia in the early decades of the seventh century, later travelling more widely, perhaps as far as Cyprus, finally finding patronage with the descendants of Aeneas in the Troad"--Publisher description, p.  of dust jacket.