RIVERS OF FIRE: Mythic Themes in Homer’s Iliad

Christopher J. Mackie
New Academia Publishing, 2008
260 Pages
ISBN 978-0-9800814-2-8 Paperback

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About the Author

Chris Mackie is Associate Professor of Classics and Director of the Centre for Classics and Archaeology at the University of Melbourne. His earlier research was on the Roman poet Virgil on which he published a monograph, The Characterisation of Aeneas (1988).  Since then his research has focused on the epics of Homer, Greek mythology, and on the reception of ancient cultures in contemporary culture. He was co-editor and contributor (with W. Haslem and A. Ndalianis) in a New Academia volume entitled Super/Heroes: From Hercules to Superman (2007).

About the book

Rivers of Fire argues that in the Iliad an evolution in heroic conduct is meant to have taken place. The earlier defeat of Troy by Heracles was completed with a level of humanity and compassion. The city survived and prospered after the crisis of Heracles’ defeat. The emphasis in the later sack of Troy in the Iliad, however, is on the use of fire as a means of utterly destroying the city. There will be no survival for Troy this second time around, once Agamemnon and his army are within its magnificent walls. The book explores this vision of war through four important symbolic themes—Monsters, Horses, Archers, and Fire.


“Mackie offers a compelling and very coherent interpretation of the Iliad.  Its clear and jargon-free style will make it an attractive addition to any reading list on epic.”
— Peter Toohey, Professor and Head of Classics, University of Calgary.

“This book is a significant contribution to our understanding both of Homer and of Greek myth. Moreover, its discussion of war and its consequences strikes a note very much in tune with our own contemporary world.”
— John Davidson, Professor of Classics, Victoria University of Wellington.