The Once And Future ‘Iliad’

Homer’s “Iliad” made new. A one-man performance brings the ancient tale home for modern men and women.

Denis O'Hare in "An Iliad"

Denis O’Hare in “An Iliad” (Joan Marcus)

“Sing, O muse, of the rage of Achilles,” begins the Iliad, Homer’s great epic of ancient war at the gates of Troy. And we are instantly swept away to a time of chariots and swords, spears and shields, gods and men and battle.

But there is nothing purely ancient about war, says my guest today, Denis O’Hare, actor and co-creator of a new Iliad for the stage. A one-man show that goes to the walls of Troy, then brings Homer forward, through centuries of war after war. Brings the Iliad right into our laps.

Up next On Point: an Iliad for our time, and the human rage for war.

– Tom Ashbrook


Denis O’Hare, star and co-creator — with director Lisa Peterson — of the one-man play “An Iliad,” which just ended a run at ArtsEmerson’s Paramount Theater in Boston. (@denisohare)

Live Performance

O’Hare performed four excerpts from “An Iliad” live during our show. Listen:


From Tom’s Reading List

The Boston Globe: A One-Man ‘Iliad’ Comes To ArtsEmerson — “When actor Denis O’Hare and director Lisa Peterson began developing their theatrical adaptation of Homer’s ‘The Iliad’ in 2005, the United States was embroiled in two simultaneous wars halfway around the world. Yet the duo never intended their update of Homer’s ancient epic poem, about the brutality of the Trojan War, to be an antiwar jeremiad. Indeed, the collaborators came to the project, ‘An Iliad,’ with differing passions and perspectives about the seemingly insatiable human thirst for violence and destruction.”

The Daily Beast: Denis O’Hare Talks About One-Man Show “An Iliad” — “Our original impulse was to write our version and then walk into a bar and see if we could get anyone to listen to us. Or stand under a bridge or in a coffee shop. Our narrator, the Poet, enters a room and starts talking. It can be any room. Think back to bardic tradition and storytelling tradition, and that’s all it ever it was. One-on-one entertainment.”

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