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Recommended translators for Homer, Virgil, etc?

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Recommended translators for Homer, Virgil, etc?

Postby Hunter » Thu Aug 28, 2014 8:40 am

Bill, could you or anyone else list some recommendations for certain translations/translators of some of the classics.

Right now, I want to read both Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. I'm considering several translators which are currently in print: Lattimore, Fitzgerald, and Fagles. Who would you choose, if any? Also, I want to read the Aeneid by Virgil and am leaning towards Fitzgerald rather than Fagles on this one, unless there's a better choice.

Whether or not its worth it, I realize that these are offered in the Loeb Library Series, but its just so costly - though I have purchased them in the past for what I had deemed more necessary writings.

If anyone wants to make any other suggestions regarding a recommended translation on any of the other classics or histories, that would much appreciated as well - Loeb Library Series included (even if its expensive).
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Re: Recommended translators for Homer, Virgil, etc?

Postby wmfinck » Thu Aug 28, 2014 9:31 am

Hunter wrote:Bill, could you or anyone else list some recommendations for certain translations/translators of some of the classics.

Right now, I want to read both Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. I'm considering several translators which are currently in print: Lattimore, Fitzgerald, and Fagles. Who would you choose, if any? Also, I want to read the Aeneid by Virgil and am leaning towards Fitzgerald rather than Fagles on this one, unless there's a better choice.

Whether or not its worth it, I realize that these are offered in the Loeb Library Series, but its just so costly - though I have purchased them in the past for what I had deemed more necessary writings.

If anyone wants to make any other suggestions regarding a recommended translation on any of the other classics or histories, that would much appreciated as well - Loeb Library Series included (even if its expensive).


I do not have Homer or Virgil in the Loeb Library editions (although I have a large collection of others). I wish I did! Maybe someday...

I woul suggest Fitzgerald. I read his translations of Iliad, Odyssey and Aeneid and thought they were good.
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Re: Recommended translators for Homer, Virgil, etc?

Postby bahr » Thu Aug 28, 2014 1:27 pm

You can also download digital (PDF) versions: http://ryanfb.github.io/loebolus/.
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Re: Recommended translators for Homer, Virgil, etc?

Postby Hunter » Fri Aug 29, 2014 9:03 am

bahr wrote:You can also download digital (PDF) versions: http://ryanfb.github.io/loebolus/.


Thanks, Bahr.
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Re: Recommended translators for Homer, Virgil, etc?

Postby Hunter » Fri Aug 29, 2014 9:46 am

wmfinck wrote:
I do not have Homer or Virgil in the Loeb Library editions (although I have a large collection of others). I wish I did! Maybe someday...

I woul suggest Fitzgerald. I read his translations of Iliad, Odyssey and Aeneid and thought they were good.


Bill, being that you're fluent in Koine Greek, how much has that helped you in trying to understand some of the various, older, Greek dialects when reading Hesiod, Homer, Euripides, etc. in their original language, from your Loeb Library editions or other sources?

BTW, thanks for the suggestion regarding Fitzgerald, I went ahead and ordered his translations of the Iliad and the Odyssey. I'll assume you thought he was the truest or fairest to the original text. Unlike some others, didn't he avoid "Latinizing" all of the important proper or familiar nouns? Were there any other reasons why you thought these particular translations were good ones?
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Re: Recommended translators for Homer, Virgil, etc?

Postby wmfinck » Fri Aug 29, 2014 12:02 pm

Hunter, I would not say that I am "fluent" in Koine Greek, and it is impossible for one to be so since there are no Koine Greek speakers. Writing something of my own in Koine Greek is within reach, but it would be a task.

I can read Koine Greek but because of the focus of my reading my vocabulary is mostly limited to the words employed in the Septuagint and the New Testament. I have studied and know some words outside of those, but certainly not the complete lexicon. I can read contemporary material but when I read from writings such as Strabo, Diodorus Siculus or Josephus I need to rely upon a lexicon, sometimes rather heavily. Vocabulary is gained only through practice and I do not have the time required for that outside of my core interest, which is Scripture.

I must say, that I have gotten "rusty" because I am not reading enough of it. But it comes back rather quickly once I start.

That being said, yes, I can recognize a lot of words in Classical Greek, and even recognize many of the Attic forms of words because the lexicons supply those too. But the vocabulary is often very different from that of the Biblical literature, so study would slow tremendously until it is acquired.

Aside from that, the styles of the Tragic poets, the Epic poets, and other genres of writing varies tremendously and each requires its own study to master. Pericopes from Hesiod, for instance, are often totally foreign to me. From what I have read, students of Classical Greek frequently begin with Xenophon's Anabasis, and I have often been tempted to do that, but have not yet had the time.

The Loeb Library books are valuable. When I was endeavoring my translations I spent much time with some of them, comparing the Greek and English in order to help comprehend some of the possibilities of style. They are also valuable because I often perused the Greek to check the translations themselves, in my historical inquiries.

That being said, some of the prose translations I have seen of Homer are arduous to read, dry as dust. I like Fitzgerald because his blank verse style attempts to emulate in English the spirit of the epic poem. He also did well not to Latinize the proper names, a practice which I never appreciated. So even if at first you may trip over some of the words, not being accustomed to the names, you will become accustomed quickly.

After that, I think Fitzgerald's translations are very readable, and he professes to be true to the original Greek. Reading his work, I certainly believe him although I have had no opportunity to compare for myself. I do not have his books now. I have had two copies each of the Iliad and Odyssey in the past, and gave them away.

I hope this helps.

I will check out the PDF links, thanks Bahr!
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