From Pine View Farm

Recommended Reading 0

The Iliad and the Odyssey, translated by Samuel Butler.

I have tried to read translations of The Iliad and The Odyssey a number of times and have not been able to get through them. I found the celebrated Rouse translations boring to the point of impenetrability.

I stumbled over a copy of Samuel Butler’s translation at AFK Books and recommend it highly. He makes the correct compromises between faithfulness to the original Greek and English idiom.

There will still be elements of the translation that the contemporary reader might find difficult, because of the cultural divide. The catalog of ships, for example, might have had great significance for the Ancient Greeks, whereas the contemporary American reader could care less (sort of like the “begats” in the Bible spoke to ancient Hebrews, but not to contemporary readers of the Christian Bible).

Nevertheless, if you want a readable version of the Homeric classics, Butler’s translation is a good place to start. And it’s worth the effort.


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