reed reeds the Great Books (currently on: the odyssey)

@Father.Torque I’m gonna do the Great Books thing over the next… i figure couple of years? i remember you said it was one of the more worthwhile things you’ve done, so the heck with it

to start, what translation of The Iliad do u recommend?

(others please chime in as well)

@Tulpa as well

ha, i was thinking about posting this question in the books thread earlier today

i’ve liked the excerpts i’ve read of homer, but actually trying to approach this stuff in full has been too intimidating for me

also i mostly just want to read it for the sake of being a more interesting gm so that is probably a weird reason

i ended up being an impulse buyer, pulled the trigger on lattimore (1951) translations of the iliad and odyssey

There is endless argument about which modern translation is best, go with what you like more from excerpts. However, I would like to recommend checking out Alexander Pope’s translation as well. It is very uniquely and beautifully written.


homer is really easy to read, in truth. in translation, anyway, what the fuck do I know about ancient greek.

a lot of people seem to get hung up on the second book of the iliad because it is literally nothing but a catalog of the participating families and clans, but that shit was kinda hype to me.

I’ve read the lattimore and fagles versions and I prefer fagles. a little more lyrical.

Should be noted that Pope’s translation is from 1715-1720 and the 1899 copyright is only for that tedious introduction that can be safely skipped.

Fitzgerald 4 Life : |

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Should be pretty obvious that people will rep for literally any of the major translations. I pretty much rep for Pope because it has the clarity of english written before the 19th century without the deadening simplicity and linguistic poverty found in modernist writers.

That’s it Olympia shall be put to the torch


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The crackling flames ascend, and blaze above;
The fires expanding, as the winds arise,
Shoot their long beams, and kindle half the skies:



I’m mostly salty over having actually bought a modern translation of the Kalevala that is tin-eared trash. Modern writers have earned a reputation of writing in a discursive, prosodic style that avoids any markers of poetry for fear that it would seem gilded. That kind of stuff is enervating when applied to an epic form. Fitzgerald and Fagles mostly avoid it but Lattimore is very guilty of the sort of insipidity that it’s recognizable from the first page if you’re as intolerant of it as I am.

I mean seriously, every other translator started the Iliad with “Rage”, “Anger” “Achilles’ Wrath” and Lattimore started with

Sing, goddess, the anger of Peleus’ son Achilleus
and its devastation, which put pains thousandfold upon the Achaians

It’s like starting a translation of Beowulf by moving the iconic Hwæt! to the middle of a line.


oh, I thought you were going off on a tangent about modernist writers, not modern translators

Misspoke because it’s 2 am for me and I am 4 beers deep.

I like James Joyce just fine


Lattimore is my preferred, because it rings most like the Greek, but I studied Greek so that’s important to me. Fagles is the other contender, which is better English poetry but slightly less “accurate” (and slightly less Greek-feeling). If you don’t have any particular love for ancient Greek you might like Fagles better. But I’m a rich white Yankee lawyer so I prefer Lattimore’s granite-like blandness on an aesthetic level.

The Pope translation is cool-verging-on-hilarious (translating the Iliad into iambic pentameter rhyming couplets? adorable) but shouldn’t be your first experience with the poem, it’s far too divergent from the original to give you its true flavor.


I feel like I should probably read this at some point. I read the Odyssey in high school, and started my Latin education by translating the shitty Ilias Latina, so I guess I should get around to it.

I dig Logue’s work–and was disappointed when he passed with it incomplete–but he didn’t know Greek and called it “an account” of Homer and not a translation.

I think a lot of my appreciation of it was predicated on already being familiar with The Text in several other forms when I read it.

I will forever rep Eino Friberg’s version with its deeply bizarre illustrations.

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yeah this is what i figured! comparing the translations (excerpts) i found pope took a lot of liberties which, while they sound great and really make the text ‘feel alive,’ didn’t really correspond to what homer intended