Best translations of the claasics

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Best translations of the claasics

1ORFisHome
Jun. 18, 2007, 1:33pm

I'll admit that I'm not big on the classics, especially plays. However, in order to be more well-read, I've decided to tackle some classic literature. I prefer unabridged versions but don't want to get so completely bogged down that I give up after a few pages. Can some of you recommend what you have found to be the best translations of the major works of the following authors?

Aristotle
Herodotus
Homer
Plato

2Autodafe
Jun. 18, 2007, 4:56pm

Penguin Classics.

3donandpatti
Bearbeitet: Jun. 18, 2007, 5:18pm

For Homer, Robert Fagles (The Iliad and The Odyssey).

4donandpatti
Jun. 18, 2007, 5:17pm

For Plato (The Republic) Allan Bloom

5donandpatti
Bearbeitet: Jun. 18, 2007, 5:33pm

For Herodotus (The Histories) David Grene

Also, you didn't specifically list Thucydides, but you did caption your inquiry, Ancient "History", so I would add The Peloponnesian War and recommend the Landmark Edition edited by Victor Davis Hanson which corrects errors in the Crawley translation.

6donandpatti
Jun. 18, 2007, 5:23pm

For Aristotle (Physics, Metaphysics, Nicomachean Ethics) Joe Sachs

7ORFisHome
Jun. 19, 2007, 10:31am

I have Thucydides on my to-be-read list, but I didn't want to list a dozen different authors in my posting. I really appreciate the recommendation on that one, donandpatti.

8thecardiffgiant
Jun. 19, 2007, 1:28pm

Victor Davis Hanson did not edit the Landmark Thucydides. The book was undertaken solely by Robert B. Strassler, a retired businessman turned independent scholar. Victor Davis Hanson merely wrote the introduction.

The Landmark Thucydides was such a brilliant concept and so well done that Strassler has continued the series.

The Landmark Herodotus is due out this year, the Landmark Xenophon, and the Landmark Arrian are both scheduled for release for this year but can not yet be pre-ordered, and the Landmark Polybius is due in 2009.

I think he may have done the Herodotus himself but hired classicists to edit Xenophone, Arrian, and Polybius. I don't recall exactly.

The Landmark Thucydides is filled with excellent notes and maps, and is also valuable for the appendices written by good scholars (e.g., Alan Boegehold and William F. Wyatt).

However, I would recommend reading the essay 'Joseph Epstein's Lifetime Reading Plan' (found in Once More Around the Block: familiar essays).

9donandpatti
Jun. 19, 2007, 5:30pm

Thanks for the correction and the update.

10derekwalker
Jun. 19, 2007, 5:46pm

I will put a vote back in the Penguin Classics camp for Herodotus - Aubrey de Selincourt's translation, as revised by John Marincola, is the most readable and least-likely-to-bog-you-down of all the translations available.

I feel the same way about Fagles' Homers. However, some like Stan Lombardo; his language is certainly more modernized, sometimes perhaps anachronistically.

Allan Bloom's Republic of Plato is an uncompromising version, useful for really coming to grips with Plato/Socrates and their ideas without learning Greek first. This means it might not be the best thing to tackle first if you just want to get the shape of the dialogue. As for alternatives, I have not seen the recent Cambridge University Press translation by Tom Griffith, but it is advertised that it "reads like genuine conversation," something that Bloom's doesn't really do.

Aristotle...I'm afraid I can't help you there.

11Corinne
Jun. 19, 2007, 7:16pm

I also like Fagles' translations of The Odyssey and The Iliad. I don't like Samuel Butler's prose translation of The Iliad - if the original is a poem, then the translation should be a poem.

For Herodotus' Histories, I like the Oxford World's Classics edition, translated by Robin Waterfield. I've translated parts of The Histories from the Greek and from what I remember, Waterfield does a good job staying true to the original.

OWC also publishes Waterfield's translation of Plato's Symposium, which I enjoyed reading.

12jmnlman
Jun. 19, 2007, 8:09pm

Penguins tendency to abridge always irritated me. Yes I realize there aiming for a general audience but still annoying.

13thecardiffgiant
Jun. 20, 2007, 2:10pm

My favorite translation of Herodotus is found in a beautiful two volume edition from the Heritage Press. Harry Carter's rendering is readable and accurate throughout.

14gautherbelle
Jun. 22, 2007, 12:04pm

Can someone recommend a book (bio) of King Leonidas, if such a book exists.

Thank you.
Belle

15kahudson
Jun. 22, 2007, 11:01pm

As recommended to me by an intellectual history professor,

Herodotus - Grene translation
Plato - Allan Bloom
Aristotle - Lord for Politics and Ross, Crisp or Ostwald for Nicomachean Ethics. The copy I kept is the Ostwald version.

I have the Fagles translations for the Odyssey and Illiad, but earlier read different translations.

16thecardiffgiant
Jun. 22, 2007, 11:03pm

I know of no Life of Leonidas, though Plutarch apparently intended to write one. In his work on the malice of Herodotus (conventionally given the Latin name De malignitate Herodoti), he says that certain things neglected by that historian will be written in the Life of Leonidas.

ὅσα δ’ ἄλλα πρὸς τούτῳ τολμήματα καὶ ῥήματα τῶν Σπαρτιατῶν παραλέλοιπεν, ἐν τῷ Λεωνίδου βίῳ γραφήσεται·

Specifically Plutarch has just accused Herodotus of obscuring or dimming 'the greatest act' of Leonidas. Rather than dying in the pass, Leonidas led his men right up to Xerxes' tent and, finding him absent, sought him throughout the enemy camp, killing everyone in their path. In a difficult struggle they were killed by the swarming Persians, pouring in on all sides.

The best you can do is to read the entry in the Oxford Classical Dictionary and then the relevant sections of Plutarch mentioned here, as well as Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus.

There are no other significant ancient sources on a life, and anything modern would necessarily draw upon these, and these would, of course, be better than something like Leonidas: Hero of Thermopylae, which is a children's book.

17Pharisienlibere Erste Nachricht
Bearbeitet: Jun. 27, 2007, 9:47am

Hi,

As I'm not English mother tongue, I suggest for Eschyle the translations given by the Publisher Les Belles Lettres, textes grecs. This Publisher is well known in the Universities and specialized since 1920 in classicals, under the name "La Budé", latins, textes médiévaux.

Since end of 2006, they have a pocket collection. It may give an interesting opposition to the useful "Garnier Flammarion" most popular in highschools.

18thecardiffgiant
Jun. 26, 2007, 12:43pm

If you read French then the Budé editions are excellent. They're similar to Loebs (bilingual) but generally of higher quality and cover more obscure texts.

19philosojerk
Jun. 26, 2007, 6:22pm

allan bloom is considered by many to be a fine translator of plato, however if you're willing to spend the money, i'd highly recommend this edition of his complete works:

http://www.amazon.com/Plato-Complete-Works/dp/0872203492

(sorry for the amazon link - on LT it's combined with every other "complete works" out there).

most of the major dialogues are translated by either grube or reeve (both very well respected), however several translators were commissioned specifically for this edition, and it is a collection that is widely used in the philosophical community.

best of luck :)

20Pharisienlibere
Jun. 27, 2007, 9:49am

:-)) Indeed, I'm French mother tongue. That's the reason i was pushing French translations for school and university.

21Beauregard
Sept. 25, 2007, 10:03am

Most of my books of the classics were carried up to the attic when I moved here, and heaven knows when I will get up there to catalogue them, but I always preferred the Loeb editions so I could check as I went along. Helps keep one's language active too.

22gilgalad
Sept. 29, 2007, 4:38pm


I agree about #11 about the Herodotus. Waterfield does a good job rendering a lively and yet close translation.

23lara_aine
Nov. 17, 2007, 5:06am

Although I have the Fagles translations, i much prefer the Richmond Lattimore translations of the Iliad and Odyssey. I find them a much more enjoyable read.

24MarcusBrutus
Jan. 2, 2008, 12:51pm

Another author you didn't mention was Plutarch. However, I feel that he's worth mentioning, especially the John Dryden translation of Plutarch's Lives.

25Garp83
Jan. 2, 2008, 6:41pm

I prefer the Butler translation precisely because it is not a poem. It is impossible to take ancient Greek dactylic hexameter and turn it into English verse, and all of the other translations I attempted of the Iliad got bogged down in just that fashion. Butler, on the other hand, by the very act of eschewing the poetic approach captures the essential Homer and brings this wonderful ancient gem to life IMHO

26izzymcm Erste Nachricht
Jan. 8, 2008, 3:03pm

I would suggest Steven Lattimore's translation of The Peloponnesian War. His translation is excellent and his notes are worth the price of the book on their own.

27jfclark
Jan. 8, 2008, 3:38pm

For Thucydides, I'm actually currently reading Thomas Hobbes' 17th-century translation. I'm a sucker for 17th century prose, and the Hobbes is characteristically limpid and beautiful. Highly recommended, in the University of Chicago Press paperback; the drawback is that it's not closely annotated. For reference I also have The Landmark Thucydides.

28RainMan
Jan. 12, 2008, 12:42pm

As to Homer, IMO R. Lattimore evokes the tone of the Iliad quite wonderfully, while Fagles conveys the movement and humor and personality of the Odyssey quite amazingly well.

29alcottacre
Jan. 13, 2008, 11:51pm

What is the best translation for Thucydides if you cannot get your hands on the Landmark Thucydides? My local library does not have it.

30poulsbolibraryguy
Jan. 14, 2008, 6:10pm

I gotta say, jfclark, you're a better reader than I. Tried the Hobbes, couldn't make it. Now I'm banging my head against the Richard Crawley translation (I love Dover books so I impulse-bought it), with maps and assist from the Landmark Thucydides.
alcottare, I don't know what library system you're with, but the system I work for encourages you to request that we either purchase the book or get it through InterLibrary Loan. Just a thought.

31Garp83
Jan. 14, 2008, 10:03pm

I read ther Lateimere translation of Thucydides and liked it. I didn't find out about the Landmark Thucydides until after I read Lateimere

32alcottacre
Jan. 15, 2008, 1:26pm

My local library only has 2 translations of Thucydides - the Crawley translation and the Jowett translation. Is one better than the other? They do not have the Lateimere translation.

33stnylan
Jan. 16, 2008, 5:00pm

The nice thing about the various Penguin translations is that they tend to be a solid bedrock.

I'll add my voice to the appreciation of the Fagles translations of Homer, but I first grew to love Homer from the Penguin versions.

34blackbelt42
Feb. 12, 2008, 12:07am

The Spartans were very secretive about their society, hence the paucity of information on Leonidas. I think your best bet will be Donald Kagan's uber-version of his History of the Pelopponesian War - I believe it is a four volume set. He explores what information we have available on Sparta in his History, but if there is anything additional it will certainly be included in that larger work.

35poulsbolibraryguy
Feb. 22, 2008, 8:25pm

There's an appendix covering the Spartans by Paul Cartledge in the back of the wonderfully readable Landmark Herotodus that just came out. I'm approaching Book 5, it's overdue at my library, I can't renew it, and I'm just gonna take the overdue fines. Then I'm gonna buy the book.
Also, Donald Kagan's 4 volume history is a real treat. And try Cartledge's Spartan Reflections and The Spartans.

36readabook1381
Mai 15, 2008, 1:18pm

I highly recommend the Barnes and Nobles Classices editions of Thucydides and Herodotus. My professor, Donald Lateiner, from Ohio Wesleyan is the editor and wrote the notes and introductions to them. He is a genius! I learned so much in his classes and he writes in a very eloquent yet comprehensible prose. Plus, anything to support my prof!

37Garp83
Mai 15, 2008, 5:13pm

I read the Barnes & Noble Thucydides & loved it, although I have nothing to compare it to. I do wish I had known about the Landmark Thucydides though at the time because I have heard that is superior to all the others.

38Sandydog1
Mai 29, 2008, 10:25pm

>13 thecardiffgiant: and 15, Thanks for your suggestions on Herodotus. I have the Heritage volumes and my library has the Grene translation. I walked away from The Histories and am definitely planning to resume reading it soon.

39Sorenna
Jun. 25, 2008, 11:27am

Iliad: Fitzgerald translation
Herodotus: Oxford Classics
Thucydides- love the landmark.

I hear there is now a Landmark Herodotus :-)

Love Herodotus!

40DaynaRT
Jun. 25, 2008, 11:30am

I recently received the Landmark Herodotus from BookMooch. It's a beautiful book. I fell in love with it after a recent trip to Barnes & Noble. I only put it on my BookMooch wishlist on a whim; I never though I'd ever get it without purchasing it myself.

41criels
Bearbeitet: Jul. 26, 2008, 1:32pm

I am not by any means acquainted with all the Penguin translations of classical works, but I can't remember seeing any that were abridged. Which works did you have in mind?

42jmnlman
Jul. 26, 2008, 1:57pm

Off the top of my head Ammianus Marcellinus and the Enneads are abridged. I'm pretty sure there are others but I'd have to look them up.

43criels
Bearbeitet: Jul. 28, 2008, 2:36pm

Thank you for noting that. When we recommend translations of classical works to others, we should make them aware that the Penguin series (as well as countless others) sometimes abridges a text that is too long to publish under one cover (and, in some cases, that only the most dedicated readers would ever read in full). Plotinus, e.g., is indeed such a case.

44Rood
Jul. 29, 2008, 11:23pm

Well now, the near universal praise for Alan Bloom's translations of Plato suggests that I should tackle Plato, again. I began, fairly young, with the Jowett translation, but then attended a lecture by C. A. Tripp in 1955, while he was on a book tour, during which he assailed translations of Plato into English, as "all have been censored of much if not most of their homosexual content."

Tripp continued to explain why these translations are not worthy of being read, saying, in his book The Homosexual Matrix, (ISBN 0-07-065201-5):

"And since the Greeks wove personal and sexual relations into the very fabric of government, these expurgations have altered the political and philosophical views of Plato very considerably. His poetic and ethical works have been distorted still further. In the prestigious Jowett translation, for example, both the Symposium and Lysis have been garbled almost beyond recognition."

Tripp explained that the Kinsey Institute had contracted for accurate translations of all of these classical works, but that modern censorship consigned all of them behind locked doors.

My question: Is the Alan Bloom translation fair and accurate? Or does it whitewash and distort the Greek original, as did Jowett's edition.

Rood

45criels
Bearbeitet: Jul. 31, 2008, 12:05pm

Rood:

That is an interesting question. I can attest that to anyone who has read Plato--or any other good Greek author--in both Greek and translation, the difference is manifest.
But I had never thought about this problem as one of suppressing homosexual implications. Nor do I recall ever thinking that every, or almost every, passage in Plato was strongly and inextricably connected with homosexuality (not that I couldn't have missed it). I would, however, certainly note that all classical texts and translations from the '50s and before (and sometimes after) certainly were rendered far more "polite" than their originals. In some cases, there was stark, outright bowdlerization of offending texts. Here is an example that I cite simply because I (like everyone else who has encountered it) remember it well: C. J. Fordyce introduced his edition of the Latin text of Catullus (1961) with the notice that "a few poems which do not lend themselves to comment in English have been omitted." Thus, he has gone to the trouble to edit and provide learned commentary on all but a few poems that he feels it necessary to exclude. Every teacher of Latin knows which poems those are, and why he felt it necessary to omit them. (In 1970, Kenneth Quinn published his own edition of all Catullus' poems for use in British secondary schools, and did comment on all of them in English. Now there is also at least one edition of the complete poems of Catullus for use in American high schools.)

Today's translators (and classical scholars in general) are far less prudish about sexual aspects of literature. Tripp was necessarily commenting on the practice of translating during and before his day, and there has been profound change since then. I wonder what he would say about some of today's translations. I'm not sure that many translators even now would see, and try to convey, a homosexual cast everywhere Tripp apparently would; but I do not think that prudishness would be the reason for the disagreement.

Thus, I can say two things with a fairly high degree of confidence. First, there will always be an impenetrable barrier between Plato and a Greekless reader. The only remedy for that is to learn Greek, which is an endeavor of years. Second, you should not have to worry about expurgation of sexual implications in translations of the past 15 or so years. I hope that some of this helps.

Chris R.

46wildbill
Sept. 12, 2008, 9:31pm

I read The Landmark Herodotus earlier this year. I have no knowledge of ancient Greek and so have no opinion of the accuracy of the translation. I did enjoy the book. It has 127 maps and the authority for all of the maps is The Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World. The maps are used very well with locator maps and insets and were invaluable to me. The appendices are over 100 pages of essays from different scholars that cover Herodotus treatment of different subjects. I am no scholar of the classics and all of these additions made the book more accessible for me. Herodotus wrote a very inclusive history. At its worst it sometimes degenerated to the level of gossip, but at its best it was a multi-disciplinary portrayal of the world of his time. The editor makes this point in the introduction when he rates Herodotus as a greater historian than Thucydides.
I found a website for the Barrington Atlas at http://www.unc.edu/depts/cl_atlas/index.html. It is a beautiful book and now I must save enough to afford it.

47Redsfan
Sept. 13, 2008, 9:48pm

Dear Beauregard, Did you ever hear the story about the classical scholar Peter D. Arnott? His students reported that he admitted one day in class that when he was a boy and became interested in Greek plays his book explained that they were called "Attic Plays". He duly took them up to his attic and that was where he got his start. You could do that too!

48Nicole_VanK
Sept. 14, 2008, 4:42am

Most of the Penguin Classics editions are pretty good. I'm also fond of the Loeb Classical Library series (published by Harvard UP & William Heinemann, London) which have the added advantage of printing original and translation side by side.

49Taiji
Sept. 26, 2008, 12:49am

Thanks for the feedback on Fagles' translation of the Odyssesy and The Illiad, as I just purchased them.

50nathanieljc
Sept. 28, 2008, 8:28pm

The Lattimore translations of the Iliad and the Odyssey are, by far, the best. He tries to work in the hexameter (isometric) of the original ancient Greek, and he's much closer to the actual diction too. It's more difficult to read than the Fagles, but ultimately more rewarding with its wonderful words. Fagles oversimplifies. Fagles translations also have more lines than the original Greek text. If you're looking at 764 in the ancient or Lattimore then you'll be closer to 970 in the Fagles. I will say that the Fagles editions are wonderfully bound with great paper.

Joseph Sachs' translations of Aristotle are quite good. He's attempting to be as literal as possible, so he uses the compound word structure of the original Greek (being-at-work-staying-itself) which makes reading it sometimes frustrating but overall it helps. Aristotle defines himself constantly so it all starts to make sense. As a side note, many say take Sach's side notes with a critical eye.

I tried to read the Apostle translation of Aristotle's Physics and it was frustrating. Although it's nice to know what people read for the majority of history.

Allan Bloom's attempted to create the most literal translation of the Republic. Most people I know say you shouldn't read anything else. I found it wonderful. To above member Rood, Allan Bloom in no way glosses the pederasty of things, but in the Republic it's not a huge component. Bloom was himself publically revealed to be a homosexual after his death, and likely died of complications from HIV/AIDS.

Above the member criels mentioned homosexuality in the ancient Greeks, but I suggest taking that modern word with its connotations with some hesitancy. Pederasty is far from being cut and dry homosexuality. For the best treatment on the topic read Stanley Rosen's Symposium.

Grene and Lattimore translations of Aristophanes, Euripides, Sophocles are the way to go. The West translations are good too.

Agora editions and Focus Philosophical Library editions are consistently good. You can generally trust University of Chicago as well, for example Seth Bernadete's translation of Plato's Symposium is excellent.

Loeb translations (as a whole) are horrible. It's nice with the original language on the side but really you shouldn't use the translation except as very basic reference when reading the original.

I suggest against buying any of the complete works of anyone. Translations are frequently sub-par in those monstrosities. They're very inconsistent as well.

51criels
Bearbeitet: Nov. 5, 2008, 8:25pm

"Above the member criels mentioned homosexuality in the ancient Greeks, but I suggest taking that modern word with its connotations with some hesitancy. Pederasty is far from being cut and dry homosexuality."

Of course this is so, and I neglected to make that clear. I didn't stop to correct the popular belief that "the Greeks were homosexuals" in the modern sense. The reason I failed to do so was that the main concern was bowdlerization of translations to obscure anything that could even be called "homosexual." What I was specifically replying to was basically this quotation, and its citation from Tripp, cited in #44:

"I began, fairly young, with the Jowett translation, but then attended a lecture by C. A. Tripp in 1955, while he was on a book tour, during which he assailed translations of Plato into English, as 'all have been censored of much if not most of their homosexual content.'

"Tripp continued to explain why these translations are not worthy of being read, saying, in his book The Homosexual Matrix, (ISBN 0-07-065201-5):"
'And since the Greeks wove personal and sexual relations into the very fabric of government, these expurgations have altered the political and philosophical views of Plato very considerably. His poetic and ethical works have been distorted still further. In the prestigious Jowett translation, for example, both the Symposium and Lysis have been garbled almost beyond recognition.'"

So Tripp's mission was to persuade users of translations produced in the mid-20th century or earlier that they were reading texts that suppressed (or excised) anything that had any constituent aspect of public's understanding of "homosexuality." In my reply, I focused on the question about bowdlerization, not the nature of "Greek homosexuality." The points I meant to make were 1) that such suppression of "improper" content as Tripp was decrying is no longer the problem it was 60 or so years ago, and 2) that it seemed to me that Tripp might have been finding "homosexuality" in places that have no evident connection to sex.

Of course, the point you make about the inappropriateness of the word "homosexuality," at least as we use the term, is important for a proper understanding of Greek attitudes and practices. We classical types know that, and the general public doesn't: I just didn't want to complicate the issue about the bowdlerization.

52ElenaGwynne
Dez. 11, 2008, 2:53pm

I've got to throw in my votes for the Penguin versions and also for the Oxford World Classics translations for both Herodotus and Thucydides. I've had teachers requiring both translations over the years.

I also have enjoyed reading both the Fitzgerald and the Fagles for the Odyssey, Iliad and Aeneid.

I recently made the discovery of the Landmark Thucydides and Herodotus (too late to use them for studying for finals), but am holding off on buying them for now ($50 for each book is a bit too steep for my tastes). I'm sure I'll break down and get them, especially as the store I work at has them sitting on the shelves, nice and tempting.

53ThePam
Bearbeitet: Dez. 11, 2008, 8:57pm

With my usual inability to stay on topic, I would like to add that in the last book I read... Sparta (howse that for an original title) edited by Michael Whitby
... that one of the authors wrote that on their wedding night, the young women had their heads shaved and were taken to a room where they were dressed in male clothing and left in a bed for their husbands to find.

I thought it rather an exotic practice.
And while the author went with the rather obvious implication, I came to a different conclusion.

In any case, does anyone know of any other books, articles, exposé on the topic of ancient Greek weddings.

54Rood
Dez. 11, 2008, 10:18pm

Chris R:

It might help to understand that back in the 1950's C.A. Tripp was an associate of Alfred Kinsey. As such, he had access to the vast collection of classics for which the Kinsey Institute contracted new translations ( by professors from The University of Indiana).

Three examples which Tripp printed in his book are as follows:

Where Plato actually said:

There is dishonor in sexually gratifying a worthless man or in doing so viciously, but there is honor in sexually gratifying a good man in an honorable manner.

The Jowett translation says:

There is dishonor in yielding to the evil, or in an evil manner; but there is honor in yielding to the good, or in an honourable manner.

Where Plato actually said:

He who grants sexual favours to his male lover in the hope that he will be improved through the friendship shows himself to be virtuous, even though his lover proves to be a villain and to have no virtue.

The Jowell translation says:

He who lives for the sake of virtue, and in the hope that he will be improved by his lover's company, shows himself to be virtuous, even though the object of his affection be proved to be a villain, and to have no virtue.

Where Plato actually said:

As Pausanias says, It is honourable for a man to grant sexual favours to the good among men and shamefull for him to grant them to the unbridled.

The Jowell translation says:

As Pausanias says, The good are to be accepted, and the bad are not to be accepted.

I should like to know if any of these new translations contain these "improper" translations.

55Garp83
Dez. 14, 2008, 11:19am

RE #53 above Pam: This is not exactly on topic with your wedding question, but I found a marvelous little book at a used book store this summer that I had never heard of: Courtesans & Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens by James Davidson -- a book devoted to the eating, drinking and sexual habits of the ancient Athenians. Much of it reveals aspects of the status of women in the 5th and the 4th century I had never encountered in traditional treatments of the culture. It's a nighstands book, so I'm only a third of the way through, but I recommend it.

56ThePam
Dez. 14, 2008, 6:49pm

Ooooh. Believe it or not my library has this. Perfect Christmas reading.

Thank you Garp!

57Garp83
Dez. 15, 2008, 5:39am

that's cool -- great libraries collect alike ...

58dstewart41
Aug. 30, 2009, 3:58am

I've not been able to enjoy Homer other than Robert Fitzgerald.
For Thucydides, I prefer Richard Crawley purely for language.

59ericsbooks
Nov. 1, 2009, 5:17pm

Well Bloom attacks Kinsey in his last book "Love and Friendship", but was also reported to be a homosexual. Bloom has little trouble talking about eros. His aformentioned book tries to rescue it from social science, Freud, and other postmodern influences by a close study of of Romantic literature, Shakespeare, and Plato. His translation of the Republic is literal and doesn't gloss over anything.

In general "Straussian" translations of Plato are very good, e.g., Bloom, Pangle, James Nichols, Carnes Lord, Bolotin. They are usually published by Agora (Cornell) or Chicago. In the last few years Joe Sachs has been translating many of the same works as these guys and has proved to be just as faithful to the texts. Most of Sachs translations are part of the Focus Philosophical Library, which is, as a whole, very good.

For Greek poetry I like Greene and Lattimore and for Herodotus Greene. For Thucydides I like the Hobbes translation.

I never studied Latin and can't really comment on translations, so I usually go with the Penguin for stuff like Livy, Caesar, etc.

60Garp83
Nov. 1, 2009, 6:46pm

I am hoping that someone like Fagles decides to do Plutarch. The only translations are awful out-of-synch old stuff -- we need an update!

61Feicht
Nov. 1, 2009, 11:32pm

I have to say, the more practice I get with Greek and Latin, the less I like the Loeb versions of things. I still think it's awesome that you get two books in one, with the Latin/Greek on the left and "English" on the right.... but I'm finding it increasingly annoying that the translators seem to translate the text into artificially archaic English just for the hell of it. For instance, I'm translating Vergil's Aeneid right now, and it's annoying trying to check my translation against the Loeb version, because it just ends up being confusing. Instead of just giving a straight up translation, they have to jumble it all up into a heap of bastardized Victorian and Shakespearean English.

But then, I'm picky :-D

62shikari
Bearbeitet: Apr. 11, 2010, 3:29pm

#54: Rood:

Of course, Plato doesn't say quite what Tripp says he says. The word 'sexual' is an interpolation that doesn't exist in the Greek, though it is an implied possibility (the word is charísasthai, 'to gratify or please', so 'grant favours' is correct). Tripp's translation is therefore, I think, misleadingly direct.

63shikari
Bearbeitet: Apr. 11, 2010, 4:22pm

#61 Feicht:
Sure, the translations are often old. The mistake is ever buying a Loeb translation as a Loeb translation rather than buying it as, say, Seaton's translation of Apollonius or Race's translation of the same author. For me, the oldest Loeb Aristophanes translation, that of B. B. Rogers, is among the best around. Okay, it's a bit elusive when it comes to sexual terms, but it better conveys the spirit of Aristophanes than any number of dull modern prose translations. Admittedly I don't have it in the Loeb edition but his earlier edition with commentary.

As for the use of poetic or archaic language, it is only a nineteenth century convention (a modern convention at the time) and surely it is nothing to get upset about. Indeed, it seems to me to be most appropriate for Apollonius or others writing in Epic dialect; to a lesser extent this is true also of almost any post-Classical Greek or Latin author, all of whom adhere closely to conservative linguistic forms. A modern idiomatic translation of Arrian, for example, is arguably stylistically strongly misleading; no less so, a translation of Thucydides that breaks the author's laboured structures down into bite-sized English sentences. Better to read Thomas Hobbes' rhetorical English translation - if what you want is an idea of the original. Of course, as you yourself can increasingly understand the Greek or Latin, perhaps you no longer need something that reflects the style of the original?

64Feicht
Apr. 11, 2010, 4:55pm

Well I've since used the Loeb Odyssey for the same purpose and I have to say I found that one much better. It definitely kept a lot of the intricacies of the original, moreso than the Vergil one did. I get what you're saying about the inflated dialect though, that's a good point; Vergil would have been writing in what might have sounded to his audience like what Victorian English sounds to us, so it makes sense on some level to translate it that way I suppose.

65shikari
Apr. 11, 2010, 5:07pm

I was wondering about Vergil and the Augustine poets. You probably have better Latin than me, so I'd be interested in your considered opinion about that.

66Feicht
Apr. 11, 2010, 8:43pm

Well I wouldn't go that far; I still consider myself kind of a beginner ;-) I will say though that you can definitely "feel" the difference between guys writing in a really formulaic style as Vergil did, and guys scribbling insults on the back of napkins like Martial!

I quite enjoyed Vergil though, I have to say. Homer is obviously better, and I mean to be fair, he was sort of the litmus test for writers for the rest of antiquity. But that doesn't mean Vergil couldn't tell a good story, that's for damn sure. I'm not a huge fan of literary criticism in general, but like I say, the more of him the read the more you really get a hang of the cool way he strings stuff together. And after reading Ovid, you'll probably look longingly back to Vergil, wishing for better days :-D

67rolandperkins
Apr. 11, 2010, 8:54pm

A translator of Vergilʻs Aeneid named Ahl was recommended to me by a classics major, a classmate who is now in the field of Comparative Literature, but I havenʻt found it in the Public Library system here -- nor in LT. Iʻll probably find it in the University and look it over.

I donʻt know of any really good translation of Horaceʻs Odes; they have been tried by many poets great and small; most of the tanslaitons are "not bad". For Propertius -- disgruntled love poetry of the same era, there is Ezra Pound, who certainly did know the original well, and others.
For the Aeneid, Iʻm not very familiar with Rolfe Humphries or Robert Fitzgerald. But both are highly regarded. Iʻm a fan of John Drydenʻs Aeneid and also of his Juvenal and Persius. But he isnʻt quite in the spirit of Vergil -- more doing a pretty good English poem in his own right.

There is a curious Catullus translation by Louis Zukofsky -- but itʻll tell you more about Zukofsky than about Catullus. L.Z.ʻs theory of translation was to "translate" the sound primarily and the sense only secondarily.* He did the same thing with the Biblical Psalms -- how well, I donʻt know enough Hebrew to evaluate.

For more conventional Catullus translations, more have tried Catullus even than Horace, with about the same success.

* Example: "quid voluit fecit"(Catullus 74,
line 5) --literally "what he willed, he accomplished" -- is "translated" as "Quite a WILL, that fey kid!". That the subject is (comparatively) a "kid" has to be deduced from elsewhere in the poem; that he is "fey" is just
Zukofskyʻs personal interpretation.

68rolandperkins
Bearbeitet: Apr. 24, 2014, 11:30pm

A translator of Vergilʻs Aeneid named Ahl was recommended to me by a classics major, a classmate who is now in the field of Comparative Literature,# but I havenʻt found it in the Public Library system here -- nor in LT. Iʻll probably find it in the University and look it over.

I donʻt know of any really good translation of Horaceʻs Odes; they have been tried by many poets great and small; most of the tanslaitons are "not bad". For Propertius -- disgruntled love poetry of the same era, there is Ezra Pound, who certainly did know the original well, and others.
For the Aeneid, Iʻm not very familiar with Rolfe Humphries or Robert Fitzgerald. But both are highly regarded. Iʻm a fan of John Drydenʻs Aeneid and also of his Juvenal and Persius. But he isnʻt quite in the spirit of Vergil -- more doing a pretty good English poem in his own right.

There is a curious Catullus translation by Louis Zukofsky -- but itʻll tell you more about Zukofsky than about Catullus. L.Z.ʻs theory of translation was to "translate" the sound primarily and the sense only secondarily.* He did the same thing with the Biblical Psalms -- how well, I donʻt know enough Hebrew to evaluate.

For more conventional Catullus translations, more have tried Catullus even than Horace, with about the same success.

# Joseph Dallett

* Example: "quod voluit fecit"(Catullus 74,
line 5) --literally "what he willed, he accomplished" -- is "translated" as "Quite a WILL, that fey kid!". That the subject is (comparatively) a "kid" has to be deduced from elsewhere in the poem; that he is "fey" is just
Zukofskyʻs personal interpretation.

69shikari
Bearbeitet: Apr. 11, 2010, 10:29pm

Frederick Ahl's translation is the new Oxford University Press one. There's an affordable hardback edition and a new Oxford World's Classics paperback. The h/b seems to be out of print in the UK but is still available in the States (ISBN 0192832069 if you want to track it down). I think it's a very good translation, a prose-poetry verse translation that manages (as well as it can be done) to correspond line-for-line with Vergil.

Feicht. I think I know what you mean about Homer being 'better' - he seems more natural and is much more in tune with our times. But I think Vergil is the greater poet. The Aeneid was an astonishing feat, and has just as directly inspired similar astonishing works (La Divina Commedia, Paradise Lost), just as Homer inspired Vergil.

70rolandperkins
Apr. 11, 2010, 10:29pm

To Shikari:

Thanks, Shikari; Iʻll look up Frederick Ahl (I didnʻt even know his first name,)

--even though I usually prefer prose to a verse translation that tries to "correspond line for line".

71rolandperkins
Apr. 11, 2010, 10:29pm

To Shikari:

Thanks, Shikari; Iʻll look up Frederick Ahl (I didnʻt even know his first name,)

--even though I usually prefer prose to a verse translation that tries to "correspond line for line".

72shikari
Bearbeitet: Apr. 11, 2010, 10:47pm

You might enjoy the two excerpts read out on OUP's american site under the hard-back edition. I don't know whether the author himself is reading.

http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/ClassicalStudies/ClassicalLiteratu...

Oh, here's a review:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2007/nov/17/poetry.virgil

73rolandperkins
Apr. 12, 2010, 3:35am

To Shikari:

Thanks, from the review, Ahl sounds worth
reading all the way through. I donʻt object to most of the borderline colloquialisms that the reviewer cites.

74jenknox
Apr. 19, 2010, 2:20am

A good website to find translations is the Perseus Project ( http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/ ) They have the original plus translations into several languages. It saved my life at university!

75AlmostMelchior
Apr. 24, 2014, 10:06pm

For goodness sake not Bloom! Jowett's third edition of Plato (1892) is where to start.

76jsimonharris
Jan. 17, 2017, 2:43pm

For Homer, I am a big fan of Robert Fagles' translations of both the Iliad and the Odyssey. He sometimes takes liberties (adding lines, changing or omitting epithets, etc.), but the flow and strength of his verse far outweigh any downsides. Fagles also has a version of Virgil's Aeneid which is quite good, if you decide to move on to Roman literature. Richmond Lattimore is a more accurate translator of Homer, if that's what you're looking for. I should also mention Alexander Pope's translation of the Iliad, which is a work of art in itself, if you don't mind the older style of writing (he translates Homer, very freely, into rhyming heroic couplets). I am even working on a version of the Iliad that preserves the meter of the Greek, if you are interested (www.jsimonharris.com).

In my opinion, the translator matters less for Plato, Aristotle and Herodotus, because they write in prose. Even so, may you'll just want to read the first few pages of a few different translators, and see who you like the best. I have a version of Plato's Republic translated by Allan Bloom, and I like it quite a bit. You're on your own for the rest.

I also urge you to reconsider your position on the plays, particularly the Greek tragedies. Admittedly, there are a number of junk translations of the tragedies out there; but if you find good versions, many of the plays are really good. The same translator I recommended above, Robert Fagles, has translations of Aeschylus and Sophocles that are well worth reading. And if you like those, you can decide whether you want to read more.

77SF-72
Jun. 16, 6:37am

This thread hasn't been active in a while, but it fits my topic, so I thought I'd best ask my questions here:

Can anyone recommend well-translated and annotated editions of ancient Greek plays in English? From my limited experience - teaching Antigone in German quite a while ago - I really need annotations to be able to fully understand the texts because I don't have that much classical background knowledge. And a good translation is essential, of course.

As for translations: Do you know of websites with samples, an article comparing them or something of the sort where one can take a look at some translations? This morning I went looking for translations of Aristophanes, but those on amazon had long forewords, so the samples broke off before the actual translations, unfortunately a common problem.

Any help is appreciated. I actually have the Complete Tragedies in the Folio Society editions, but unfortunately they didn't print any annotations, so that's less than ideal. It might be fun to read these after having more experience and a better background knowledge. And I don't have any comedies yet, so that would definitely be starting from scratch.

78shikari
Bearbeitet: Jun. 19, 3:56pm

You'll probably find what you're looking for in the Aris and Philips series, tho' only Alan Sommerstein's Aristophanes come straight to mind as examples. They have Greek text, English translation and commentary.

79SF-72
Jun. 20, 6:04am

>78 shikari:

Thank you for your help with my question. I appreciate it.

80shikari
Bearbeitet: Jul. 13, 9:58am

>79 SF-72: May I suggest a couple of other books too. Oliver Taplin's books on tragedy are excellent, and indeed his Stagecraft in Aeschylus I found revolutionary – it completely transformed the plays from literary relics to working drama in my own imagination. It's pricey, though, and I can't remember how far Taplin translates the Greek (I used it Greekless, however). His Greek Tragedy in Action was (I think) required reading on my MA course.

For Aristophanes, Russo's Aristophanes, an Author for the Stage is good, but best as an overview is Kenneth Dover's Aristophanic Comedy. Read translations first (they'll be prosaic, probably, but I love B. B. Rogers' Victorian translations into Gilbertian verse, which remind one that they really are verse, not prose) before reading Dover. I'd not worry too much about commentary initially, as most plays gain from rereading with more knowlege, so leave the commentary for a second or third reading. I'm sure translations in Penguin and Oxford World Classics are excellent, and the current Loeb translations are good (the aforementioned B. B. Rogers was the first Loeb Aristophanes, tho' they're better read in Rogers' own editions, but the modern ones by Jeffrey Henderson are more up-to-date in scholarship, and – I think – complementary).