What is a place that you love to return to? One of mine is Delphi. This photo of the Athenian treasury at Delphi is from my last visit in Feb. 2020. It feels like a fitting image for what I’m thinking about today: reception of Homer in classical Athens. Something I’ve been thinking about forContinue reading “Reception of Homer in Classical Athens”
“Any theoretical remarks offered by a translator are bound to be an apology for his failures. Obviously, no sane translator can allow himself to dream of success. He asks only for the best possible failure.” —John Ciardi, Translator’s note, The Divine Comedy As I have been working on rendering Homer in English, one of myContinue reading “More Thoughts on Translation and Odyssey 1.1-9”
About this time last year, several media outlets reported on six lines of Greek poetic verse dating to around the 2nd century AD. These lines were inscribed on a gemstone that was found in the sarcophagus of a young girl who was wearing it at the time of her entombment: Λεγουσιν | They sayα θελουσινContinue reading “Verse from a time of conquest”
What are your thoughts on Calypso? One of the passages I worked on recently was Calypso’s final speech to Odysseus. There’s something equal parts chilling and poignant about her. On the one hand, she is keeping Odysseus hostage. She offers him unending pleasure, ageless youth, eternity, but he does not want any of it. HeContinue reading “Homer’s Calypso”
The more time I spend translating Penelope’s speech and scenes, the more “heroic” she seems to become—possessing superhuman strength, pursuing fame, potentially being the recipient of cult honors. It makes me wonder what she meant to the historical women of archaic and classical Athens. Three potential clues might be 1) the existence of women cultContinue reading “A Penelopiad”
Did Achilles have a choice? In Iliad 9, Achilles famously reveals that two options are available to him: either he can remain in Troy, die in battle, and be immortalized, or he can return home and live a long but unremarkable life. The debate over whether he actually has control is one of those deliciousContinue reading “Ajax and Achilles”
I’ve had Edith Hamilton’s “The Greek Way” on my bookshelf for a few years. The first time I tried to read it, I was a bit put off by her East-West binary, which feels anachronistic and oversimplified. But the book will inevitably be a product of its time, as we all are, to some extent,Continue reading “Book review: “The Greek Way” by Edith Hamilton”
What happens to the gods in the age of empire? This week, I’ve been reading David Raeburn’s translation of Metamorphoses by Ovid, arguably the most influential ancient myth retelling on modern myth retellings. To clarify, I’m not challenging the view that, overall, Homer remains the most influential ancient poet. But as far as how mythologyContinue reading “Gods in the age of Empire”
Shall we talk about Helen of Sparta? This Roman relief, believed to be based on Greek models and dating anywhere from 100 BC- 100, depicts Aphrodite, Eros, and Peitho (goddess of Persuasion) overseeing the meeting between Helen and Paris. In both Greek and Roman mythologies, Helen’s birth follows sexual violence. In Ovid, she is bornContinue reading “Helen in Greek and Roman Mythologies”
Over the last month, I’ve been slow-reading Coleman Barks’ collection of Rumi’s verse about love. Also during this time (surely inspired by Barks), I’ve been challenging myself to translate favorite passages from Homer and render them into self-contained moments. Helen at her loom in Iliad 3. Odysseus’ encounter with Ino in Odyssey 5. Any sceneContinue reading “Reading poetry, translating poetry”
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