Siege of the 'Iliad'
By Willis G. Regier
January 22, 2012
According to The Oxford Guide to Literature in English Translation, the Iliad is among the most translated works in English, and English has more versions than any other language.
In the depths of digital libraries lie dead Iliads. Who remembers the English translations of William Sotheby (1831), J. Henry Dart (1865), or Charles Bagot Cayley (1876)? And I doubt we will ever see another like The Iliad of Homer in the Spenserian stanza by Philip Stanhope Worsley and John Conington (1866-68). Samuel Butler's prose Iliad (1898) still gains praise, and T.E. Lawrence's Iliad (1932) has its following, while the couplets of Edgar Alfred Tibbetts (1907) and hexameters of George Ernle (1922) gather dust. For those that fall, new Iliads rush in.
Three Iliads have recently appeared. Stephen Mitchell's (Free Press) and Anthony Verity's (Oxford University Press) are new to the battle for market share. The late Richmond Lattimore's (University of Chicago Press) Iliad first stepped onto the field in 1951 and now returns with a storied shield and dazzling armor, provided by Richard P. Martin of Stanford University: a longer, stronger, updated introduction and a vastly improved set of notes.
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