Homer Is Difficult

Lawrence of Arabia, writing as T.E. Shaw, on his difficulties in translating Homer
Jul 3, 2014

I see now why there are no adequate translations of Homer.  He is baffling.  Not simple, in education; not primitive, socially ... There's a queer naivety in every other line: and at our remove of thought and language we can't say if he's smiling or not ... I have tried to squeeze out all the juice in the orange; or what I thought was the juice.  I tried to take liberties with the Greek: but failed.  Homer compels respect.

I must confess he has beaten me to my knees.  Perhaps if I did much more I might be less faithful.  The work has been very difficult: though I'm in a Homeric sort of air; a mud-brick fort beset by the tribes of Waziristan, on a plain encircled by the hills of the Afghan border.  It reeks of Alexander the Great, our European forerunner who also loved Homer.

But, as I say, it has been difficult.

- From Barry Powell's Introduction to his translation of Homer's Iliad, pg. 1


Brian  Phillips

Brian Phillips

Dr. Brian Phillips is the Director of CiRCE Consulting & the Headmaster of the CiRCE Academy.  He also serves as a pastor in Concord, NC, where he lives with his wife and their four children.

The opinions and arguments of our contributing writers do not necessarily reflect those of the Institute or its leadership.

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