Friday, July 30, 2021

International database of Homer's Iliad translations

Homer's Iliad, the founding of the Western literary epic tradition has been translated throughout history by several authors into several languages. We aim to collate these translations in one accessible database through this webpage.


Translator: Tomislav Maretić

Year: 1881

This metrical translation of the Iliad by Tomislav Maretić is over a hundred years old however it is still used in schools. Maretić also translated works by Virgil and Ovid. In order to translate the Iliad metrically, Maretić actually developed an accentual hexameter, thus ensuring that his translation is as close to the original as possible both in language and tonality.


Translator: Doi Bansui

Year: 1940

The first translation of the Iliad into Japanese was attempted by Tatsusaburo Uchimura in 1910 who translated Books I-IV. The first complete Iliad was published in 1940. It was translated by the noted poet Doi Bansui (1871-1952). More precise, but possibly less poetic is the 1949 translation by Hidenaka Tanaka and Fumio Ochi.


Translator: Luo Niansheng / Wilson Wong

Year: 1994

There is more than one translation available of the Iliad into Chinese. However, the most celebrated one seems to be that started by Luo Niansheng and completed by Wilson Wong. Luo Niansheng also translated works by the Greek Tragedians. Unfortunately, he died mid-way through his translation on the Iliad, in 1990. Another famous translation is by Zhong Mei Chen.


Translator: Victor Xuereb

Year: 1999

The Jesuit Victor Xuereb was born in 1930. He studied Classics at Oxford and went on to teach Classics both in the United States and in Malta. As Dr Carmel Serracino explains in his Campus FM radio programme, Victor Xuereb’s translation is particularly excellent because of his excellent grasp of the Maltese language and his ability to convey characterisation via direct speech. Fr Victor Xuereb is one of the few (if not only) persons who translated all three of the major epics – The Iliad, the Odyssey and the Aeneid. He died in 2017.

Irish (Gaeilge)

Translator: John MacHale

Year: 1844

Archbishop of Tuam, John MacHale (1789-1881) was taught the Classics by French priests at St Patrick's College, Maynooth. He was known for his love of his native Irish tongue and often preached in Irish. For MacHale translating the Iliad was a "leisure interval from weighty duties". Unfortunately, leisure was in short supply and he only found the time to translate the first eight books.

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