Translation and Homer's Iliad

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While reading the segment on Homer's Iliad in Writing Material: Readings from Plato to the Digital Age by Evelyn B. Tribble and Anne Trubek, I noticed many similarities between their ideas about translation/transliteration and ideas that we have been discussing about the Qur'an in the Islam: Religion and Culture course I am taking.  In that class, we talked a lot about how Muslims usually read the Qur'an in Arabic, the language in which it was originally written, and how there seems to be something missing when we read it in English as opposed to when we listen to and learn to recite parts of it in Arabic.  Tribble and Trubek point out the same thing by including two translations and an original version in Greek.  Just by reading (or at least attempting to read) these versions of Iliad, anyone can see that they have different tones and each would appeal to different people. 

For instance, Megan discussed in her blog that she found the Lattimore version easier to comprehend, while she saw the Fagles version as "choppy" and "abrupt." However, the Fagles version appealed to me much more because it seemed to flow more smoothly.  Yet, for someone who could read and understand ancient Greek, the original might be preferred.  It is so interesting that people can have such different opinions about versions of the same story.  One person could dislike a translated version of a story they are reading, but could truly enjoy another version.  I suppose this is just one downfall of reading translations.

In my Islam course, we also discussed how these downfalls of translation affected versions of other faith works, such as the Bible, and wondered if any translation can ever capture the true meaning, tone, and structure of the original.  Unfortunately, despite this downfall, translation is often necessary to keep the story or work alive.  It seems to me that the best, although mostly unrealistic, way of reading any work is to read and comprehend it in the language in which it was written in order to receive the fullest understanding and appreciation for the work.

 

Read what others have to say about Homer's Iliad.  

 

If you'd like to learn more about Islam, this is a reliable website that my professor, Dr. Leap, recommended.   

 

2 Comments

Megan Seigh said:

That is interesting that the different poems can affect people differently. I suppose it is a good thing to have different versions of readings like that because there are always going to be people who side with both parts of it. Like I said in my blog, perhaps the reason for my reading the second passage fast was because I had already read the other one first. Either way, all people are truly different when it comes to what parts of their brain work when comprehending something.

Jessie Krehlik said:

I preferred the Fagles translation as well. Unlike Megan, I didn't really see the sentences as short and choppy. I actually thought this version flowed a lot more. As soon as I read the second version, I understood what the passage was about, but I had a hard time with the Lattimore version.

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