"A thousand watchfires were burning upon the plain,/ and around each, fifty men sat in the glow of the firelight,/ and the horses stood alongside the chariots, munching/ white barley and oats, and waited for dawn to arise." Stephen Mitchell's translations of Gilgamesh, Genesis, Job, and the Tao de Ching have established him as a preeminent translator of ancient as well as modern texts. His new rendering of one of the pillars of Western literature reconfirms that reputation. As one writer previously noted, his translations sing with the clarity and vigor of their originals.
A great poem cannot be fully translated unless by a poet almost as great as its original author…W.H.D. Rouse…retells the story in fast, modern, colloquial prose. It is the first version I have ever seen which drives on as rapidly as the original and therefore it makes an excellent introduction to Homer. This is the translation to read first, if you have never read The Iliad.”—The New York Times Book Review
Spirited and provocative . . . a nobly bold even rousing venture . . . it would be hard to find a faster, livelier, more compact introduction to such a great range of recent Iliadic explorations.
Penetrating . . . reflecting her own skills [Alexander] provides her own translation of an entire chapter . . . a real bonus for the reader, comparing favorably with Lattimore and Fagles.
A tour de force, Alexander . . . We can see from what [Alexander] has done that a fine translation may well be the most elegant and revealing form of commentary.
True to the living word of the original Greek, Caroline Alexander’s new translation invites us to engage directly with this tradition. When I read her verses I can almost hear the music of Homeric performance.
Caroline Alexander has done admirably in rendering the meaning of the Homeric text faithfully and in suitably dignified language. The format gives a genuine sense of reading a verse epic. Her line-numbers match the Greek, which will make this version convenient for use by college teachers and students.
Caroline Alexander’s Iliad is miraculous . . . Its language conveys the precise meaning of the Greek in a sinewy yet propulsive style . . . In my judgment, this new translation is far superior to the familiar and admired work of Lattimore, Fitzgerald, and Fagles.
"[As] close to the original as is possible without reading the original Greek. It is refreshing, accurate, and direct."
"The energetic and rhythmic translation is quite faithful to the original."
There are many modern verse translations of The Iliad, including those by Robert Fitzgerald, Richmond Lattimore, Robert Fagles, Stanley Lombardo, and, more recently, Anthony Verity and Stephen Mitchell. Powell (emeritus, classics, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison; Writing and the Origins of Greek Literature), a distinguished Homer scholar and published poet with multiple books on the study of ancient Greek text and classical mythology, faces two challenges common to all translators of Homeric verse: how to capture the essential vigor and concision of oral poetry while remaining readable and how to represent a highly stylized and archaic idiom without sounding stilted. Powell is successful on both counts, offering a clear and energetic translation. VERDICT Staying true to Homer's poetic rhythms, Powell avoids the modified iambic lines found in Lattimore's, Fagles's, and Mitchell's works. He also avoids Lombardo's tendency to cast Homer in contemporary language and Fitzgerald's anachronisms. This fine version of The Iliad has a feel for the Greek but is more accessible than Verity's translation. Highly recommended for all libraries.—Thomas L. Cooksey, Armstrong Atlantic State Univ., Savannah