The Best Epic Translations: Lattimore (Iliad), Fagles (Odyssey), Fitzgerald (Aeneid), Pinsky (Inferno), Merwin (Purgatorio), Mandelbaum (Paradiso)
I've been scouring the web for people's opinions on the best translations of the greatest epics: Homer's Odyssey, Homer's Iliad, Virgil's Aeneid, and Dante's Divina Commedia.
After spending a few enjoyable hours comparing reviews, I'd say that the following translations are generally recognized to be the best ones:
|Homer's Iliad, translated by Richmond Lattimore (1951). Close race between Lattimore and Fagles (1990).|
Sing, goddess, the anger of Peleus’ son Achilleus
|Homer's Odyssey, translated by Robert Fagles (1999). Another close race with Lattimore (1965).|
Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns
|Virgil's Aeneid, translated by Robert Fitzgerald (1981). Closely followed by Allen Mandelbaum's 1971 translation. (Sarah Ruden's 2008 translation is also intriguing.)|
I sing of warfare and a man at war.
|Dante's Inferno, translated by Robert Pinsky (1995). Widely regarded as superior.|
Midway on our life's journey, I found myself
|Dante's Purgatorio, translated by W.S. Merwin (2000).|
To course on better waters the little
|Dante's Paradiso, translated by Allen Mandelbaum (1982).|
The glory of the One who moves all things
Those quotations give me goosebumps.