Personal odyssey

i-ab9ee2f708974b65e3cd6d6c1fa1e0bc-jordan.jpgA heartfelt translation, nine years in the making

In 1998 when Herbert Jordan ’60 visited his daughter at St. John’s College in Santa Fe, he picked up her copy of a translation of the Iliad. He read the first page and “it electrified me,” he says. So he got his own copy and read every translation of the Iliad and the Odyssey he could find. A year later, tragedy struck when his only son died in a car crash at 16. At the urging of a friend, he began to teach himself to read Homer in the original Greek, as a way, he says, “to channel grief.” He spent a couple years learning the language, spending four to six hours a day on the task.

As he began to learn the language and read the Iliad, says Jordan, “I felt that I could relate to the spirit of the original better than any of the translators I read.” And he sensed “I was there, by the ships on the beach below Troy,” says Jordan, who has had a wide-ranging career as an attorney, CEO of a window and door manufacturing business, and founder of a maple syrup production business and a charitable legal service. He tried his hand at translating the epic poem of gods and warriors, line by line, into English blank verse. The hardest part, he says, was “learning to deal with Greek irregular verbs.” Along the way he had some help from Henry Taylor, a Pulitzer-prize winning poet, who went over his drafts, coaching him on diction and tone. When he started the translation, Jordan had no intention of publishing it. But University of Oklahoma Press was impressed and last October published it. A reviewer from Bryn Mawr Classical Review called Jordan’s translation “remarkably lively and poetic” and a “very easy, vivid read.”

Even though it took nine years in all to complete the Iliad, Jordan is already at work on his next project: translating the Odyssey. By Katherine Federici Greenwood

(Photo courtesy Herbert Jordan)

 

Men’s and women’s basketball: Previewing the Ivies

The Princeton men’s and women’s basketball teams each entered the two-and-a-half-week exam break on winning streaks — streaks they hope to continue when the Ivy League tips off the heart of its schedule Jan. 30.

The men were picked to finish last in a preseason poll of Ivy media, and with a 5-8 record in non-league games, the Tigers still have much to prove. But a solid win over Lehigh Jan. 7 gave Princeton a confidence boost. Only two Ivy teams have winning records outside the league: Cornell (10-6 in non-Ivy games), the defending champion and Ivy favorite, and Harvard (8-6 non-Ivy), which notched an impressive upset win at Boston College Jan. 7. Yale topped Brown in its first two Ivy contests and could join Cornell and Harvard as a league title contender.

When Princeton faces Dartmouth Jan. 30, the starting lineup likely will include three four players who have never started an Ivy game: freshman Doug Davis, sophomores Kareem Maddox and Dan Mavraides, and junior Pawel Buczak. Coach Sydney Johnson ’97 said that stressing defense could help the Tigers overcome inexperience. “We need to get stops in the winning moments, and then the offense will come,” he said in early January. “If you look at us at this point, compared to last year, clearly we’re defending better.”

On the women’s side, perennial Ivy powers Dartmouth and Harvard look strong again, but the big two expect challenges from Cornell, which shared the league title with the Big Green and Crimson last year, and Columbia, led by sophomore Judie Lomax, a talented transfer from Oregon State who has averaged 13.8 points and 13.6 rebounds per game this year. Beginning Jan. 30, the Princeton women (6-9 overall) will play all four of those top teams in a nine-day span — a major challenge for coach Courtney Banghart’s young squad, which won its Ivy opener against Penn Jan. 10.

Whitney Downs ’09, Addie Micir ’11, and Lauren Edwards ’12 have led the way for the young Tigers so far this season. In the Ivy’s midseason media conference call, Banghart said she was thrilled with her team’s energy and hunger, but a little concerned about how her team would react to the Ivy League’s intense Friday-Saturday schedule. Said Banghart: “I don’t think you can understand the back-to-back and the battle of tournament play every weekend until you’ve actually lived through it.”

 

Names in the news

Karen Smyers ’83, one of five inductees included in the first class of the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame, talked about overcoming challenges in her career. [Endurance Planet]

Lisa Jackson *86, President Barack Obama’s choice to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, was a “master juggler” as an official in New Jersey. [The New York Times]

International Rescue Committee president George Rupp ’64 helped celebrate the 75th anniversary of the group’s founding. [Miami Herald]

Don Oberdorfer ’52 discussed America’s diplomacy with North Korea and the status of the country’s leader, Kim Jong-Il. [The New York Times]

The American Plan, a 1990 play written by Richard Greenberg ’80, returned to Broadway in a well-received revival. [The New York Times]

 

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