Jordan ’60 Translates Homer’s Odyssey

HomerNew book: The Odyssey, translated by Herbert Jordan ’60, with an introduction by E. Christian Kopff (University of Oklahoma Press)

The translator: After his only son was killed in 1999 in a car accident, Jordan, who had been reading Homer in translation, learned to read the original Homeric Greek to help channel his grief. Later he decided to tackle producing a new verse translation of the Iliad, and has now done the same with the Odyssey. An attorney, Jordan is an independent scholar of Greek.

The book: Homer’s Odyssey is a classic of Western Literature. Jordan translates the ancient Greek epic into blank verse, rendering the Odyssey line-for-line in iambic pentameter. Jordan navigates Homer’s dactyls and extended metaphors, capturing the essence of the poet’s meanings while avoiding an overly literal or colloquial style. This edition features maps of the Aegean region and Odysseus’ travels, explanatory notes, a pronunciation glossary of nouns, and an index of similes.

Opening lines: “Tell how he wandered, Muse, time and again/ confounded, after he sacked Troy’s citadel,/ how many towns he saw and learned their ways,/ how many trials the man endured at sea/ to save his comrades’ lives, return them home./ Hard though he tried, he failed to save those men/ whose recklessness secured their own demise.”

Read more: PAW’s Jan. 28, 2009 story on Herbert Jordan ’60.

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