Comparative Odyssey Translation Analysis

The man, O Muse, inform!   
Muse make the man thy theme!
O Muse! Resound!
Tell me, O Muse!
Sing in me, Muse!
Sing to me of the man, Muse

The Odyssey, greatest classic of Western literature, has been translated into English many times since first Chapman "spoke out loud and bold" in 1616. Your task in this paper is to study to the art of the poem and the poetry and cultural situatedness of translation as you closely analyze the language of several different translation of the famous opening lines.

What choices do translators make? What does one translator emphasize vs another? How do the poetic (and cultural?) values of the times influence translation? What makes one translation more appealing than another? Why?

This project takes advantage of a wide range of internet archives and resources to engage in a project previously only possible for specialized scholars.

Examine a variety of the dozen translations available in English from our class syllabus as well as the word-for-word transliteration from the Ancient Greek. Focus on two, three, or four translations and make careful notes about the choices the translators have made, how those choices effect the meaning of the poem, and speculate as to what those choices may indicate about the translator and/or his historical/cultural situation. You may wish to do some additional research on the background of the translator you are working with.

Develop a thesis statement and supporting arguments, drawing on many examples from the text. Bring a four-plus page rough draft to class on 10/5. Final paper is due 10/10.

Created by: allen.webb@wmich.edu
Revised Date: 9/06