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What Others Have Said About This Translation

The translation remains very close to Homer’s text, yet the modern English idiom is extremely fluent and clear, with a rhythm well suited to the speaking voice.

It’s no accident that this translation has formed the basis for dramatic presentations of the Iliad in Philadelphia and Oxford and was chosen by Naxos Audiobooks for its full-length recording of the poem.

Hear NPR's review of this translator's work.


Read what professors, teachers, students and other professionals have said about
Ian Johnston's translation of the Iliad and Odyssey and his other translations


 Ian Johnston has pulled it off: at last we have an Odyssey in English which is as natural, direct, and straightforward as the original Greek but which loses nothing of Homer's music. A model translation, ideal for students and lovers of poetry alike -- this is an Odyssey which sings.
Professor Jack Mitchell
Department of Classics
College of the Holy Cross
To render an ancient Greek text with its richly nuanced meanings and musical, rhythmic cadences in clear, accessible contemporary language without losing the effect of the original is an admirable achievement, exemplified by Ian Johnston’s translation of Homer’s Odyssey. From the opening invocation of the goddess of poetry—“Muse, speak to me now of that resourceful man / who wandered far and wide after ravaging / the sacred citadel of Troy”—to Odysseus’s meeting with the princess, Nausicaa—“He emerged, moving just like / a mountain lion which relies on its own strength--/ . . . its two eyes burning, coming in among the herd/ of sheep or cattle, or stalking a wild deer . . .”—to his narrative of the Underworld—“Then out of Erebus came swarming up/ shades of the dead—brides, young unmarried men, / old ones worn out with toil, young tender girls, /. . . and many men /wounded by bronze spears, who’d died in war”—to the hero’s arduous adventures taking them between the cavernous whirlpool Charybdis and the monster preying on his crew from the opposing cliffs—“Then, in the entrance of her cave, Scylla/ devoured the men, who still kept screaming, /stretching out their arms in my direction, / as they met their painful deaths”— and finally to his homecoming distinguished by his performance in the famous contest—“just as someone really skilled / at playing the lyre and singing has no trouble/ when he loops a string around a brand new peg, / . . . that’s how easily Odysseus strung that great bow. / Holding it in his right hand, he tried the string. / It sang out, resonating like a swallow’s song”—Johnson brings the dactylic rhythms, vivid imagery, elaborate similes, colorful characters, sheer adventure, and exquisite artistry of Homer’s text alive for contemporary students.
Daniel R White
Professor of Philosophy
Honors College
Florida Atlantic University
I am a pre-service teacher in California. As I was doing my fieldwork I came across the Ian Johnston translation of “The Odyssey,” which I then showed to my master teacher. He liked the translation so much that he wants to use it exclusively in his classes. When I get my own classroom, I plan to always use the Ian Johnson translation of any text that is available. These texts are far superior for the secondary classroom setting and I am so excited that I found them. I just wanted to say thank you for making available such a useful classroom tool.
Jaime A.

Excellent translation, easy to read, wonderful entry to epic Greek poems

I am a visiting assistant professor at the Washington University in St. Louis, MO, ... I am teaching Homer this semester, and I often turn to it to understand better the ancient text. It is a wonderfully written piece of work, and I wanted to give you the satisfaction that your labors have benefited a colleague as well as a new generation of young classicists.
Warm regards,
Eleni M.

I'm currently a sophomore in high school, and I studied the Iliad and Odyssey last year as a freshman. Now, I'm a third year Latin student, and while researching an essay on similarities between the Aeneid and Homer I came upon your translations of the Iliad and Odyssey. Especially for the Aeneid, the only English copies of ancient texts are translations almost as ancient, which are hardly a help when doing research. Your translations of the Homer, however, are easily understandable and have an excellent poetic flow as well. I ended up liking your translations so much that I used them instead of the other modern translations I had read last year.

Ian B.
I really enjoy your translations and after skimming some other versions of Homer's stories, I found that your translations were the best. I would really like to compliment you on that. (Rhode Island)

Hello. I'm a student at the University of Illinois - Chicago and am a big fan of your work. I strangely find myself coming back again and again to your work... leaving each time with a satisfying reading experience. As I'm sure you are acutely aware, your work has a certain pristine quality to it that other translations fall short of. The clarity of your expression (and the accuracy too) is quite remarkable. I've long been a fan of your translation of the Iliad---now that the Odyssey's here, I can't be happier. Do you have a fairly modern translation of Lysistrata? I love the translation of Oedipus the King I wish to congratulate you on a fine translation of Homers epic poem. For poetic content, I always favored Lattimer's translation. (Who else rendered English into the Greek favored Spondaic Hexameter?) But for flow and understanding, you translation is, in my humble opinion, vastly superior.

I really liked your translations of The Iliad and The Odyssey. Would you mind if I used them in the lesson as course books? (Uzbekistan)

Thank you so much for bringing Homer's works to life in a way that I and I'm sure thousands of others will love. (Kansas)

I heard your translation of Homer on NPR recently and was impressed by the clarity and readability of your language. I am an English teacher in Connecticut and am always trying to introduce students to more Homer. (Waterford, CT)

I have very much enjoyed reading your Homer translations – I really enjoy the easy fluidity of your style! (Harrisburg, NC)
I discovered your Iliad and Odyssey texts on line three years ago, and have used them ever since for my grade 9 gifted students in a high school program. . . . Like many of your other admirers, I really like your translation. (Toronto)

I have read the first chapter of your translation of The Iliad on line, and was so pleased that I will be ordering this as well your version of The Odyssey. I have a copy of the Iliad translated by Samuel Butler, which I attempted to read for the first time after my 8 year old son read Mary Pope Osborne's rendition of The Odyssey, but I did not have the same success he had. I think I'll be more successful with your translation. (Toronto)

Your translation is so much easier to understand than any other publication available. Even what we have read online has helped my son who is encountering this epic for his first time ever as a high school freshman.
I cannot tell you of the pleasure I have had reading your translation... It is clear, it is eloquent, and — most importantly — it's exciting. The Iliad thrilled me as a schoolboy and I have eagerly absorbed each of the many versions that have appeared down the years. Our classics teacher was a very wise man — he knew we'd never read it at home as part of an assignment — so he assigned us all roles in the story and we read the whole thing aloud in class over the course of an entire school year. The class was as polarized and confrontational being Greeks and Trojans as were the Jets and the Sharks when Jerome Robbins rehearsed West Side Story. Of course, everyone wanted to be Achilles and nobody wanted to be Hera, but . . . .
Cordially yours,
John M.

I was captivated by your new translation of the Iliad. I am currently reading Samuel Butlers translation, having recently discovered Greek Mythology thanks to Dan Simmons' Sci-Fi Novels Ilium and Olympus, and even though it is extremely engaging and fantastic to read, I instantly found that your translation flows better and was more accessible. . . .
Kindest Regards
Richard W.
Ian- your translation of The Iliad is definitely student friendly. I'm using Fagles' translation with my Grade XII Classical Studies classes and your translation would be even better. . . .
Thanks for your work. My students will benefit.
Peter A.

Two summers ago, I happened upon your translation of the Iliad. The Iliad provided a retreat, to which I eventually brought Sophocles, Aeschylus and Ted Hughes. The simple elegance and truth of your translation still delights me. For what the above is all worth, I have a grade 7 English and did not attend university.
Merci encore
Lupita K

I just wanted to say thanks for putting your translation of the Iliad on the web- I think it's excellent.
Timothy E
Fellow in Law
Balliol College

Oh, I'm very happy to find a new translation of Iliad here. What you do give me much good inspiration. Thank you for your effort.

Yours, Tang
I stumbled across your translation of the Iliad... and like it very much - and intend to use it for a class next term.
Frank R.

Many, many thanks for your recent translation of the Iliad. I was classically trained myself, and now my son is going off to St. John's College in Annapolis. His first assignment is the Iliad, and I have given him your translation. It has the life of the original!!!!

David S.
Lehigh University

[re Iliad] I'm sure it will soon prove to be my favorite translation of Homer's great epic. What an exciting discovery for me today!
Tom B.

I send this note simply to say thank-you for making available your translation of the Iliad. You translation style too keeps close enough to the Greek to allow room for comments about the oral-derived nature of the present text. All the best,
Andrew Porter
Graduate Lecturer
Editorial Assistant for the journal Oral Tradition
Editor of Mercurius
Department of Classical Studies
420 GCB
University of Missouri - Columbia
Columbia, MO 65211

I came across your Iliad translation when I made a Google (actually Vivisimo) search for new translations and/or the original Greek online.

Yours is simply gorgeous, or at least what I've seen of it. It's the truest in both verse form and spirit of the original that I've seen. Don't mean to gush, but it simply blew me away.

With best wishes,

Nancy C.

Thank you for such a wonderful translation of the Agamemnon and for making it so accessible
(St Andrews, Scotland)

Thank you so much for this beautiful translation of the Iliad. I have been searching and searching for a poetic form of the Iliad that I can give to my sophomores. This will totally work. I really enjoy your translation of the Iliad. Thank you so much for making this and your other translations available.. I have been using small sections of it my Western Civ classes for years. (Idaho)

I would like to express my sincere thanks for your translation of Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morals. I am using it this semester in my Introduction to Philosophy course. I find it forceful and accurate, successfully capturing the spirit of the work, and my students find it stimulating and interesting to read. It is wonderful that you have made such a fine contribution to scholarship. (Rhode Island)

I started reading your abridged translation of the Iliad and am impressed with the readability - quite different than the version I remember from my university days (1967). Thanks for the excellent work. I am staying in Moscow, Russia, and am re-reading the classics. (Moscow)

I'll be reading Philoctetes with my class this year, and will also recommend your Orestes. I haven't read through either translation in detail yet, but what I've looked at is excellent: an up-to-date version that gives people a clear sense of what the author wrote, in English a typical student can understand and respond to.

I am teaching English 123 . . . . And I would like to use your translation of Oedipus. Although I bought Moses Hadas as a text, students are finding it difficult. I like your translation much better.
(Peoria, Illinois)

Thank you very much for the modern translation of the Iliad of Homer. I am enjoying it very much. I learned of your translation of the Iliad from NPR. I found it on the web and after reading a few lines was immediately convinced that it offered a far better introduction to the text than any of the other translations that I've read. Thank you both for the work you've done in making the translation. Let me congratulate you for this very practical possibility, of outstanding quality. (Saarbrucken)

Your translation of "The Iliad" is quite remarkable. It has power that I have not seen in previous translations. Thank you for this work. I look forward to adding it and your translation of "The Odyssey" to my library. (Ann Arbor)

I read your translation of the Iliad last semester as I was preparing for my exams in university. I enjoyed it very much. My professor assigned the Lattimore translation, which I found absolutely mind-numbing to read, so I scoured the internet to find a more friendly translation, which I found in yours. I'd like to thank and commend you on producing wonderful translations of these texts. I know I will return to translations of yours whenever possible in the future. I am enjoying very much your lucid translation of On the Genealogy of Morals. I find it much more accessible than the earlier Kaufmann edition, thus enabling a readier sense of conversation with this cantankerous uncle of ours. (Washington, DC)

I read the text on Bacchae and I found it very useful. I want to translate it to Macedonian for our class, but I'm having trouble understanding (or better yet translating) some of the sentences and points in the text. So, I was wondering if I can ask you for some clarification? (Macedonia)

As part of the drama minor programme, I am producing The Bacchae, and I've decided to use your translation. Having read your translation for my Greek Tragedy class, I found your version surprisingly accessible for a translation that’s so faithful to the Greek. (Fredericton)

Thank you so much for the translation of "The Frogs..." I am going to see the play performed tonight at the ancient theatre in Argos and I'm sure I'll get a lot more out of it thanks to your efforts. I compared a few translations but yours seemed the most satisfying. The notes are very useful, too - I might have got the mythological references, and even some of the literary ones, but gay Athenians, ghost writers and crooked laundry keepers would have passed me by.

Your translation of the Iliad is fantastic; I'm really enjoying it (as is my six-year old, who occasionally has me read some to him). I'm fairly tearing through it at this point, and looking forward to the "sequel"...the Odyssey?
(New York City)

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