The First Woman to Translate the ‘Odyssey’ Into English

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cwconrad
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The First Woman to Translate the ‘Odyssey’ Into English

Post by cwconrad » November 3rd, 2017, 8:32 am

A fascinating essay in tomorrow's NYT Magazine offers an account of Emily Wilson's new verse translation of the Odyssey of Homer, the first ever by a woman, including, among other things, the tough nut of how to translate the chief epithet for Odysseus, πολύτροπος, and translation as a perilous religious issue, as in the cases of Wycliffe and Tyndale: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/02/maga ... glish.html
οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

Wes Wood
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Re: The First Woman to Translate the ‘Odyssey’ Into English

Post by Wes Wood » November 3rd, 2017, 10:46 am

That was a fantastic read. Thanks for the post!
Ἀσπάζομαι μὲν καὶ φιλῶ, πείσομαι δὲ μᾶλλον τῷ θεῷ ἢ ὑμῖν.-Ἀπολογία Σωκράτους 29δ

Robert Crowe
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Re: The First Woman to Translate the ‘Odyssey’ Into English

Post by Robert Crowe » November 3rd, 2017, 1:37 pm

'Complicated' which virtually means 'Bastard' or 'Bitch' nowadays when describing a person, is hardly an apt epithet for the heroic Odysseus. Wilson claims she looked beyond dictionary entries, but this meaning for πολύτροπος is given in LSJ. Her boldness is to tag a man with it.
Tús maith leath na hoibre.

Wes Wood
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Re: The First Woman to Translate the ‘Odyssey’ Into English

Post by Wes Wood » November 3rd, 2017, 2:07 pm

Robert Crowe wrote:
November 3rd, 2017, 1:37 pm
'Complicated' which virtually means 'Bastard' or 'Bitch' nowadays when describing a person, is hardly an apt epithet for the heroic Odysseus. Wilson claims she looked beyond dictionary entries, but this meaning for πολύτροπος is given in LSJ. Her boldness is to tag a man with it.
Your claim as to the meaning of 'complicated' may be true in British or Australian English, but it certainly isn't true everywhere. Beyond that, I suppose whether or not it is an appropriate moniker is a matter of opinion. I personally think that it would suit him quite well a good bit of the time, but this conclusion rests solely on my own idiosyncratic connotations of the words you suggested.
Ἀσπάζομαι μὲν καὶ φιλῶ, πείσομαι δὲ μᾶλλον τῷ θεῷ ἢ ὑμῖν.-Ἀπολογία Σωκράτους 29δ

Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: The First Woman to Translate the ‘Odyssey’ Into English

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » November 3rd, 2017, 3:27 pm

Wes Wood wrote:
November 3rd, 2017, 2:07 pm
Robert Crowe wrote:
November 3rd, 2017, 1:37 pm
'Complicated' which virtually means 'Bastard' or 'Bitch' nowadays when describing a person, is hardly an apt epithet for the heroic Odysseus. Wilson claims she looked beyond dictionary entries, but this meaning for πολύτροπος is given in LSJ. Her boldness is to tag a man with it.
Your claim as to the meaning of 'complicated' may be true in British or Australian English, but it certainly isn't true everywhere. Beyond that, I suppose whether or not it is an appropriate moniker is a matter of opinion. I personally think that it would suit him quite well a good bit of the time, but this conclusion rests solely on my own idiosyncratic connotations of the words you suggested.
Out here on the Left Coast, eight time zones from Ireland, 'complicated' is a deliberately ambiguous word used when the speaker prefers to avoid using more explicit language. It's a dodgy word not in general use on the streets where I live.

Day after Halloween was walking hills in the park, I had three separate encounters with an unknown man. Yesterday at sundown when I met Olga and her mother Anna at the beach, I mentioned the unknown man. They also saw him. There was an instant consensus. The man was dangerous. He could also be described as complicated which can be used for someone who is psychotic but his most salient salient characteristic was dangerous.
C. Stirling Bartholomew

cwconrad
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Re: The First Woman to Translate the ‘Odyssey’ Into English

Post by cwconrad » November 3rd, 2017, 4:41 pm

For my part, I like "complicated." It suggests the overtones of Horace's Latin epithet (duplex Ulixes without tilting definitely in that direction. This is, after all, the man who lies to Athena immediately upon his return to Ithaca and forces the rugged swineherd Eumaeus to come only to slow recognition of his identity. I think "complicated" is about right (Honi soit qui mal y pense!)
οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

Shirley Rollinson
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Re: The First Woman to Translate the ‘Odyssey’ Into English

Post by Shirley Rollinson » November 4th, 2017, 12:47 pm

cwconrad wrote:
November 3rd, 2017, 4:41 pm
For my part, I like "complicated." It suggests the overtones of Horace's Latin epithet (duplex Ulixes without tilting definitely in that direction. This is, after all, the man who lies to Athena immediately upon his return to Ithaca and forces the rugged swineherd Eumaeus to come only to slow recognition of his identity. I think "complicated" is about right (Honi soit qui mal y pense!)
What comes to my mind is "slippery", or "slithery"

cwconrad
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Re: The First Woman to Translate the ‘Odyssey’ Into English

Post by cwconrad » November 5th, 2017, 7:27 am

Shirley Rollinson wrote:
November 4th, 2017, 12:47 pm
cwconrad wrote:
November 3rd, 2017, 4:41 pm
For my part, I like "complicated." It suggests the overtones of Horace's Latin epithet (duplex Ulixes without tilting definitely in that direction. This is, after all, the man who lies to Athena immediately upon his return to Ithaca and forces the rugged swineherd Eumaeus to come only to slow recognition of his identity. I think "complicated" is about right (Honi soit qui mal y pense!)
What comes to my mind is "slippery", or "slithery"
“Slippery” and “slithery” are not so much inaccurate —both adjectives certainly describe Odysseus — as they are one-sided, whereas the Homeric epithet is ambivalent. Do you admire the Odysseus of the Polyphemus episode or do you dislike him? He’s foolhardy, we might say, to get himself into a situation like this, but once in it he is resourceful and painstakingly careful . On the other hand, he cannot resist the impulse, once he is out of reach of the threats of the cyclops, to reveal his identity in a boastful shout, thereby winning for himself the enmity of Poseidon, who will delay his homecoming for many years more. The epithet πολύτροπος is multivalent: slippery/slithery he is, but he is resourceful and competent, able to save himself even when he cannot save his crew, deemed worthier of the arms of Achilles as a prize than the warrior of far superior integrity, Ajax.

A 1958 movie for his role in which Danny Kaye won a Golden Globe award was entitled, “Me and the Colonel.” Based on a Franz Werfel play, it portrays the endeavors of a Jewish tradesman, Jacobowski, and a Polish elite military officer attempting to escape from France as the Nazis are closing in on control of the country in 1940. The comedy is sustained by the character differences between the two: Kaye’s Jacobowski says at some point in each crisis, “My mother always told me there are several possibilities,” to which the colonel always replies, “For a man of honor there is only one.”

Odysseus is a character admired and adored by many, while to not a few he is an unsavory character. Tastes differ, but in my opinion, the epithet πολὺτροπος ought to be conveyed by a word that conveys the ambivalence.
οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

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