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The Odyssey - Emily Wilson - <span class="date-display-single">02/28/2019 - 7:30pm</span>

The Odyssey

02/28/2019 - 7:30pm

Central Library - Community Rooms 301 & 302

In this Humanities Without Boundaries lecture, Emily Wilson describes her approach to translating The Odyssey, and using this project as a springboard for further reflections on the practice and theory of translation within the world of Greek and Roman classics. Wilson's is a lean, fleet-footed translation that recaptures Homer’s “nimble gallop” and brings an ancient epic to new life.The first great adventure story in the Western canon, The Odyssey is a poem about violence and the aftermath of war; about wealth, poverty, and power; about marriage and family; about travelers, hospitality, and the yearning for home. In this fresh, authoritative version―the first English translation of The Odyssey by a woman―this stirring tale of shipwrecks, monsters, and magic comes alive in an entirely new way. Written in iambic pentameter verse and a vivid, contemporary idiom, this engrossing translation matches the number of lines in the Greek original, thus striding at Homer’s sprightly pace and singing with a voice that echoes Homer’s music.


Wilson’s Odyssey captures the beauty and enchantment of this ancient poem as well as the suspense and drama of its narrative. Its characters are unforgettable, from the cunning goddess Athena, whose interventions guide and protect the hero, to the awkward teenage son, Telemachus, who struggles to achieve adulthood and find his father; from the cautious, clever, and miserable Penelope, who somehow keeps clamoring suitors at bay during her husband’s long absence, to the “complicated” hero himself, a man of many disguises, many tricks, and many moods, who emerges in this translation as a more fully rounded human being than ever before. A fascinating introduction provides an informative overview of the Bronze Age milieu that produced the epic, the major themes of the poem, the controversies about its origins, and the unparalleled scope of its impact and influence. Maps drawn especially for this volume, a pronunciation glossary, and extensive notes and summaries of each book make this an Odyssey that will be treasured by a new generation of scholars, students, and general readers alike.


Presented in partnership with the UW-Madison Center for the Humanities.

Emily Wilson

About Presenter Emily Wilson


Emily Wilson is a Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Wilson did her B.A. in Literae Humaniores (Classics, Literature, and Philosophy) at Balliol College Oxford; M.Phil. in English Renaissance literature at Corpus College Oxford; and PhD in Comparative Literature and Classics at Yale.  She is the author of three monographs, “Mocked with Death” (on the tragic tradition from Sophocles to Milton), “The Death of Socrates”, and “The Greatest Empire”, a life of Seneca.  She has been for many years the Classics editor of the Norton anthology of World Literature.  She has written many reviews and essays and had published several verse translations, including Seneca’s tragedies, four plays of Euripides, and the Odyssey.


The Odyssey

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