Literary Programme 2018

Emily Wilson: The Odyssey by Homer

Emily Wilson: The Odyssey by Homer

Emily Wilson

Maritime Hotel

Fri 20 July 2018



Emily Wilson has written a lean, fleet-footed translation of The Odyssey 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, family and identity; and about travellers, hospitality and the changing meanings of home in a strange world.

This vivid new poetic translation—the first ever by a woman—matches the number of lines in the Greek original, thus striding at Homer’s sprightly pace. Eschewing showy poeticisms and high-flown rhetoric, Emily Wilson employs elemental, resonant language and a five-beat line to produce a translation with an enchanting ‘rhythm and rumble’ that avoids proclaiming its own grandeur or importance.

An engrossing tale told in a compelling new voice that allows contemporary readers to luxuriate in Homer’s magical descriptions and similes and to thrill at the tension and excitement of its hero’s fantastical adventures, Wilson’s Odyssey recaptures what is ‘epic’ about this wellspring of world literature.

‘The first version of Homer's groundbreaking work by a woman will change our understanding of it for ever... Emily Wilson’s crisp and musical version is a cultural landmark.’ Charlotte Higgins, Poetry Book of the Day, The Guardian

‘Friends, believe the hype. This translation is a marvel!... The sheer energy of the iambic pentameter is revelatory. Her word choices! The rhythm and the politics so delicious, so alive.’ Max Porter, author of Grief is the Thing with Feathers

‘Wilson’s translation is a superb achievement and a striking departure from the tradition of Homeric translation into English… [She] has produced a wonderfully distinctive – and modern – version of the poem.’ London Evening Standard

Emily Wilson is a British classicist. She is professor of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, having obtained her BA in Literae Humaniores, Classical Literature and Philosophy from Balliol College, Oxford, and her MPhil in English Renaissance Literature (1994) at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. She is the author of Mocked to Death: Tragic Overliving from Sophocles to Milton and The Death of Socrates: Hero, Villain, Chatterbox, Saint, as well as the translator of Six Tragedies of Seneca.

This event is presented in conjunction with Seamus Heaney HomePlace

Emily’s photo is by Ralph Rosen