In 2002, the University of Michigan Press published Rodney Merrill's translation of Homer's Odyssey, an interpretation of the classic that was unique in employing the meter of Homer's original. Praising Merrill's translation of the Odyssey, Gregory Nagy of Harvard wrote, "Merrill's fine ear for the sound of ancient Greek makes the experience of reading his Homer the nearest thing in English to actually hearing Homer. The translator's English renders most faithfully the poet's ancient Greek---not only the words and meaning but even the voice."
Merrill has now produced an edition of Homer's Iliad, following the same approach. This form of rendering is particularly relevant to the Iliad, producing a strong musical setting that many elements of the narrative require to come truly to life. Most notable are the many battle scenes, to which the strong meter gives an impetus embodying and making credible the "war-lust" in the deeds of the combatants.
For many years, until his retirement, Rodney Merrill taught English composition and comparative literature at Stanford and Berkeley. In addition to his translation of Homer's Odyssey, he is the author of "Chaucer's Broche of Thebes."
Jacket photograph © 2007 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
"Other competent translations of Homer exist, but none accomplish what Merrill aims for: to convey to the reader-listener in translation the meaning and the sounds of Homer, coming as close as possible to the poetry of the original. Merrill accomplishes this virtuosic achievement by translating Homer's Greek into English hexameters, a process requiring not only a full understanding of the original Greek, but also an unusual mastery of the sounds, rhythms, and nuances of English."
"This is a faithful and powerful rendition of the original Greek. With his deep understanding of the language, [Merrill] has succeeded in capturing the heroic essence of the Homeric Iliad."
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Singing the Iliad
Forced by Apollos punishment to return Chryses daughter Agamemnon takes Achilles prizegirl
After telling a deceptive dream Agamemnon orders withdrawal Odysseus halts it then scourges
Paris avoids Meneláos response to his challenge then agrees to fight from the wall Helen identifies
whom Macháon treats Agamemnon urges the lords roused by gods the armies battle
Without any gods the battle continues Agamemnon kills Adréstos Diomédes and Glaukos talk
who decides to retreat but emboldened by Paris answers Ajaxs jeers and leads
Poseidon encourages the Achaian lords to keep fighting Hera plots to make Zeus sleep aiding
Awakening Zeus sends Iris to stop Poseidon and Apollo to aid the Trojans Hektor fights
Yielding to Patróklos plea Achilles sends him out with the Myrmidons he kills Sarpédon
Achaians and Trojans battle over Patróklos body Hektor dons Achilles armor with gods
Achilles Thetis and seanymphs lament the heroes death Achilles rescues Patróklos body
Receiving the arms Achilles renounces his wrath Agamemnon blames Delusion which harms
Zeus sends the gods to aid both sides Achilles speaks and fights with Aineías whom Poseidon
At a night council the Achaians dispatch spies Diomédes and Odysseus who capture and kill
Agamemnon rampages and is wounded Paris and Sokos wound Diomédes Odysseus Macháon
Battle rages at the wall which gods later will destroy the Trojans keep attacking despite
Achilles kills many men in the river who begs him to stop then threatens Hera sends
His parents beg Hektor to come in Hektor refuses Achilles chases him Athena deceives
chariotracing boxing wrestling footrace spearfight hurling a lump archery and spearthrow
Achilles keeps dragging Hektor angered Zeus says he must give up the body with Hermes