In the last post I listed the sources I’m using to help with my idiosyncratic translation of The Odyssey, and there’s another tool that is proving to be quite useful. The Center for Hellenic Studies at Harvard, in the very capable hands of Claudia Filos, is producing a series of discussions among members of its faculty–specifically Gregory Nagy, Leonard Muellner, and Douglas Frame–who read through ten or twenty lines and then discuss them. Sounds kinda boring, and they start out giving the impression that they were dragged into this project kicking and screaming, but once they get going and start riffing off each other they bring out some very interesting stuff.
One idea that emerges is “the grammar of poetry and the poetry of grammar.” This is something that would be much more apparent in a live performance of The Odyssey, which is not likely to happen for you or me. But it has to do with the way the language is used to reinforce not only the points about the plot, but also the metaphors and allegorical aspects. I’ll be summarizing some of the main points of these videos in future posts, but if you have time I’d suggest you go to original videos. Here’s a link to the first one on the CHS Youtube channel, and the others should be listed nearby. Enjoy!