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CLA 130 — The Art of Translation: Homer's Iliad

Quarter: Summer
Day(s): Thursdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 6 weeks
Date(s): Jul 8—Aug 12
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Jul 10
Unit: 1
Tuition: $360
Instructor(s): Barbara Clayton
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Registration opens May 17, 8:30 am (PT)
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Jul 8—Aug 12
6 weeks
Refund Date
Jul 10
1 Unit
Barbara Clayton
Registration opens May 17, 8:30 am (PT)
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
When it comes to reading classic works by the ancient Greeks and Romans we rely almost entirely upon translations. Consequently, we depend upon the skills and subjective decisions of the translators for accuracy and authenticity. But what makes one translation better than another? In this course, we will take a close look at the art of translation by focusing on one of the most frequently translated poems in the Western canon, Homer’s Iliad. Richmond Lattimore’s 1951 translation will serve as our reference text, because his version is both elegant and comes very close to approximating a line-by-line equivalence to the ancient Greek. Our survey will include excerpts from two of the most famous pre-20th-century translators: George Chapman (a contemporary of William Shakespeare) and Alexander Pope (early 18th century). We will also examine several prose translations from the 20th century. We will end with two bold renditions of the Iliad: Christopher Logue's controversial War Music (1981), which represents a nontraditional approach to translation, and Alice Oswald's brilliant Memorial (2011), which calls itself a "version" of Homer's Iliad.

Students need not be familiar with the Iliad, but a curiosity about the magic of translation is required.

Independent Scholar

Barbara Clayton has taught Classics at Oberlin College, Santa Clara University, and Stanford, where she was a lecturer in a freshman humanities program for many years. Since 2015, she has taught for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. She is the author of A Penelopean Poetics: Reweaving the Feminine in Homer’s Odyssey. Clayton received a PhD in Classics from Stanford.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Lattimore, Richmond, trans. and Homer, The Iliad of Homer (ISBN 0226470490)
(Required) Christopher Logue, War Music (ISBN 9780374536817)
(Required) Alice Oswald, Memorial (ISBN 9780393347272)