Robert Fagles vs Ian Johnston Iliad Translation Comparison

Years: 1990 and 2010

Fagles' translation of the Iliad is poetic and majestic, highlighting the emotional depth of the characters and capturing the grandeur of the epic, while Johnston's translation is more straightforward and faithful to the original text, focusing on clarity and precision.

Passage comparison

Robert Fagles

Rage—Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus' son Achilles,
murderous, doomed, that cost the Achaeans countless losses,
hurling down to the House of Death so many sturdy souls,
great fighters' souls, but made their bodies carrion,
feasts for the dogs and birds,
and the will of Zeus was moving toward its end.

Ian Johnston

Sing, Goddess, sing the rage of Achilles, son of Peleus—
that murderous anger which condemned Achaeans
to countless agonies and threw many warrior souls
deep into Hades, leaving their dead bodies
carrion food for dogs and birds—
all in fulfilment of the will of Zeus.


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