Ian Johnston vs Emily Wilson Iliad Translation Comparison

Years: 2010 and 2023

Johnston's translation of the Iliad is characterized by a clear and accessible language, allowing readers to easily engage with the complex plot and characters, while Wilson's translation captures the epic's emotional depth and rich poetic beauty, bringing to life the intensity of the Trojan War and the timeless themes of honor and heroism.

Passage comparison

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.

Emily Wilson

Goddess, sing of the cataclysmic wrath
of great Achilles, son of Peleus,
which caused the Greeks immeasurable pain
and sent so many noble souls of heroes
to Hades, and made men the spoils of dogs,
a banquet for the birds, and so the plan
of Zeus unfolded—starting with the conflict
between great Agamemnon, lord of men,
and glorious Achilles.


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