E. V. Rieu vs Ian Johnston Iliad Translation Comparison

Years: 1950 and 2010

Rieu's translation of the Iliad is known for its smooth and accessible language, making it ideal for a general reader, whereas Johnston's translation emphasizes the rhythmic and poetic qualities of the original Greek, appealing to those who appreciate a more poetic rendering.

Passage comparison

E. V. Rieu

Anger — sing, goddess, the anger of Achilles son of Peleus, that accursed anger, which brought the Greeks endless sufferings and sent the mighty souls of many warriors to Hades, leaving their bodies as carrion for the dogs and a feast for the birds; and Zeus' purpose was fulfilled. It all began when Agamemnon lord of men and godlike Achilles quarrelled and parted.

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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