1. Exquisite Tweets from @EmilyRCWilson

    PreoccupationsCollected by Preoccupations

    I've been asked many times about my translation of the first epithet in the "Odyssey": polytropos (polytropon). I won't boringly repeat my thoughts on that. But I want to emphasize how very difficult, on some level impossible, all the epithets in Homer are.

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    EmilyRCWilson

    Dr Emily Wilson

    How much repetition can a contemporary anglophone reader stand? What does repetition read like to us, vs sound like to an archaic audience? There's definitely a difference in what repetition conveys in different types of text & different cultural contexts. What then to do?

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    EmilyRCWilson

    Dr Emily Wilson

    More specifically: the repeated elements in Homer have a dignity, the power of poetic folk memory. But it's often extremely difficult to translate them into English without making them sound just clunky or awkward or totally ridiculous.

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    EmilyRCWilson

    Dr Emily Wilson

    A case I am struggling with today, for example: "polyrren"/ "polyarnos". Like "polytropos", it's a compound word: "much-lamb-y". It's a good thing, in the world of Homer, to be a person who owns lots of lambs. It's a potent, non-silly term of respect.

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    EmilyRCWilson

    Dr Emily Wilson

    But if I call somebody "much-lamb-y", "lambful", or "lamb-blest", you will likely think (a) I don't know how to write good English, or (b) I'm too lazy to think of a real word, or (c) I'm making fun of this poor old ancient lamb-owner with his primitive pre-capitalist wealth.

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    EmilyRCWilson

    Dr Emily Wilson

    I want to convey the rhythmical, repetitive, poetic and alien qualities of Homeric verse and the Homeric imaginary world. I also want to avoid making the poem sound either clunky or ridiculous, neither of which (the original) is. The original epithet isn't cute or dumb.

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    EmilyRCWilson

    Dr Emily Wilson

    This is a thread without a big reveal, because I don't know yet exactly what I will do, in this case or hundreds like it. There are many possible choices, and a choice I make for one word in one line has to make sense as part of a much larger poetic whole.

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    EmilyRCWilson

    Dr Emily Wilson

    I often encounter the idea among non-translators that there are a (tiny number) of words that are hard to translate, and all the others are easy. That is not the case. We have to weigh every every trope, twist, turn and sound: shepherding every lamb and every iamb.

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    EmilyRCWilson

    Dr Emily Wilson