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Culture

Prof. Emily Wilson Discussed Her Translation of The Iliad in NYC

December 3, 2023

NEW YORK – The Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC) and Theodore’s Books presented an in-depth discussion with Professor Emily Wilson, a renowned classicist, author, and translator, on December 1 hosted by Consul General of Greece in New York Dinos Konstantinou at the Consular residence.

Following her groundbreaking translation of The Odyssey, which garnered praise from critics as “fresh, unpretentious and lean” (Madeline Miller, Washington Post), Prof. Wilson published her translation of The Iliad. The discussion will explored her latest translation, which has been described as a “triumph”, examining how Homer’s epic and the Classics continue to capture the imagination of people across the world.

Left to right: Former Congressman Steve Israel, Prof. Emily Wilson, Consul General of Greece in New York Dinos Konstantinou, and HALC Executive Director Endy Zemenides. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

Consul General Konstantinou gave the welcoming remarks noting that Prof. Wilson’s translation has been lauded by readers and critics “for its clarity, amazing storytelling, and lyrical quality.”

He thanked HALC Executive Director Endy Zemenides for organizing the event and

Theodore’s Books owner, former Congressman Steve Israel, who served as the moderator for the discussion and the Q&A session which followed. Konstantinou added that he hoped the event would “be the fist of many presenting books and masterpieces that go far beyond the borders of Greece.”

Zemenides thanked the Consul General for hosting the event, noting that it was the first of a new series, called Philology, in partnership with Theodore’s Books, to encourage a love of reading.

Left to right: Steve Tenedios, Olga Tenedios, Libby Angeliadies, and Merkourios A. Angeliades at The Hellenic Initiative 11th New York Gala on December 2. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

Congressman Israel also thanked the Consul General for hosting and pointed out that he spent 16 years in Congress, joking that he “left in rare form, undefeated and un-indicted.” He now runs Theodore’s Books in Oyster Bay, Long Island, NY, and noted that Wilson’s book enhanced his inventory. Israel opened the discussion by asking Wilson why the book is important now and what inspired her to take on the “Herculean task” of translating The Iliad.

Wilson noted that “this is not the first translation that I’ve published or done, so when I started my academic career I never thought I was going to be a translator, I started out with Classics at Oxford and then I did a degree in English Literature after that and then I did a PhD in Classics and Comparative Literature, so part of my training is in a longstanding interest and long history of English poetry and how ancient literature has been received and reinvented in later periods and so I’ve written various books and studies about that and then later I was approached to translate Seneca’s tragedies which I did and I was very excited by the idea of… how do ancient texts come alive again in new languages.”

Left to right: Prof. Emily Wilson and Mary Vaxevanidou, Head of the Greek Public Diplomacy Office. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

She pointed out that as a teacher, she found there was something missing in the translations available to her students such as the meter of Homer’s poetry in ancient Greek which was dactylic hexameter, so she wanted her translation to be as close as possible to that in English which is iambic pentameter.

Prof. Wilson signed copies of her book which was available for purchase at the event. Wilson is Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, she has also published translations of Sophocles, Euripides, and Seneca. Her books are available in bookstores and online.

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