From e.g. and i.e. to metonymy and synecdoche, Greek and Latin have a tenacious hold on our language. Ever-evolving English capaciously welcomes "r u txting?" messages, e-books, and FedEx as a verb, but both the classics and old English endure at its roots. Let's take a look at two new books that demonstrate how the toga-clad still captures our attention and speaks across the centuries.
Stephen Mitchell's new translation of Homer's tale of Achilles's rage and the Trojan War leaves out hundreds of lines that some literary researchers claim were later interpolations. Lean and mean, The Iliad (The Stephen Mitchell Translation) may set the classicists all a-twitter. (Yes, there are classicists on twitter.)
Rendering the ancient Greek verse in swift-moving five-beat blank verse, this translation is well worth reading, whether one has previously studied the work and misses the omitted sections or one comes to it fresh, aware only that it is a story of war as relevant to the young soldiers going to Iraq and Afghanistan today as it was to soldiers going to war throughout the past 2,700 years.
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Ellen Scordato has 25 years' book publishing experience as an editor, copy editor, proofreader, and managing editor. She's now a partner in The Stonesong Press, a nonfiction book producer and agency. In addition to her work at Stonesong, Ellen has taught grammar, punctuation, and style at the New School for more than 12 years in the English Language Studies department and taught English as a Second Language at Cabrini Immigrant Services and the College of Mount Saint Vincent Language Institute.