Translating Homer

Curated by Pablo Alvarez, Outreach Librarian & Curator, Special Collections Library


This is an online version of the exhibit “Translating Homer: from Papyri to Alexander Pope,” which was on display at U-M’s Hatcher Graduate Library from August 9-October 7, 2012.  Based on holdings from the Papyrology Collection and the Special Collections Library, the exhibit  includes a selection of papyri and early printed books illustrating how the Iliad and the Odyssey, two epic poems originally composed in the oral tradition, were first written down, edited, and eventually translated into the main European languages. The original exhibit was part of the LSA Fall 2012 Translation theme semester. 

Translating an Oral Tradition into Writing

It is very likely that the Iliad and the Odyssey were texts orally composed for performance and, based on that performance, written down..

Translating Homer into Print

One of the aims of the early humanists was to produce Latin translations of important Greek authors. However, there were..

The Latin Homer

After Leontius Pilatus completed his Latin line-by-line translation of both poems in 1362, other Latin versions of Homer ensued in..

Homer in the Vernacular

The history of the first translations of the Homeric poems into the main European languages is fascinating, for it often..

The Englished Homer

The first translation of Homer into English consisted of the first ten books of the Iliad by Arthur Hall in..

Poetry into Images: John Ogilby

Scotsman John Ogilby (1600–1676) lived a diverse and flamboyant life. He was a dancing master, courtier, and theatre owner between..

Alexander Pope

Alexander Pope (1688–1744) was an outsider in his own society, struggling for acceptance and using his literary talents to succeed...

Homer and the Civil War

The following video features the reading of a letter that a U-M alumnus, Capt. William Wirt Wheeler of the 6th..

The Scholarly and the Burlesque

It would be impossible to separate translations of Homer from the task of editing the two epic poems, particularly when..


I would like to thank David Hytinen (Media Consultant) for the production of the three YouTube videos included in this exhibit. Meghan Musolff (Special Projects..