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The Homeric Hymns: A Translation, with Introduction and Notes Hardcover – February 12, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (February 12, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520239911
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520239913
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,131,538 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"This translation beautifully captures the style of the Homeric Hymns, at once pictorial and flowing. With an art that conceals art, Rayor finds the right euphonious language: accurate, vibrant without calling attention to itself, varied in tone, and natural. It is a delight to read."—Eva Stehle, author of Performance and Gender in Ancient Greece

From the Back Cover

"This translation beautifully captures the style of the Homeric Hymns, at once pictorial and flowing. With an art that conceals art, Rayor finds the right euphonious language: accurate, vibrant without calling attention to itself, varied in tone, and natural. It is a delight to read."-Eva Stehle, author of Performance and Gender in Ancient Greece

More About the Author

Diane Rayor is Professor of Classics at Grand Valley State University in the department that she co-founded in 2000. She teaches classical literature, mythology, ancient Greek language, and women in antiquity.

Rayor has published six book translations of ancient Greek poetry and drama: Sappho: A New Translation of the Complete Works (Cambridge University Press, July 2014); Euripides' 'Medea': A New Translation (Cambridge U P, 2013); Sophocles' 'Antigone': A New Translation (Cambridge U P, 2011); Homeric Hymns: A Translation, with Introduction and Notes (California U P, updated 2014); Sappho's Lyre: Archaic Lyric and Women Poets of Ancient Greece (California U P, 1991); and Callimachus (with S. Lombardo, 1988).

Her newly available Sappho is the definitive translation in English: it is the only edition that includes the recently discovered new poems and additions from 2014 and 2004.

"Rayor's translations allow the poetry of Sappho to shine. Every piece of what remains of Sappho's songs is reproduced here, including the most recent discoveries, thereby providing the reader with the most comprehensive English collection available. A wonderful and inspiring work."
- Marguerite Johnson, The University of Newcastle, Australia

"This book joins an eloquent translation of Sappho's wide range of expression with a judicious guide to problems of text and interpretation. The combination provides a reliable and enjoyable introduction to Sappho's poetry and a firm basis for discussion of the many responses it has evoked."
- Joel Lidov, Queens College and the Graduate School, City University of New York

"Diane Rayor's translation captures the quality of Sappho's poetry: seemingly simple, but luminous, with unexpected shifts of perspective that change the meaning. Neither too literal nor too free, her lucid, musical rendering of Sappho's Greek is a delight to read, and to read aloud."
- Eva Stehle, University of Maryland

"With lovely translations and lucid commentary, Rayor and Lardinois re-create the Sapphic fragments (including several rediscovered in our own century) in subtle colors, presenting Sappho like Aphrodite on her 'throne of many hues.' This volume is a welcome addition to the long tradition of translating Sappho; ideal for students and teachers, and a delight to all readers eager to read Sappho anew."
- Yopie Prins, University of Michigan

The three benches with Sappho (#104A) inscribed are in Central Park zoo in New York (see photos).

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Ian M. Slater TOP 1000 REVIEWER on August 13, 2004
Format: Paperback
For those unfamiliar with the "Homeric Hymns," translated in this case by Diane Rayor: they are a set of thirty-three or thirty-four short and long poems in honor of the major -- and a few minor -- Greek Gods, in the dactylic hexameter used in the "Iliad" and the "Odyssey," and other early Greek poems. They are attributed to Homer in the surviving manuscripts, and some allusions and quotations in classical writing. This is not taken seriously, but provides a label. Some are clearly early, a few are suspected of being Hellenistic, or even post-Christian. The longer hymns combine invocation, praise, and extended narratives; the shorter hymns lack the narrative, and in few cases are little more than invocations. They also vary considerably in the solemnity with which they approach the gods (see the trickster Hermes as a baby in Hymn 4). The two opening hymns survive in one damaged manuscript, so "To Dionysos" is a set of fragments, and, "To Demeter," has several gaps. The third, "To Apollo," is suspected of being two separate works linked by an ancient editor. The last piece, "To Hosts," is sometimes excluded, as it is a reminder that hospitality is a sacred duty, and not actually a hymn, and is also found in other contexts. All but a few are clearly intended for public performance, either as short introductions (proems), or as major pieces in themselves.

As I have commented in reviews of other translations, by Apostolos N. Athanassakis (Johns Hopkins, 1976), Jules Cashford (Penguin Classics, 2003, with Introduction and Notes by Nicholas Richardson) and Martin L. West ("Homeric Hymns, Homeric Apocrypha, Lives of Homer," Loeb Classical Library, 2003, with a newly-edited Greek text), this long-neglected body of texts has received several bursts of attention over the last few decades.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Rosa Horan on July 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
These dynamic translations will interest both beginners and more advanced readers, whether to read these as poetry and great stories, for their importance in World Literature, or their particular relation to classical antiquity. The hymns are immensely readable in Rayor's smooth and engaging translations, and the length of the hymns, and their appeal to myth, makes them really perfect for classroom use. Readers will be fascinated with their speculations on the origins, powers, and mishaps of the gods and goddesses, and they provide a great take-off point for writing assigments, in my classes. Rayor's notes are clear, to the point, giving just enough detail for readers who want more, and signalling where we can look further. The text throughout is well-informed by recent anthropological approaches that have expanded knowledge of ancient Greek culture, evident in the valuable introduction and notes, which attend to the interrelation of literature, folklore, religion, and geography. Rayor's introduction adopts a practical-minded, functionalist approach to literary problems such as genre and authorship, describing a hymn as a poem of praise, sometimes narrative, addressed to a god, and noting the importance of oral performance in Greek culture. I took personal delight in the maps and glossary, whose easy-to-follow pronounciation guide anticipates and lays aside the uncertainties about proper names that many students find to be the greatest single obstacle to the Hymn and to classics. Casual readers will appreciate the clarity and accuracy of the language, with its fast-paced readability: the English of the hymns neither extrapolates nor subtracts from the original texts, balancing the desire for accuracy with creating a translation that is at once concise and musical.Read more ›
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Clements on October 18, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A beautiful and accessible translation. The notes in the back are an added bonus.
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0 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Sotel on October 27, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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