In 2002, the University of Michigan Press published Rodney Merrill's translation of Homer's Odyssey, an interpretation of the classic that was unique in employing the meter of Homer's original. Praising Merrill's translation of the Odyssey, Gregory Nagy of Harvard wrote, "Merrill's fine ear for the sound of ancient Greek makes the experience of reading his Homer the nearest thing in English to actually hearing Homer. The translator's English renders most faithfully the poet's ancient Greek---not only the words and meaning but even the voice."
Merrill has now produced an edition of Homer's Iliad, following the same approach. This form of rendering is particularly relevant to the Iliad, producing a strong musical setting that many elements of the narrative require to come truly to life. Most notable are the many battle scenes, to which the strong meter gives an impetus embodying and making credible the "war-lust" in the deeds of the combatants.
For many years, until his retirement, Rodney Merrill taught English composition and comparative literature at Stanford and Berkeley. In addition to his translation of Homer's Odyssey, he is the author of "Chaucer's Broche of Thebes."
Jacket photograph © 2007 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
"Other competent translations of Homer exist, but none accomplish what Merrill aims for: to convey to the reader-listener in translation the meaning and the sounds of Homer, coming as close as possible to the poetry of the original. Merrill accomplishes this virtuosic achievement by translating Homer's Greek into English hexameters, a process requiring not only a full understanding of the original Greek, but also an unusual mastery of the sounds, rhythms, and nuances of English."
---Stephen G. Daitz, Professor Emeritus of Classics, City University of New York
"This is a faithful and powerful rendition of the original Greek. With his deep understanding of the language, [Merrill] has succeeded in capturing the heroic essence of the Homeric Iliad."
---Gregory Nagy, Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature, Harvard University, and author of Poetry as Performance: Homer and Beyond