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Favorite Herodotus Translation?

Folio Society devotees

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Sep 24, 2012, 10:14am Top

For those who have read it, do you like the Aubrey de Selincourt, Henry Cary, or another translation of The Histories?

Thank you.

Sep 24, 2012, 10:28am Top

I've actually just begun reading the Histories, the Robin Waterfield translation (with the Dewald introduction). It's the Oxford version.

I haven't hit the Waterfield section, as I've been engrossed in the Dewald introduction. So there's another option for you.

Sep 24, 2012, 10:37am Top

>1 SaxonWarlord: Ah one of my very favourite books! This will fo course very much be a matter of taste, but the classic translation by George Rawlinson is my personal favourite, which I have in an attractive Everyman's Library edition, but some may find the style a little dated and prefer a more modern translator such as Aubrey de Selincourt or David Grene. I have read neither of the latter two, but they seem to be the most recommended modern translators.

But my personal favourite publication of The Histories, is The Landmark Herodotus. Published in 2008 and translated by Andrea Purvis, it truly was a landmark publication, with an amazing number of maps, illustrations, annotations etc. It brings The Histories to life in a way no other version has done. The rest of the Landmark series is also essential reading.

My third copy is the FS version, with the Cary translation, which is nice on the shelf with the rest of my FS books in the same binding series, but I have to admit it never gets taken out. I only go back to The Landmark and Rawlinson.

Sep 24, 2012, 11:22am Top

I agree with Conte_Mosca that the Landmark edition is a very useful compendium on all things Herodotus. The maps, especially, are really useful. Waterfield is good and he puts in connecting words like "Anyway" which jolly things along (not that the lively Herodotus needs much jollying, unless you read Cary, which is full of classical subordinate clauses). But I much prefer the translation by de Sélincourt, simply because it reads so well you forget it's a translation.

Sep 24, 2012, 12:48pm Top

Thanks for all your input folks.

boldface, what do you mean by "classical subordinate clauses"?

Sep 24, 2012, 1:49pm Top

> 5

Your above-mentioned question having been read and understood, I would say that I was loosely alluding to a style of English, which, by virtue of having been nurtured under the influence of a classical education, is predisposed towards a Latinate construction. That's what you get if you translate Greek, and especially Latin, literally.

Sep 24, 2012, 8:10pm Top

I read it in Rawlinson's translation, was accustomed to the rather dated style, but might consider a newer translation if I read it again, just to get a different impression. I wish I had waited for the 'Landmark' edition, as my copy had only a couple of maps, and did not show many of the key place names. I got the sense that they just stuck in a couple of regional maps from the public domain. I spent a lot of time with a small historical atlas, trying to keep up with the text.

I would personally consider good maps to be more important than the 'readability' of the translation (as long as it is a quality translation). I can adjust to almost anyone's English (from Shakespeare to Walter Scott to now; from England to Scotland, to Australia), but a sweeping history such as this with practically no maps is impossible.


Edited: Sep 24, 2012, 11:44pm Top

The Landmark edition of Herodotus, with its extensive maps, is one of my favourite history books. Very readable, absolutely fascinating and very highly recommended.

Edited: Sep 28, 2012, 8:35am Top

Thanks to all the posters who have praised and recommended the Landmark Herodotus Histories. It is indeed a magnificent edition, now in my hands, with which I plan to spend some wonderful times reading and browsing.
My Spanish edition is a dry version with just a few maps...

Sep 28, 2012, 1:29pm Top

The Landmark is the clear choice, designed to make the content accessible to the modern reader.

You might be interested to watch a lecture given by the fellow who conceived the Landmark series, explaining why it was considered necessary:

I only wish that they would expand the Landmark series to include Pausanias, Strabo and any number of other ancient geographies.

Sep 30, 2012, 12:15am Top

>10 Vesalius: Speaking of Strabo, is there anywhere to get this work besides Loeb?

Oct 2, 2012, 8:45am Top

Just acquired the 1992 FS Herodotus. I posted a picture of it in the group pictures.
It is every bit as gorgeous as it looks. I really love all the quarter leather (real or not) bindings the FS has done.
Aside from the Myths & Legends series, Le Goff's Medieval Civilization is another great one.
Does anyone know if they did a Thucydides in this style? Or any other Greek or Roman classics aside from Homer & Ovid?


Oct 2, 2012, 10:50am Top

> 12

Yes, they did produce a Thucydides in the same style (i.e. quarter leather/"leather" and cloth) in 1994. It uses the Benjamin Jowett translation of 1881 "because, whilst retaining an appropriate antiquarian character in its choice of idiom and construction, the scrupulous rendering of the text remains both clear and direct." A few "minor adjustments" have been made "to ensure a smooth and untroubled enjoyment of the narrative." The text has been edited and annotated by Chris Scarre, formerly of Cambridge, now a professor in the archaeology department of Durham University. He has also written the introduction. There is an index of names and a chronology of events during the Peloponnesian War. The illustrations are all black and white and consist of maps, plans, drawings and engravings of places, architecture, artifacts, etc.

Oct 2, 2012, 4:48pm Top

>13 boldface:

Thanks boldface. That's good to know. I find these quarter leather bindings from the 90's much more visually appealing than the more recent versions that are just plain, dark brown cloth all over. Very drab in my opinion.

Oct 2, 2012, 7:30pm Top

> 14

There's also an Aeneid (Dryden translation) from 1993.

Oct 3, 2012, 9:33am Top

>15 boldface:

B, you're killing me! Thanks again! Another hunt begins.....

Oct 3, 2012, 10:05am Top

>14 SaxonWarlord:
Herodotus, Thucydides, The Odyssey and the Ilyiad, The Aeneid and Metamorphoses were all pubished by FS and make a lovely matching set. I may have missed more of these, much discussion around all of these on older threads. Try a search to discover more.

Oct 3, 2012, 7:12pm Top

> 17

Nope, that's all of them, although the series metamorphosed into the Myths and Legends with Robert Graves' Greek Myths (so you could include that one if you wanted). Note that production problems meant the blue dye on the 'leather' quarter-binding of Metamorphoses and the Odyssey never quite dried.

Metamorphoses used the Penguin Classics translation by Mary Innes. Odyssey was later reprinted with a cloth spine, I think as part of Folio's 50th anniversary in 1997.

Edited: Oct 4, 2012, 4:07am Top

>18 housefulofpaper: The production problems did not affect all copies. My copies of both Metamorphoses and the Odyssey (which is green, not blue, and published in 1998) are perfectly satisfactory. Folio 60 has no mention of a cloth-spined Odyssey any later than the Frink-illustrated Rieu prose translation of 1974. (Edited to say: sorry, I overlooked the buckram-bound reprint of 2005. It was the Castaway's Choice promotion that it was part of.)

Oct 4, 2012, 8:12am Top

>18 housefulofpaper:
I bought my copies on the second hand market and had 2 with the leather stickiness problem you describe. I left the books out of their slipcases for a couple of weeks and they dried out perfectly.

Oct 4, 2012, 3:10pm Top

> 19 Thanks for the clarifications, and I'm glad your copies were OK.

> 20 My copy of Metamorphoses is still tacky at the edges, and the dye's marked the cloth sides, unfortunately.

Oct 5, 2012, 4:57pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Edited: Oct 6, 2012, 7:17am Top

>22 EclecticIndulgence: Here is a picture of the series from my library. It is not 100% complete. There are 20 in the series if you include the Irish Myths and Legends and this picture includes 16 titles from the series. Apologies for the poor lighting. The light in my reading room is (thankfully for the spines) quite poor.

The missing four titles are Herodotus's Histories (which is on my desk at work, as I was comparing translations earlier in this thread), Thucydides (which I have in the later 2006 binding, and don't feel I can justify another edition), The Legends of the Grail and Metamorphoses (neither of which I have found at a price I am prepared to pay!).

As for the Irish Myths and Legends, it is debatable whether it is really part of the series. The title and format (size, quarter-bound in leather) would suggest it is, but the spine design is clearly very different. It has some overlap with the Celtic Myths and Legends, but is a classic text in its own right rather than simply a collection of myths and legends, being Lady Augusta Gregory's ground-breaking title from 1904 (originally titled Gods and Fighting Men).

EDITED: To correct the fact that I am missing Legends of the Grail too.

Oct 6, 2012, 7:54am Top

>23 Conte_Mosca:


Here are the 'missing four' (webcam photo - apologies for poor quality).

Oct 7, 2012, 11:22am Top

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Oct 7, 2012, 2:35pm Top

> 25 Incredibly hard to find. I finally broke done and paid a premium price from Ardis because that was cheaper than buying the set which was one of the few ways I could find volume 2.

Oct 7, 2012, 3:32pm Top

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Oct 10, 2012, 4:04am Top

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Oct 10, 2012, 5:04am Top

Two days ago I found a "buy it now" copy for GBP 50 (approx. $80) from a British seller on ebay and ordered it at once. Seems to be a good deal.

Oct 12, 2012, 4:26pm Top

Make sure it's the correct volume. I once thought I had found a reasonably priced copy in France but it turned out to be volume 1 though advertised as volume 2.

Oct 12, 2012, 5:47pm Top

It must be the correct volume as the seller offered both volumes on abebooks and ebay with images of both volumes. I bought volume 2 at ebay to be sure to get it and ordered volume 1 from abebooks because it was a few pounds cheaper than his ebay offer.

Jan 27, 9:26pm Top

I think I’m getting the hang of this forum... instead of posting a new question to the board, a quick search reveals this subject has already been discussed at some length. In the spirit of LesMiserables, I’ll resurrect this old thread from many moons ago...

This is in the context of the LE survey. I have only read this (twice) in the de Selincourt translation and am curious whether any new developments have taken place in the last few years to change any of the above opinions. Is there a definitive translation worthy of LE treatment? One that combines readability with a faithful rendering of the original meaning? I’m a big fan of Pevear/Volokhonsky over Garnett, KJV over NIV, Screech over Florio etc.

P.s. this thread epitomises what I love about FAD. The best tangents, digressions and meanderings...!

Jan 28, 12:58pm Top

As I mentioned in the other thread, I think there is no other option than the Landmark edition. The sheer amount of resources for the modern reader to comprehend the geography, ethnology and culture of every single people mentioned in the Histories simply cannot be surpassed in my opinion.

As far as readability, I'm not the best person to ask. I've studied Greek and Latin for 4 years at university level, so I'm used to some pretty convoluted sentences. If anyone is interested I'll do a side by side (Greek and several translations) for the prooimion (first few lines).

Jan 29, 12:24am Top

>33 Fierylunar: yes please...!

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