October 23, 2014

Bryn Mawr Classical Review

By Richard Fontaine

In a field crowded with competitors it is a surprise to find a new prose version of Sophocles' three Oedipus plays. In the first paragraph of their preface the translators explain:

[T]here does not exist, and we see a classroom and scholarly need for, a translation that … provides the most literally exact reproduction of precisely what Sophocles wrote, as it has been transmitted to us in the best manuscripts, rendered in readily comprehensible, fluent English, especially for students and teachers and scholars who do not know Greek (or do not know Greek well), but who wish and need to study Sophocles with care.

This is an inauspicious start to a curious book. It is not immediately obvious that students today do lack good translations of Sophocles, but instead of expanding on the merits of their work, the rest of the preface is given over to an arraignment of everyexisting English translation of these three plays. We will come back to that below, but since the bulk of the book consists of the translations (and the three short introductions that precede them), let us turn to them first.

Read the full review at Bryn Mawr Classical Review.