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What's the best English translation of Herodotus?

What's the best English translation of Herodotus?

Postby Karkaett » Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:08 pm

I tried searching for previous threads about this but didn't find them.

Thanks
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Re: What's the best English translation of Herodotus?

Postby Paul Derouda » Sun Nov 12, 2017 12:37 pm

I have sampled quite a few of them, so I'll give my personal opinion. English isn't my native language, so I'm not too good at judging stylistic questions; I rather concentrate on accuracy and readability.

I'd say clearly the best translation overall is Robin Waterfield's (I don't intend to promote Amazon, just show you the book I mean). It's a not-too-literal paraphrase of the Greek text that reproduces very faithfully the meaning but not the form of the Greek. As such, it's of course not very useful as a crib for reading the original. Some people apparently don't like the way Waterfield has cut up Herodotus' long, elaborate sentences into short ones in English, but to get an adequate idea of what Herodotus really wants to say I think this is clearly the best option. The accompanying notes by Carolyn Dewald are good but rather advanced.

The Landmark Herodotus can be recommended for all the additional material it contains (mostly essays, the footnotes aren't that good), including a LOT of maps (perhaps too many). The translation is very readable but has quite a few inaccuracies.

Pamela Mensch's translation with James Romm's introduction and notes. The translation is a bit dull, more accurate than the Landmark edition but less so than Waterfield's, and more literal than either (the literal translation isn't always the most accurate!). I'd mostly recommend this edition for someone who finds Dewald's notes and introduction in Waterfield's translation too long and advanced (say, perhaps, high school students). Romm's unpretentious introduction and notes are aimed at someone who doesn't know much about antiquity and do the job well without making things simpler than they really are. There are lots of notes to the text, but they are short and to the point.

For a crib to help with the Greek, I'd recommend Enoch Powell's translation, which might be hard to come by, and failing that, the Loeb. These translations are, in my opinion, worthless unless you read them with the Greek. Especially Powell's, which is written in an archaizing thee-and-thou lingo, but is excellent help in trying to decipher the Greek original.

There's a new translation by Tom Holland, which was apparently made for teenagers who find reading boring, or perhaps with the general premise that reading is boring. A reviewer has said that this translation tries to sex up Herodotus (or something like that) and I agree. I don't recommend this for anyone who seriously wants to get an idea of Herodotus, there are just too many inaccuracies. You can find several reviews by googling, at least one of them being surprisingly positive.

Aubrey de Selincourt's translation from the 1950's has similar aims as Tom Holland's, but is rather more successful. It's not very accurate but it's nice to read.

Of the older translations, Macauley from the 19th century still has its place.
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Re: What's the best English translation of Herodotus?

Postby Karkaett » Tue Nov 14, 2017 3:43 am

Thank you!
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