Who translated the Iliad or the Odyssey to Latin first?

  • Who was the first person to translate part or all of Homer's works, the Iliad and/or the Odyssey, to Latin? Have these translations survived to current times?

    My original motivation for the question is the following: Devecseri Gábor has written an epistle about the art of poetic translation addressed to Horace, the ancient Roman poet. From this, it seems like Devecseri considered Horace (as well as Babits Mihály) his master and role model in poetry and translation. I had mistakenly assumed that this was because Horace also translated the Homeric epics, but it turns out this was a false assumption.

  • b_jonas

    b_jonas Correct answer

    7 years ago

    I have asked this question on the English Wikipedia Reference Desk a few months ago. This answer contains a copy of the answers volunteered there.

    Livius Andronicus (c. 284 – c. 204 BC) was possibly the first who translated the Odyssey into Latin, but his translation has not survived. There have been many Latin translations of Homer over the centuries, but the oldest surviving seems to be by Leontius Pilatus (died 1366): see catalog entry of a modern publication of that translation. [This answer contributed by Lindert.]

    Educated Romans read Homer in the original Greek, so I'm not sure there was great demand for a written literary translation into Latin. There was the Ilias Latina, which was kind of "downmarket" (not a full translation, and not very literary). [This answer contributed by AnonMoos.]

    Attius Labeo was renowned for the badness of his translations of Homer, so there was clearly a market. [Comment by Paul Barlow.]

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM