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The Homeric Hymns (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 13 Nov 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (13 Nov. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199554757
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199554751
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 1.8 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 346,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


This welcome new translation of the Homeric Hymns offers a skilled and nuanced verse rendering that is accompanied by intelligent and helpful notes. The introductory material is brief; the end-notes more thorough yet always concise; throughout there is frequent and up-to-date reference to important bibliography on the hymns. Readers should find the translation poetic and often striking, and they will also come away with a firm sense of modern scholarship on these short epic works. (Journal of Hellenic Studies)

About the Author

Head of Classics, Alexandra College, Dublin. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J Llewellyn on 28 Feb. 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Of the four recent English-language Homeric Hymns translations I found Michael Crudden's OUP work the most thorough introduction, both in terms of attention to textual detail and general airing of backstories for those not so much in the know.

To begin, his introduction places the hymns firmly within their context, following the epic poems of Homer and Hesiod, preceding the more definitely literary works of the 5th and 4th centuries BC. He gives a brief sketch of the Hymns structural coherence, a legacy of their epic ancestors, before going on to summarise the four major Hymns themselves (those to Demeter, Aphrodite, Apollo and Hermes) and is happy enough leaving subtleties to the very full explanatory notes and glossary at the back. The select bibliography, whilst including all the important references I've used, are mostly obscure journal articles and there is not nearly enough of the general interest reference so helpful in the Rayor (2004) edition.

The poems themselves have been translated into fixed hexameter verse, which Crudden justifies saying, "...certain words and expression were not available to the Greek poets due to the unyielding demands of their metres, and verse translators should operate under similar constraints." For some, this works; read the Bryn Mawr Classical Review for this edition and you'll find the remark, "The author's strength is in the sheer beauty of his translation", yet for me clarity of sense and evocation is worth more and Crudden fails here in comparison to Cashford's (2003) free verse. Consider here a detail from Hymn 21 to Apollo:

Cashford: `And it is of you

The poet sings,

Speaking sweetly

To his clear-voiced lyre.
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By John on 8 Sept. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent translation with very useful notes.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Petrides Antonis on 13 Sept. 2004
Format: Hardcover
Crudden's book provides an excellent translation of a kind of literature not easy to translate avoiding tediousness and idle repetition. His translation is accompanied by helpful exegetical notes, an indispensable glossary of Greek mythological references and other terms, as well as representative bibliography for further research. The only glitch of the book is the introduction, which fails to bring out the uniqueness, literary merit and cultural significance of the Hymns. For this consult Jenny Strauss Clay's, The politics of Olympus. All in all, this is a good attempt to propagate this material to a wider audience. Having said that, however, it is obvious that OUP's ridiculous price gives the mickey to Crudden's whole project.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Ian Myles Slater on: Wonderful Use of English 20 July 2012
By Ian M. Slater - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
I had intended to review Michael Crudden's excellent translation of "The Homeric Hymns" for the Oxford World's Classics back when I was reviewing a whole set of modern translations in 2003-2004 (Athanassakis, Cashford, Rayor, West), but, if memory serves, by the time I reached it, one of my other Homeric Hymns reviews was already attached to the title by Amazon, as was the case with the the very different, but also excellent, Shelmerdine translation. ((Or, I just never found the time to review it before I stopped reviewing in general). However that worked out, the Kindle edition of the Crudden translation is currently open to my postings, so -- better late than never. In this case, I plan to say a little less about the hymns themselves (which I've covered elsewhere), to focus on the translation.

The "Homeric" hymns are a miscellaneous collection of 33 poems, differing in terms of age and likely function; what they have in common are the Greek gods who are their subject, and the epic hexameter used in the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Hesiodic poems, and some lesser-known works.

The poems are assigned to Homer in a manuscript tradition which also includes supposed works of the mythical poet Orpheus, which for starters does not inspire confidence in the attribution to the legendary singer of epics. They appear with clearly Hellenistic and later literary hymns by the historical figures Callimachus and Proclus, which may be clue to the circumstances of their compilation in an anthology.

The "Homeric" songs range from the reverential (the Hymn to Demeter, #2) to the humorous (the first Hymn to Hermes, #4, and the Hymn to Pan, #19) in tone, and the contents are variously lyric and narrative. The long hymns at the opening of the collection (fragments to Dionysos, Demeter, either one very long or two long hymns to Apollo of Delos and Apollo of Delphi, Hermes and Aphrodite) are of considerable importance to our knowledge of Greek myth, and possibly religion, but the following shorter hymns have a value of their own. Some are charming, and some are informative, or both. A few are perhaps more interesting as examples of the meter and form than they are as poems.

The standard description as "hymns" is in some cases problematic (and in the past it has attracted listings of Christian hymnals to some of the Amazon sites for other translations!). They can be characterized as praise-songs of the gods and goddesses. However, at least some of the shorter works seem to have been intended simply as introductory invocations to the gods at public performances of other works, including the Homeric epics. In these cases, despite their religious nature, I agree with the Classicists who argue that "proem" is probably the better term.

Predictably, I prefer Crudden's translation in some places, other translations at other points. His translation is slightly more formal than others, but it is clear, if to my tastes occasionally long-winded. He clearly has paid attention to the rhetoric of the poems, and the possibilities of personal uses of the epic meter -- which these days is widely considered the impersonal (and improvisational) product of the oral formulaic technique. This approach makes sense, since even the longest of these poems is probably short enough to have been polished as a set-piece, rather than reworked for every recitation.

On the other hand, it does not give consistent attention to narrative techniques in the longer hymns, where Shelmerdine's commentary (in headnotes and footnotes) is outstanding.

There are introductions, introductions and end-notes to some of the other recent translations (those of Athanassakis, Cashford, and Rayor come to mind). Crudden provides a thick set of notes (pages 93 to 146; much less distracting than Shelmerdine's intriguing footnotes!), but he also tucks away a lot of useful information in the thirteen small-print pages of the "Glossary of Names," which doubles as a character index to the volume. (The latter function can be replaced by the Kindle Search Engine -- as long as you can remember the name you want, and how to spell it!)

Despite the small print and unexciting format, it is worth consulting the Glossary frequently. For example, so far as I can recall, he is there the only recent translator to deal with the epithet of Themis (goddess of Custom and Law) as "Ikhnaian." He explains that it might refer to an otherwise undocumented cult in the town of Ikhnai, or be a characterization of "Law" from the common noun "tracker." (I prefer the second option, but, alas, can't help thinking of a goddess with a deerstalker and pipe, saying "Quick, Nemesis, the game's afoot!" Wrong mythology, of course.....)
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Okay book. Had to read for college class. 30 April 2015
By colton rock - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Okay book. Had to read for college class.
2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Absolutely Wonderful! 6 Nov. 2013
By iceangel13 - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Absolutely wonderful! I found the translations to be lovely and it helped inspire me to write some of my own prayers and devotionals to the Greek Gods.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
great shape 27 Feb. 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I give this book 4 stars because the price was reasonable and it was in great condition. I had to get it for school so I wouldn't say I'm enjoying it but everything else about it was great upon arrival.
1 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Great! 28 April 2008
By kiwiqueen42 - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is a great read; highly recommend it if you are interested in this sort of topic.
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