The first English verse translation of the Dionysiaca of Nonnus of Panopolis
Tales of Dionysus is the first English verse translation of one of the most extraordinary poems of the Greek literary tradition, the Dionysiaca of Nonnus of Panopolis. By any standard, the Dionysiaca is a formidable work. It is by far the longest poem surviving from the classical world, a massive mythological epic stretching to over 20,000 lines, written in the tradition of Homer, using Homer’s verse, Homer’s language, his narrative turns and motifs, and invoking his ancient Muses. But it is also the last ancient epic to follow a Homeric model, composed so late in fact that it stands as close in time to the Renaissance as it does to archaic Greece. Like its titular hero, Dionysus, with his fluidity of forms, names, and divine incarnations, the poem itself is continually shifting shape. Out of its formal epic frame spills a tumult of ancient literary types: tragedy, elegy, didactic, panegyric, pastoral idyll, and the novel are all parts of this gigantic enterprise, each genre coming to the fore one after the other.
Tales of Dionysus brings together forty-two translators from a wide range of backgrounds, with different experiences and different potential relationships to the text of Nonnus’ poem. All work in their own styles and with their own individual approaches to the poem, to translation, and to poetic form. This variety turns Tales of Dionysus into a showcase of the multiple possibilities open to classical translation in the contemporary world.
William Levitan is Professor of Classics Emeritus at Grand Valley State University.
Stanley Lombardo is Professor Emeritus of Classics at The University of Kansas.
“This innovative translation also offers a renewed vision of Nonnus’ very innovative work. It may also open late Greek poetry to a larger audience.”- Christophe Cusset
—Christophe Cusset, Laboratoire Histoire et Sources des Mondes Antiques, Lyon
“This is an excellent project, one that may bring a long-deserved audience to one of the great poets of the Greek world.”- Benjamin Acosta-Hughes
—Benjamin Acosta-Hughes, The Ohio State University
"Nonnus and Dionysus have given new zest to my thoughts about Greek literature and ancient mythology. . . . To all involved – editors, contributors including Douglass Parker, publishers. . . – Bravo."- Penelope Wilson
—Penelope Wilson in Translation and Literature
"Levitan (Grand Valley State Univ.) and Lombardo (Univ. of Kansas) succeed in their aims of making the Dionysiaca more accessible and of illustrating the varied options available in modern translation practice."- S. E. Goins, McNeese State University
"[T]he Dionysiaca is made of 48 books, written in a convoluted and constantly changing style, supercharged with long compound adjectives, most of which have no obvious equivalent in modern languages. Tales of Dionysus is therefore a welcome addition to our libraries, and an original one."- Laura Miguélez-Cavero, Complutense University of Madrid
—Bryn Mawr Classical Review