Translating a Classic Analytical Essay by Waverly

Translating a Classic
An analysis of Seamus Heaney's translation of "Antigone", titled "The Burial at Thebes".
# 147556 | 1,848 words | 3 sources | MLA | 2011 | US

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This paper explores the process and result of translating a classic for modern audiences using Seamus Heaney's translation of "Antigone", titled "The Burial at Thebes". The paper demonstrates how Heaney's use of language in "The Burial at Thebes" modernizes Sophocles' "Antigone", thus creating a play that is more captivating than traditional translations and easier for the audience to internalize. The paper also notes the powerful imagery and modern political references in "The Burial at Thebes".

From the Paper:

"Translating a Greek tragedy is difficult. In Watling's introduction, he says, "The problem of finding English substitutes for Greek idiom and terminology is difficult enough in prose, more difficult in verse, and most difficult of all in drama" (16). These translations are necessary, however, to keep the stories alive. One obvious reason is that most of society does not understand ancient Greek, so they simply could not read it as is. But even if everyone could transcribe the original Antigone, its literal word-for-word translation would be almost meaningless. It takes a talented writer to interpret the text and rewrite it in a way that reads easily to modern audiences."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Heaney, Seamus. "The Jayne Lecture: Title Deeds: Translating a Classic." Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society. 148.4 (2004): 411-26. Print.
  • Heaney, Seamus. The Burial at Thebes A Version of Antigone. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004. Print.
  • Watling, Edward. Sophocles The Theban Plays. London, England: Penguin Group, 1974. Print.

Cite this Analytical Essay:

APA Format

Translating a Classic (2011, May 12) Retrieved June 17, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Translating a Classic" 12 May 2011. Web. 17 June. 2021. <>