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Why anachronistic translations of Homer's Iliad scare people off, Versus my modern translation of the Iliad, Book II, “The Catalogue of Ships”, lines 581-604

Here is my translation: Click to ENLARGE:

Iliad 2 The Catalogue of Ships  Lines 581-604
& here is the 1924 translation, which is even worse than the one of the previous post (lines 546-580). I have underlined the grossest anachronisms. Click to ENLARGE:

Iliad 2 581-604 Translation 1924


What does Homer’s Iliad, Book II, “The Catalogue of Ships” have to do with Linear B? Why bother translating just it, and not the rest of the Iliad?.

Homer. Iliad, Book II, “The Catalogue of Ships”, Lines 546-580 in Modern English Cf. Anachronistic Translation from 1924.

Some Really Fine Twenty-First Century Translations of Homer’s Iliad.

Some Really Fine Twenty-First Century Translations of Homer's Iliad

Be as it may, it is up to us in the early twenty-first century to rectify this pitiable state of affairs.

Here is at least one downloadable modern translation of the Iliad which really flies:

Homer Book I intro
You can download this translation in .PDF, Mobi, Epub, WORD or HTML here:

Homer - The Iliad - A new downloadable translation
Fortunately, there have been many truly fine translators of the Here are a few telling reviews of some of the best contemporary translations: click to READ

New Yorker

Library Thing
Take your choice.


My translation of  Homer. Iliad, Book II, “The Catalogue of Ships”, Lines 546-580 in Modern English: Click to ENLARGE

Iliad 2 546-580
Compare my translation in twenty-first century English with that of A.T. Murray 90 years ago (1924): Click to ENLARGE:

Iliad Catalogue of Ships 546 + 1924 
and you can instantly see the glaring discrepancies in the English of these two completely alien translations. Murray's translation from 1924 sounds uncannily like something Alexander Pope might have dryly penned in the eighteenth century! There really was no excuse for this, even in 1924, when people spoke an English very little removed from that we speak today. We can be pretty sure that the poor school children who were obliged to read the Iliad and Odyssey in that translation would probably not want to have anything more to do with either masterpiece for the rest of their lives. And who could have blamed them? But the Georgian mores of that era, still grudgingly hanging on in spite of the roaring twenties, prevailed, and to this day, far too many readers, young and old alike, end up in the ghastly grips of translations such as that one. God forbid! The most galling thing about it all is that The Perseus Digital Library


should know better. They have such a wealth of choice from modern translations, which they could easily have availed themselves of.

In the next post, we will be recommending some quality twenty-first century translations of the Iliad.


What does Homer’s Iliad, Book II, “The Catalogue of Ships” have to do with Linear B? Why bother translating just it, and not the rest of the Iliad?

Click to ENLARGE my translation of Homer. Iliad, Book II, “The Catalogue of Ships” lines 511-545:

Iliad 2 511-545
The Catalogue of Ships (lines 459-815) in Book II of the Iliad is the most reliable source for regressive extrapolation and derivation of archaic Greek vocabulary progressively extrapolated into equivalent Attested (A) or Derived (D) Mycenaean Greek vocabulary, next to the archaic Arcado-Cypriot dialect, in which several documents were written in the Linear C syllabary, the close cousin of Linear B. These include the famous “Idalion Tablet”, a decree from Stasicypros, king of Idalion in Cyprus, on behalf of a physician, Onesilos, and his brothers, whom the king and the city promises to pay medical fees for the treatment of the wounded after the siege of Idalion by the Medes (478 and 470 BC). (Bronze plaque engraved on both faces with a Cyprian inscription at the Cabinet des médailles, Paris, France.)

But it isn’t just the Linear B and Linear C scripts which stand hand in hand. The Mycenaean Greek and Arcado-Greek dialects, both very ancient, are even more closely allied than Ionic is to Attic Greek. The implications are clear. Any time we, as linguists specializing in the translation of Linear B tablets and sources, wish to verify the authenticity of our translations, the best source for such verification lies in tablets and documents in Arcado-Cypriot, whether these are written in Linear C or in the Arcado-Cypriot Greek alphabet itself (which is not quite identical to the Classical Greek alphabet).

Following hard on the heels of Arcado-Cypriot is the archaic Greek of Homer’s Iliad, and above all, that of “The Catalogue of Ships” itself in Book II. It is precisely in this passage alone that we find the most archaic Greek in the entire Iliad. So we, as translators, should rely on “The Catalogue of Ships” more than the rest of the Iliad as the second choice after Arcado-Cypriot for the regressive-progressive extrapolation of Mycenaean Greek words, Attested (A) or Derived (D).

Since a great many Attested (A) words in Mycenaean Greek often call for or even require some reliable source(s) for Derived (D) variations, the significance of Derived (D) Mycenaean Greek vocabulary in the Linear B script should not be underestimated. Conjugational forms of verbs and declensional of nouns missing from Linear B tablets cannot be reliably extrapolated unless we can find some dependable source to do just that. This is precisely the reason why I intend to resort to both Arcado-Cypriot sources in Linear C and in alphabetic Greek, and to “The Catalogue of Ships” in particular in Book I of the Iliad for the purpose of reconstructing “missing” Derived (D) vocabulary, for which certain forms are Attested (A). Why would I want to do that? With the assistance of my research colleague, Rita Roberts, who lives near Heraklion, Crete, I intend to publish a Topical English – Mycenaean Greek Linear B Lexicon sometime between 2016 and 2018, which will account not only for all of the currently Attested (A) vocabulary in Mycenaean Greek, but which will also include a great deal of Derived (D) vocabulary based on the principles I have just mentioned. And more besides. I have in mind the goal of at least doubling the currently Attested (A) Mycenaean vocabulary of some 2,500 words to at least 5,000.

And that is why it is imperative for me to translate in its entirety “The Catalogue of Ships” itself in Book II of Homers Iliad.

NOTE: to read my previous translations of Homers Iliad on our blog, scroll to the top of the page, and click on “ILIAD: Book II”.   


The Suitability of Mycenaean Linear B, Classic & Acrophonic Greek, Hebrew and Latin Numeric Systems for Calculation

Here is the Mycenaean Linear B numeric system (A:) Click to ENLARGE

Mycenaean Linear B Numerics
Here are the 2 ancient Greek numeric systems, the so-called Classical (BA:) and the (CA:) Acrophonic, side by side: Click to ENLARGE

Classic Greek & Acrophonic Numerals
This table compares the relative numeric values of the so-called Classical Greek numeric (BA:) & the Hebrew numeric (BB:) systems, which are strikingly similar: Click to ENLARGE 

Greek & Hebrew Numerals

Finally, we have the Latin numeric system (CB:) Click to ENLARGE

L Latin Numerics

The question is, which of these 5 numeric systems is the the most practical in its application to the (a) basic process of counting numbers, (b) to accounting and inventory or (c) geometry & (d) algebra? Let's briefly examine each of them in turn for their relative merits based on these criteria. We can take the Classical Greek & Hebrew numeric systems together, since they are patently based on the same principle, the application of letters of the alphabet to counting. For the same reason, it is expedient to lump the Acrophonic Greek & Latin systems together. There are other ways of classifying each of these systems, but for our purposes, and for the sake of clarity and consistence, we have opted for this approach.

A: the Mycenaean Linear B numeric system:

Merits: well suited to accounting and inventory; possibly suited to geometry, but only in limited contexts, though never used for that purpose
Demerits: space-consuming, discursive; totally unsuitable for algebra. While their numeric system seems never to have been applied to geometry, the Minoans and Mycenaeans who relied on this system were, of course, not only familiar with but adept in geometry, as is attested by their elegant streamlined rectilinear & circular architecture. We must also keep firmly in mind the point that the Minoan scribes never intended to put the Mycenaean Linear B numeric accounting system to use for algebra, for the obvious reason that algebra as such had not yet been invented. But we mustn’t run away with ourselves on this account, either with the Mycenaean system or with any of the others which follow, because if we do, we seriously risk compromising ourselves in our own “modern” cultural biases & mind-sets. That is something I am unwilling to do.    

B = (BA:+BB:) the Classical Greek & Hebrew numeric systems: 

Merits: well-suited to both geometric and algebraic notation & possibly even to basic counting.
Demerits: possibly unsuitable for counting, but that depends entirely on one's cultural perspective or bias. Who is to say that the modern Arabic system of counting (0...9) is in any way inherently superior to either the Classical Greek or Hebrew numeric systems? Upon what theoretical or practical basis can such a claim be made? After all, the Arabic numerals, universally adopted for counting purposes in the modern world, were simply adopted in the Middle Ages as an expedient, since they fitted seamlessly with the Latin alphabet. Nowadays, regardless of script (alphabet, syllabary or oriental) everyone uses Arabic numerals for one obvious reason. It is expedient. But is it any better than the Classical Greek & Hebrew numeric systems? I am quite sure that any ancient Greek or Hebrew, if confronted with our modern Arabic system of numerics, would probably claim that ours is no better than theirs. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

However, in one sense, the modern Arabic numeric notation is probably “superior”. It is far less discursive. While the ancient Greeks  & Hebrews applied their alphabets in their entirety to counting, geometry and algebra, the Arabic numerals require only 10 digits. On the other hand, modern Arabic numerals cannot strictly be used for algebra or geometry unless they are combined with alphabetic notation. The Classical Greek alphabetic numeric system has been universally adopted for these purposes, as well as for the ease of application they bring to calculus and other complex modern systems such as Linear A, B & C, which have nothing whatsoever in common with the ancient Minoan Linear A, Mycenaean Linear B or Arcado-Cypriot Linear C syllabaries, except their names.  Regardless, it is quite apparent at this point that the whole question of which numeric system is supposedly “superior” to the others is beginning to get mired down in academic quibbling over cultural assumptions and other such factors. So I shall let it rest.  

C = (CA:+CB:) the Acrophonic Greek & Latin numeric systems:

Before we can properly analyze the relative merits of these two systems, which in principle are based on the same approach, we are obliged to separate them from one another for the obvious reason that one (the Acrophonic Greek) is much less discursive than the other (the Latin). Looking back through the lens of history, it almost seems as if the Athenian Greeks took this approach just so far, and no further, for fear of it becoming much too cluttered for their taste. After all, the ancient Greeks, and especially the Athenians, were characterized by their all-but obsessive adherence to “the golden mean”. They did not like overdoing it. The Romans, however, did not seem much concerned at all with that guiding principle, taking their own numeric system to such lengths (and I mean this literally) that it became outrageously discursive and, in a nutshell, clumsy. Why the Romans, who were so eminently practical and such great engineers, would have adopted such a system, is quite beyond me. But then again, I am no Roman, and my own cultural bias has once again raised its ugly head.     

CA: Greek Acrophonic
Merits: well-suited to both geometric and algebraic notation & possibly even to basic counting.
Demerits: See alphabetic Classical Greek & Hebrew systems above (BA:+BB:)

CB: Latin
Merits: easy for a Roman to read, but probably for no one else.
Demerits: extremely discursive and awkward.  Useless for geometric or algebraic notation.

This cartoon composite neatly encapsulates the dazzling complexity of the Latin numeric system. Click to ENLARGE:

Composite 4 Cartoons Roman numerals 


MEDIA Linear B Tablet, Heraklion Archaeological Museum, List of Men Including the “Basileus” or Viceroy: Click to ENLARGE

Heraklion Archaeological Museum tablet wanaka qasiereu viceroy

This magnificent photograph was taken by my colleague and fellow Linear B researcher, Rita Roberts, who actually lives in Heraklion, Crete, only five kilometres from Knossos. Rita is also a retired archaeologist who worked for years with pottery and other precious Minoan findings at the site of Knossos. I am so very fortunate to have her as my colleague. She and I have been working together for at least 15 months, almost since the founding of this great Linear B blog 20 months ago. In spite of our recent advent on the scene, our blog is now the second largest of its kind on the Internet, with the blog, Linear B Syllabary – the ancient script of Crete – Omniglot, the only one ahead of us. To visit Omniglot, Linear B, click here:


A general search on “Mycenaean Linear B” finds us several times on just the first two pages. I would like to make it absolutely clear that, in the field of linguistic research into Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C in particular we leave no stone unturned. We will go to any lengths to unearth absolutely every scrap of evidence, every instance of new research and insights into these scripts and all related matters. So if you are looking for a clearinghouse on “everything you ever wanted to know about Linear B, but were afraid to ask”, you have just found it.

Our Twitter account, Knossos KO NO SO, is the only Twitter page on the entire Internet focusing specifically on Mycenaean Linear B, undeciphered Minoan Linear A & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, as well as on related areas of historical significance such as The Catalogue of Ships in Book II of Homer’s Iliad, archaic Greek dialects, Classical Ionic & Attic Greek, the Twitter account of Henry George Liddell Scott, and others like these. If you wish to follow us on Twitter, click HERE:

Twitter Konoso Knossos vallance22

We have a New Menu Category,! For photos, films, images, maps etc. from the Web   

We have just added the new MENU Category,! to our blog, as illustrated here. You can immediately jump to our! Posts by clicking here:

MENUS Scoopit

We are now on! where we post photos, videos, films and images from all over the Internet: Click on its banner to go to our page,! serves as our alternate site where you can find  photos, videos, films, maps and images from all over the Internet which would take up too much space here on our blog. So if you are truly interested in Mycenaean Linear B, pre-Mycenaean Minoan civilization & Linear A, Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, Homer's Iliad, archaic Greek dialects or anything else relevant to our own research concerns, you should visit our!



Rita Roberts' Translation of Pylos Tablet AE 08, Slaves serving the priestess in charge of sacred gold: Click to ENLARGE

Pylos Tabet AE 08 Sacred gold at Pylos
Rita and I had our very first SKYPE teacher-student session just a few days ago. What a delight it was to finally meet my star student face to face! She is as charming as I always imagined she would be. Our classroom session lasted almost 1 1/2 hours! Rita learned a great deal more about the niceties of translating Linear B tablets, I enjoyed the teaching experience as much as she did the learning.



THIS is SUPREMELY important to lovers of ancient Greek literature! Sappho is probably the greatest female lyric poet in all of history. I am delighted with this find! Richard

Originally posted on Ritaroberts's Blog:

See on Scoop.itArchaeology

Today, only few poems by ancient Greek poetess Sappho survive, but thanks to new findings, two new works have been recovered, giving experts hope to find more.

See on

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Those unusual Minoan incense burners Richard

Originally posted on Ritaroberts's Blog:

It has been sometime since two of our dear friends Gracia and Pete came to spend a holiday with us, not only to visit but to track down and photograph the Rock Rose of Crete in its natural habitat.The Rock Rose produces Labdanum,an aromatic substance sometimes used in incense and perfume.

Gracia and Pete trade in incense resins sometimes travelling to far off countries to obtain many of these exotic items such as frank’ incense and gods smile. They took their wonderful aroma’s and sold them at the Re-enactors markets where we met them many years ago, We were then trading as Apicius Sauces made from original roman recipes.

While Gracia and Pete were holidaying with us in 2006 they visited the Agios Nikolaos museum in Crete where to their amazement they observed more incense burners than they had ever seen in a single exhibition.They were intrigued by the fact  there were some very unusual burners they had…

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A Lost Civilisation


This is a MUST READ for everyone and anyone who has the slightest interest in Minoan civilization. Richard

Originally posted on Ritaroberts's Blog:

As an archaeologist  the story of Arthur Evans excavation at the great Palace of Knossos fascinated me. It  was only when I came to live in Crete to work on Minoan pottery that my attention was drawn to the Clay tablets which featured Linear B script which Sir Arthur had discovered.

Sir Arthur Evans at Knossos in l907

Sir Arthur Evans

These tablets, around 800 or more, some found as fragments and  some whole,  tell us so much about a lost civilization. It wasn’t until I began learning to read and write these ancient scripts “still learning” ,that I realized the huge task which Arthur Evans had ahead of him in trying to decipher the writings upon the tablets, the strain on his eyes must have been enormous. However, Arthur Evans was not able to crack the code but he did lay the ground for Michael Ventris who eventually deciphered the tablets in l953. Actually, this was the very year I got married but did not know…

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MEDIA Post: New MENU Category, MEDIA for images, videos & films on our blog...  

Linear B Knossos & Mycenae MENUS 01122014
We have just added a new MENU Category, MEDIA, where you will find all archived posts which are primarily in media format: images, videos & films. Images and videos dealing specifically with Knossos & Mycenae are usually not in this MENU, but in their own, also illustrated here:

Thank you



Yes, this is definitely true, and something I should now to proceed to investigate further, since my own personal mythology often disturbs me. Richard

Originally posted on Magick From Scratch:

Most people, whether they know it or not, have a personal mythology. Usually, it’s pretty pedestrian. We take the randomness that is our life, and we spin it into a cohesive narrative. The actual facts might suffer, but the overall story gives you a really clear picture of how a person sees themselves, and what’s important to them. I find myself falling into this trap when explaining my career, actually. People ask me:  Why did I quit my job as a school teacher? Answer One:

Oh, well, I have always wanted to be a writer, and my husband finally makes enough money now that I don’t have to work.

Answer Two:

I got into education so that I could improve the field by bringing modern teaching methods into our schools. But the truth the matter is that the system…

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You learn something new every day. I was never aware of this avatar of Hekate, but it certainly makes sense. Richard

Originally posted on La Audacia de Aquiles:

►Greek Mythology: “Hecate, Goddess of Crossroads”:

►Literature: D.G. Kaye’s New Book: “Words We Carry”:


Hecate by Richard Cosway. Pen and brown ink with traces of graphite underdrawing.

“Hecate” by Richard Cosway. Pen and brown ink with traces of graphite underdrawing. Early 19th century.



Hecate ( In Greek“influence from afar”) was the Goddess of  Crossroads, Magic, Witchcraft, The Night, Ghosts and Necromancy. 

According to the most common tradition, Hecate was a daughter of Persaeus and Asteria, whence she is also known as Perseis. Hecate’s Roman equivalent was Trivia.

She was most often shown holding two torches or a key and in later periods depicted in triple form.

Hecate has always been a deity with strong lunar associations.

She was sometimes portrayed as wearing a glowing headdress of stars, while in other legends she was described as a “Phosphorescent Angel” of the Underworld.

Hecate was associated with borders, city walls, doorways, crossroads and, by extension, with realms outside or beyond the…

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Remembrance Day has passed, but we must NEVER forget, especially these days as DAESH ISIS spreads its vile hatred throughout the Middle East, butchering 10s of thousands of innocent souls. Richard

Originally posted on Sententiae Antiquae:

Simonides, Epigram (Greek Anthology,7.249): An Epitaph at Thermopylae

“Stranger, go tell the Spartans that we lie here
obedient to their commands.”

Ω ξεῖν’, ἀγγέλλειν Λακεδαιμονίοις, ὅτι τῇδε
κείμεθα τοῖς κείνων ῥήμασι πειθόμενοι.

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Well, I for one am NOT so sure about that! Look what happened in the 1930s when people around the world took neither Hitler nor the Japanese seriously. This MAY happen all over now with DAESH ISIS, dread the thought! Richard

Originally posted on Sententiae Antiquae:

“But let us hurry home, since it is far better to escape dreadful-sounding war than to die.”

ἡμεῖς δ’ αἶψα νεώμεθ’, ἐπεὶ πολὺ λώιόν ἐστιν

ἐκφυγέειν πολέμοιο δυσηχέος ἢ ἀπολέσθαι.

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φιλοσοφοῦμεν γνησίως τε καὶ ἱκανῶς

φιλοσοφίας μὲν ἔργον νοῦν ἡμᾶς ποιῆσαι, θεουργίας δὲ ἑνῶσαι ἡμᾶς τοῖς νοητοῖς

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