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Robert Fagles, acclaimed translator of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and other literary classics, will deliver a public talk at Lafayette College at 8 p.m., Wednesday, September 8, in the Williams Center for the Arts.

Fagles will read from his award-winning 1996 translation of the Odyssey, which was this summer’s common reading assignment for Lafayette’s incoming first-year students, and will also speak on the work’s relevance to modern society. The presentation is free and open to the public, and guests are invited to meet Fagles at a reception following his talk.

Fagles will also speak with students in an informal discussion at 3 p.m. in Williams Center room 108. The students used modern technology to enhance their experience of the 2,700 year-old Odyssey, sharing questions and comments in a “virtual classroom” on a special Lafayette Website (

Fagles is Lafayette’s 1999 Thomas Roy and Lura Forrest Jones Visiting Lecturer. The Jones Lectureship has brought many distinguished speakers to Lafayette, including Derek Walcott, Ursula LeGuin, Henry Louis Gates, and, last year, Stephen Pinker.

Fagles is Princeton’s Arthur W. Marks ’19 Professor of Comparative Literature. He received a 1996 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for his Odyssey and several awards for his translation of the Iliad, including the 1991 Harold Morton Landon Translation Award by the Academy of American Poets. His other acclaimed translations include Sophocles’ Three Theban Plays and Aeschylus’ Oresteia, nominated for a National Book Award in 1977.

In addition to Fagles’ appearance, several other activities centering on the Odyssey are scheduled this fall as part of Lafayette’s semester-long 1999 Roethke Humanities Festival, which is titled “Modern Appropriations of Homer’s Odyssey.” These include two installations in the Williams Center gallery, “The Parthenon Project,” which opens September 14, and “Journeys,” which opens October 24. Aquila Theatre of London will stage the Iliad at the Williams Center November 13, and the company’s artistic director, Robert Richmond, will deliver a talk on “Homer’s Epics for the Modern Theater.” There also will be a modern dance performance based on James Joyce’s Ulysses by Philadelphia’s Headlong Dance Company and a feminist reading of the Odyssey by Peggy Phelan of New York University.

Held every two years, the Roethke Festival is named for Theodore Roethke (1908-63), a former Lafayette faculty member and noted poet of the 1940s and ’50s. Roethke published several critically acclaimed volumes of poetry, including The Waking, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1954.

For additional information about Fagles’ presentations or other Roethke Festival events, please call the cultural program office at 610-330-5010.

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