I was very glad to see Emma Gee raise the issue of the translation of Classics and its scholarly nature and potential to engage the public (“Classics’ elitism should be lost in translation”, 17 March). And yet, the vast majority of Greek and Latin literature does not exist in any modern language. It is inaccessible to nearly everyone. One need merely think of the 300 volumes of the Patrologia Graeca and Latina. Then there are languages such as classical Armenian, Syriac, Christian Arabic – all full of material that might be of use, and very little of which exists in English.
We need to change the structure of research funding such that creating the first English translation of some text is itself worth funding. We don’t need a 2,999th version of the Iliad or the Odyssey; we do need the very first version of most ancient texts.