Tales of Dionysus

The Dionysiaca of Nonnus of Panopolis
Edited by William Levitan and Stanley Lombardo
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.

Praise / Awards

  • “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, Laboratoire Histoire et Sources des Mondes Antiques, Lyon

  • "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 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."

News, Reviews, Interviews

Read: Interview with Stanley Lombardo for the University of Kansas News | 10/03/22 | Link to Read

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 816pp.
  • 1 illustration.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2022
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-13311-6

Add to Cart
  • $90.00 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2022
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-03896-1

Add to Cart
  • $39.95 U.S.

Related Products



  • Nonnus; Nonnos; Dionysiaca; epic; epic poetry; ancient epic poetry; late antique; late antique poetry; late antique literature; late classical poetry; late classical literature; Greek poetry; Greek epic; ancient Greek literature; ancient Greek poetry; ancient Greek epic; longest epic poem in Greek; longest poem in Greek; longest poem in ancient Greek; myth; mythology; Greek myth; Greek mythology; ancient Greek myth/mythology; Dionysus; Dionysos; Bacchus; translation; verse translation; literary translation; classical translation; poetry in translation; ancient poetry in translation; classical poetry in translation; Greek poetry in translation; epic poetry in translation