The question of how best to translate is both important and complex and has, unsurprisingly, been argued over for quite some time.
Generally the discussion takes place between two poles. On the one hand you have translations that try to communicate the sense of what is being said to a culture unfamiliar with those things that would have been understood like second nature to the original audience itself. See, for example, Amy Richlin's Rome and the Mysterious Orient which completely ignores the restrictions of literal translation and instead attempts to translate the three plays in question into a form that a modern American audience would understand as the Roman audience understood the original.
For example offensive Roman stereotypes are replaced with offensive American stereotypes of roughly equivalent value.
On the other hand you have the translation that tries to say exactly what the original text was literally saying, word for word if possible, and gives up on any hope of a modern audience understanding it as an ancient one would have unless said audience is willing to devote the next twelve years of their life to understand the cultural context in which the work was produced.
Between these two poles is where you'll find most translations, but by no means all. The fact that these are the poles the debate usually takes place between does not mean that they represent a spectrum on which all translations fall. There are more dimensions than just a sense-literal axis.
The problem with strictly literal translations is that it's impossible for you to understand what the original author was actually saying without doing a lot of work to understand the context, footnotes or endnotes might help with this, but generally speaking you're just going to fall short of fully understanding meaning.
The problem with things that try to translate sense is that they are extremely tied to the time and place of their own creation, and quickly become dated, are not intended for multiple cultures before they become dated, and don't leave you knowing what was actually said or done, only what the meaning behind it was and only then if you are the intended audience. If you're not in the intended audience a sense based translation is going to take as much work for you to truly understand as a literal one because either way you have to somehow invade the mindset of a culture not your own. That takes a lot of work.
Oh yeah, best solution I know of? Multiple translations.
If you're not going to devote your life to understanding the culture in which it is written, and are going to look at things only in translation rather than in the original, get multiple translations that fall in different places with regard to whether they value the literal meaning or the sense behind it.