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The Iliad and The Odyssey (English Edition) Formato Kindle
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Peter Green states in the introduction that he is following in the footsteps of Lattimore, to preserve as much of the poem in Greek--wording, sentence structure, meter, and so on--in English, but to also make it declaimable. It is a translation to be read aloud. Thus, it is also a challenge to Fagles's translation, among whose virtues is how well it works as an audiobook.
To review, there are several major verse modern translations of the Iliad. Lattimore's is closest to the original Greek, and for undergraduate work can substitute for the original well enough. There is the Fagles translation, in modern free verse, is wonderful to read aloud. The Fagles Odyssey was on Selected Shorts once, and for a long time after I insisted that there was no other worthwhile contemporary translation of Homer. I swore by it. Lombardo's translation is pretty common in colleges because of the price and the slangy presentation. Then there is Fitzgerald, which some swear by, but Fitzgerald's translation is loose with the Greek and mannered and fey in its English. It even translates Odysseus as "Ulysses," a sure sign that fidelity to the Greek is not worth the translator's trouble. I am missing some others, I'm sure.
So let us begin at the beginning. In the Greek, the Iliad has "μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος" Quite literally, "Rage! sing goddess of the son of Peleus Achilles." μῆνιν means, more or less, the anger that engenders revenge, rage, wrath, anger are all ok to some degree. (It's complicated, an entire scholarly treatise is written on the meaning of the word.) Green gives, "Wrath, goddess, sing of Achilles Peleus's son's [/ wrath]." Fagles gives "Rage--Goddess sing the rage of Peleus's son Achilles." Lattimore gives "Sing, goddess, the anger of Peleus' son Achilleus." Green and Fagles are right to put the first word first. This is poetry, after all, the order of the words matter, the first especially. The first word is the theme of the poem, the way it is directed first against Agamemnon, then toward the Trojans, and then tempered for a common moment of humanity, is the internal trajectory of the whole epic. Wrath might be best of all, since it conveys that it is anger in a sense that is unfamiliar to modern readers.
Once, in my second year of taking Greek, I was told that there was no use of literal translations. Take it far enough, and you wind up with a textbook on how to read the book in the original Greek. Make it into readable English, and you wind up with a host of compromises where thousands of close translations might do. Go far enough you wind up with Girardoux's "The Trojan War Will Not Take Place," worthwhile on its own, but not really a "translation." That professor preferred Fitzgerald, but easy for her to do, she could read anything in Greek without any help. For us mortals with mostly forgotten Greek, or no Greek at all, closeness to the original in a translation should be treasured.
In the end, translating Homer is a game of compromises, How much of the strangeness of 2500 year old lines and 3200 year old motivations do you keep? Dactylic hexameter calls for lines much longer than any form of English verse, so shorter lines or not? And so on. For me, Fagles is as far to compromise with how English verse should go as I am willing to accept. For what it's worth, Lattimore's English verse is better than his critics complain of.
Starting from no knowledge of Greek, I'd choose Green. Over Lattimore because it's friendlier for the beginner and not worse as far as I can tell for a serious third reading. Over Fagles because the true-to-the-Greek line lengths convey the way the poem drives itself forward better in Green's line by line than in Fagles's free verse.
Also. The introduction includes a plot summary of the whole Trojan War, of which the Iliad only covers a small portion. I have never seen such a succinct and complete synopsis before. There is also a synopsis of the poem keyed to the poem in the back matter to help find your place, an enlightening glossary of names and concepts to help you through your first read, and footnotes to inform the reader of context that has since been lost.
Word to the wise re: Kindles. These are long verse lines. To get complete lines on a Kindle screen, you need a Kindle that allows text to display in landscape mode.Even then, complete lines only work in a very small font size. Get this in hardback for now. The hardback is stitched and bound to keep, so it is worth your money.
This text of Homer's epic poem is poet William Cullen Bryant's blank verse translation composed in the 1870s. The story is one of the oldest of humanity's tales to be recorded, dating to the 8th century BCE, but one that remains fresh and exciting. The main character is Ulysses, the wily warrior-king of the island of Ithaca, who outfitted and led twelve ships of men to fight in the Trojan War, the Greek campaign launched to recover Helen, Queen of Sparta, after her abduction by Paris, a prince of Troy. Ulysses devised the ploy of the hollow horse which led to the Greek victory. He was acclaimed a hero, and sailed home to Ithaca from Troy with a victorious crew and ships laden with treasure.
The tale begins ten years after the end of the Trojan War, with Ulysses and his crew have still not having returned home. His son Telemachus is around 18 years old, and Ulysses' wife Penelope is a wise, beautiful, and wealthy woman. Their home, Ithaca's palace, has been besieged by more than 100 prospective suitors who urge Penelope to regard her husband as dead and to marry one of them. Penelope remains steadfast in her belief that Ulysses still lives and contrives to make the suitors wait for her to make a decision about whether and whom she will remarry. Telemachus, inspired by the goddess Athena, decides to travel to the Greek mainland to visit his father's old friends King Nestor of Pylos and Menelaus and Helen, the King and Queen of Sparta, to discover what they can tell him of his father's fate. In the meantime, the reader discovers that Ulysses is indeed alive, though far from home, having endured the loss of his ships and crew in a series of tragic adventures, and spending the last seven years as a captive of the nymph Calypso on the island of Ogygia.
The book recounts Ulysses' struggle to return to his home on Ithaca, Telemachus' determination to protect himself, his mother, and his home from the increasingly villainous plots of the suitors, and Penelope's courage and cunning in steering the course of her own life. The characters are complex, the story is thrilling, and the suspense is continuous.
The Odyssey is a glimpse into a world lost to history that is made familiar by personalities and situations that remain recognizably current and relevant to the modern world. I envy you the experience of enjoying this story for the first time.