Monday, June 14, 2010

Aimless Reading: The H's, Part 27.2 (Homer)

The Iliad of Homer
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
The Iliad
Tr. Alexander Pope

Purchased at the Niagara Falls outlet mall discount bookstore. I seem to have removed the price tag, which is still slightly visible as a piece of smegma in the upper right hand corner of the cover. I also seem to have left a bookmark inside the book between pages two forty-six and two forty-seven.

I recall reading from it a few years back. I think it must have been around the same time I tried to read Fagles' translation. I may have been reading them side-by-side. My only recollection of the Pope is of the maddening feeling of claustrophobia his heroic couplets produce when read in succession. It's entertaining reading, but after a while you have to stop, lest you begin speaking and thinking in couplets.

Reading it felt a little like when I was in high school studying Spanish. For a period of about two years, every time someone would say something to me I would immediately translate what they said into Spanish. I did not do this intentionally, it just happened. After a while, I thought I was going insane. I'd look around at my friends and know that none of them were translating anything I said into another language and that if they were they would damn well know how to stop it, which I could not.

I eventually did, though I suppose by then I had learned to speak it, which was a useful side effect.

from The Iliad, page 246

Great Hector saw, and raging at the view
Pours on the Greeks: the Trojan troops pursue;
He fires his host with animating cries,
And brings along the furies of the skies.
Mars, stern destroyer! and Bellona dread,
Flame in the front, and thunder at the head;
This swells the tumult and the rage of fight;
That shakes a spear that casts a dreadful light;
Where Hector march'd, the god of battles shin'd,
Now stormed before him, and now rag'd behind.

And for comparison to Fagles, the opening:

Achilles wrath, to Greece the direful spring
Of woes unnumber'd, heav'nly Goddess, sing!
That wrath which hurl'd to Pluto's gloomy reign
The souls of mighty Chiefs untimely slain;
Whose limbs unbury'd on the naked shore
Devouring dogs and hungry vultures tore:
Since great Achilles and Atrides strove,
Such was the sovereign doom, and such the will of Jove!

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