Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Odyssey

Was irritated upon receiving my 2003 D.C.H. Rieu Penguin translation of "The Odyssey" to find the thing in PROSE. (Is that the "thing" now?) I hereby completely declare myself in concordance with the 1967 Richard Lattimore dactylic hexameter version! Can't stand the Rieu version I just got. Not merely a matter of "line breaks," but also the language:

Lattimore:
Tell me, Muse, of the man of many ways, who was driven
far journeys, after he had sacked Troy's sacred citadel.
Many were they whose cities he saw, whose minds he learned of,
many the pains he suffered in his spirit on the wide sea,
struggling for his own life and the homecoming of his companions.
Even so he could not save his companions, hard though
he strove to; they were destroyed by their own wild recklessness,
fools, who devoured the oxen of Helios, the Sun God,
and he took away the day of their homecoming. From some point
here, goddess, daughter of Zeus, speak, and begin our story.

Rieu:
Tell me, Muse, the story of that resourceful man who was driven to wander far and wide after he had sacked the holy citadel of Troy. He saw the cities of many people and he learnt their ways. He suffered great anguish on the high seas in his struggles to preserve his life and bring his comrades home. But he failed to save those comrades, in spite of all his efforts. It was their own transgression that brought them to their doom, for in their folly they devoured the oxen of Hyperion the Sun-god and he saw to it that they would never return. Tell us this story, goddess daughter of Zeus, beginning at whatever point you will.

More specifically:

they were destroyed by their own wild recklessness,
fools, who devoured the oxen of Helios, the Sun God,
and he took away the day of their homecoming.

vs.

It was their own transgression that brought them to their doom, for in their folly they devoured the oxen of Hyperion the Sun-god and he saw to it that they would never return.

The latter reads like a joke to me, like Steve Allen in the '60s reciting pop lyrics on television to get knowing titters from his audience.

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