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The Odyssey by Homer

The Odyssey by Homer

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The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work traditionally ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon. Indeed it is the second
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work traditionally ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon. Indeed it is the second

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Published by: Books on Apr 25, 2011
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07/12/2013

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 THE ODYSSEY 
by HOMER 
 
 
PREFACE.
 There would have been less controversy about the proper method of Homerictranslation, if critics bad recognised that the question is a purely relative one,that of Homer there can be no final translation. The taste and the literary habitsof each age demand different qualities in poetry, and therefore a different sortof rendering of Homer. To the men of the time of Elizabeth, Homer wouldhave appeared bald, it seems, and lacking in ingenuity, if he had been presentedin his antique simplicity. For the Elizabethan age, Chapman supplied what wasthen necessary, and the mannerisms that were then deemed of the essence of poetry, namely, daring and luxurious conceits. Thus in Chapman’s verse Troy must ‘shed her towers for tears of overthrow,’ and when the winds tossOdysseus about, their sport must be called ‘the horrid tennis.’In the age of Anne, ‘dignity’ and ‘correctness’ had to be given to Homer, andPope gave them by aid of his dazzling rhetoric, his antitheses, his nettete, hiscommand of every conventional and favourite artifice. Without Chapman’sconceits, Homer’s poems would hardly have been what the Elizabethans took for poetry; without Pope’s smoothness, and Pope’s points, the Iliad andOdyssey would have seemed rude, and harsh in the age of Anne. These greattranslations must always live as English poems. As transcripts of Homer they are like pictures drawn from a lost point of view. Chaque siecle depuis le xvi aue de ce cote son belveder different. Again, when Europe woke to a sense, analmost exaggerated and certainly uncritical sense, of the value of her songs of the people, of all the ballads that Herder, Scott, Lonnrot, and the rest collected,it was commonly said that Homer was a ballad-minstrel, that the translatormust imitate the simplicity, and even adopt the formulae of the ballad. Hencecame the renderings of Maginn, the experiments of Mr. Gladstone, and others. There was some excuse for the error of critics who asked for a Homer in balladrhyme. The Epic poet, the poet of gods and heroes, did indeed inherit some of the formulae of the earlier Volks-lied. Homer, like the author of The Song of Roland, like the singers of the Kalevala, uses constantly recurring epithets, andrepeats, word for word, certain emphatic passages, messages, and so on. Thatcustom is essential in the ballad, it is an accident not the essence of the epic. The epic is a poem of complete and elaborate art, but it still bears somebirthmarks, some signs of the early popular chant, out of which it sprung, asthe garden-rose springs from the wild stock, When this is recognised thedemand for ballad-like simplicity and ‘ballad-slang’ ceases to exist, and then all

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