English translations

George Chapman published his translation of the Iliad, in instalments, beginning in 1598, published in "fourteeners", a long-line ballad metre that "has room for all of Homer's figures of speech and plenty of new ones, as well as explanations in parentheses. At its best, as in Achilles' rejection of the embassy in Iliad Nine; it has great rhetorical power".[68] It quickly established itself as a classic in English poetry. In the preface to his own translation, Pope praises "the daring fiery spirit" of Chapman's rendering, which is "something like what one might imagine Homer, himself, would have writ before he arrived at years of discretion".

John Keats praised Chapman in the sonnet On First Looking into Chapman's Homer (1816). John Ogilby's mid-seventeenth-century translation is among the early annotated editions; Alexander Pope's 1715 translation, in heroic couplet, is "The classic translation that was built on all the preceding versions",[69] and, like Chapman's, it is a major poetic work in its own right. William Cowper's Miltonic, blank verse 1791 edition is highly regarded for its greater fidelity to the Greek than either the Chapman or the Pope versions: "I have omitted nothing; I have invented nothing", Cowper says in prefacing his translation.

In the lectures On Translating Homer (1861), Matthew Arnold addresses the matters of translation and interpretation in rendering the Iliad to English; commenting upon the versions contemporarily available in 1861, he identifies the four essential poetic qualities of Homer to which the translator must do justice:

[i] that he is eminently rapid; [ii] that he is eminently plain and direct, both in the evolution of his thought and in the expression of it, that is, both in his syntax and in his words; [iii] that he is eminently plain and direct in the substance of his thought, that is, in his matter and ideas; and, finally, [iv] that he is eminently noble.

After a discussion of the metres employed by previous translators, Arnold argues for a poetical dialect hexameter translation of the Iliad, like the original. "Laborious as this meter was, there were at least half a dozen attempts to translate the entire Iliad or Odyssey in hexameters; the last in 1945. Perhaps the most fluent of them was by J. Henry Dart [1862] in response to Arnold".[70] In 1870, the American poet William Cullen Bryant published a blank verse version, that Van Wyck Brooks describes as "simple, faithful".

Since 1950, there have been several English translations. Richmond Lattimore's version (1951) is "a free six-beat" line-for-line rendering that explicitly eschews "poetical dialect" for "the plain English of today". It is literal, unlike older verse renderings. Robert Fitzgerald's version (Oxford World's Classics, 1974) strives to situate the Iliad in the musical forms of English poetry. His forceful version is freer, with shorter lines that increase the sense of swiftness and energy. Robert Fagles (Penguin Classics, 1990) and Stanley Lombardo (1997) are bolder than Lattimore in adding dramatic significance to Homer's conventional and formulaic language. Barry B. Powell's translation (Oxford University Press, 2014) renders the Homeric Greek with a simplicity and dignity reminiscent of the original. A recent book offers a comparative review of translations of the Iliad [71]

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