[ocr errors]

Now, in the original there is not a word about “vengeance” either deep” or “deadly,” but the “ is

pernicious wrath” (oúlouévnv uñviv ) which forms the subject of the whole poem ; and it will be admitted that if particular pains ought to be taken with any part, in order that it might be correct, it should be with the statement of the poet's design. Mumford has borne this in mind much better than Derby, for the former translates as follows:

“ The direful wrath which sorrows numberless

Brought on the Greeks." This is much nearer the original than his lordship’s version, although neither is good or even tolerable. Too often, indeed, Pope's Homer is but a paraphrase ; more frequently, however, he gives much more of the Homeric expression than Derby, and he does so in the present instance :

“Achilles' wrath, to Greece the direful spring

Of woes unnumber'd, heavenly Goddess, sing !" This sets forth the idea of Homer accurately enough, and it is poetical withal, though greatly inferior in that respect to the original. Sotheby's version is more literal than Pope's, but not so poetical; it is as follows:

“Sing, Muse! Pelides' wrath, whence woes and woes

O'er the Acheans' gather'd host arose.” It matters little what other passage we take up, comparing different versions of it with each other; in nine cases out of ten his lordship’s is at once the least poetical and least faithful to the original. Nor need we turn the second leaf for an example. The first important passage is the reply of Agamemnon to Chryses, the priest of Apollo, who comes to implore the liberation of his daughter for the large ransom which he is willing to pay for her. According to the interpretation of his lordship, the son of Atreus replies thus :

“Her I release not till her youth be fled;
Within my walls, in Argos, far from home,
Her lot is cast, domestic cares to ply
And share a master's bed. For thee, begone!

Incense me not lest ill betide thee now."-i. 36-40. So far as the gallantry of Agamemnon is concerned, which is the principal point in this passage, nothing could be more at variance with the spirit and obvious meaning of the original. In the whole Iliad there is nothing clearer than

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

the language of Homer in this instance. Nothing to justify the use of any such term as “master” is used in the original. The poet does not say “in my walls," as his translator does, nor " in my house,” but“ in our house,” (quetépq évì oixg). He uses the plural because it is his intention to treat her as his wife. Had he meant to say my

" he would have done so, as he actually has in the following line, where he speaks of her as participating of his bed— ¢uòv léxos, (my bed). Had it not been sufficiently evident' from this that Agamemnon did not mean to treat Chryseis as an ordinary mistress, much less to call himself her “master,” as if she were a common servant, all doubt on this subject would have . been set aside by the language which he applies to her on subsequent occasions. Thus, for example, according to his lordship’s own rendering, the hero represents Chryseis as equal to his wife Clytemnestra, both in mind and body, and not less dear to him :

“ To me not less than Clytemnestra dear,
My virgin wedded wife ; nor less adorn'd

In gifts of form, of feature, or of mind.”-i. 133. This is by no means as strong language as that of the original. What the latter plainly says is that he prefers Chryseis to Clytemnestra : « Και γαρ ρα Κλυταιμνήστρης Προβεβουλα κουριδίης

álóxov.”-i. 113, 114. Here, too, Pope is much nearer the original, and vastly more poetical:

“A maid, unmatch'd in manners as in face,

Skill'd in each art, and crown’d with every grace.
Not half 80 dear were Clytemnestra's charins,

When first her blooming beauties bless'd my arms." Madame Dacier, while denying that avtiówoav, as applied to léxos '(bed), means partaking, lest it might excite indelicate ideas in the reader, and maintaining that Agamennon only meant that Chryseis should make his bed, admits the full force of his preference, and severely censures him for his lack of prudence. Bishop Eustathius, one of the best illustrators of Homer, tries to soften down the same word for the same reason; but neither makes Agamemnon speak in the arrogant, ungallant style of Lord Derby; nor, indeed, does any other translator whose version is worth quoting. But Homer has afforded us still more conclusive proof, if possible, that Agamemnon was not the ruthless enslaver of woman that he


is represented. Briseis, whom he forced from Achilles, was at least as beautiful as Chryseis; yet, when a reconciliation takes place between himself and that hero, he solemnly swears that he never had carnal intercourse with her.*

That he was passionately fond of her he did not deny, but although he does not compare her mental or physical charins to those of Clytemnestra, he respected her too much to use any violence for the purpose of enjoying her charms. Now beit remembered that he treated Achilles in the most defiant manner when he forced Briseis from his custody; and when under such circumstances he treated the latter not as a servant or mistress, but as a guest, is it likely that he designed to degrade Chryseis, as represented by Lord Derby?

Pope is rather indelicate in his version of the hero's reply to the lady's father; and he has been too closely imitated in that respect by Sotheby. As Muruford is the translator whose style that of his lordship most generally resembles, we transcribe the passage as rendered by the former, only premising that it would have been well had he been copied, even word for word, in this instance, as he seems to have been on other occasions :

“I will not her relinquish, till old age

Invade her, dwelling in our royal house
At Argos, from her natal shore remote:
There, with her shuttle at the loom employ'd,

By day, the partner of my bed by night.' But we shall find his lordship little more faithful or reliable in any other passage we turn to, except it be in a speech. It is worthy of remark that as he is a pretty good orator, so does he make a very good attempt at translating some of the many fine speeches in Homer; and he is most successful in

• those to which his own style makes the nearest approach, for it is incredible to those not familiar with the subject, how many different styles are contained in the Iliad-styles, too, which the best writers on oratory, including Quintiliant and

[ocr errors]


* His lordship's own version of the oath is as follows :

“These will I give ; and with them will I send

The fair Briseis, her whom from his tent
I bore away; and add a solemn oath,
I ne'er approach'd her bed, nor with her

Such intercourse as man with woman holds."-ix. 152-156. + Igitur, ut Aratus ab Jove incipiendem putat, ita nos rite coepturi ab Homero videmur. Hic enim quemadmodum ex oceano dicit ipse omnium vim fontìumque cursus initium capere, omnibus eloquentice partibus exemplum et orum dedit. Hude nemo in magnis rebus sublimitate, in parvis proprietate superaverit.

Cicero, have regarded as models. As it not only affords us much pleasure to apply the language of approbation to Lord Derby, whenever we think he deserves it, but, indeed, a good deal more, we will give specimens before we close of one or two of his Homeric speeches, with the view of showing how much they excel his descriptions and other various parts of the Iliad, whose chief attractions in the original consist in their poetry and beauty. But we must first compare him more extensively with other translators ; as for comparing him with Homer, we might as well attempt a comparison between the owl and the nightingale.

Now we turn to the first remarkable description that comes to our memory, that of Achilles approaching Hector, while the latter is soliloquizing on the probable fate of Troy. Nothing could be tamer, it will be seen, than his lordship's version of this celebrated passage:

“Thus as he'stood, he mus'd; but near approach'd
Achilles, terrible as plumèd Mars;
From his right shoulder brandishing aloft
The ashen spear of Peleus, while around
Flash'd his bright armor, dazzling as the glare
Of burning fire, or of the rising sun.
Fear at the sight on valiant Hector seized ;
Nor dard he there await th' attack, but left
The gates behind, and terror-stricken, fled,
Forward, with eager step, Pelides rushid,
As when a falcon, bird of swiftest flight,
From some high inountain-top, on tim'rous dove
Swoops fiercely down; she, from beneath, in fear,
Evades the stroke; he, dashing through the brake,
Shrill-shrieking, pounces on his destin'd prey ;
So, wing'd with desp'rate hate, Achilles flew,
So Hector, flying from his keen pursuit,
Beneath the walls his active sinews plied.
They by the watch-tow'r, and beneath the wall
Where stood the wind-beat fig-tree, rac'd amain
Along the carriage road, until they reach'd
The fairly-flowing fount whence issu'd forth,
From double source, Scamander's eddying streams.
One with hot current flows, and from beneath,
As from a furnace, clouds of steam arise;

Idem læctus ac pressus, jucundus et gravis, tum copia, tum brevitate mirabilis ; nec poetica modo, sed oratoria virtute eminentissimus. (As Aratus, then, thinks that we ought to begin with Jupiter, so I think that I shall very properly commence with Homer ; for, as he says, that the might of rivers and the courses of springs take their rise from the ocean, so has he himself given a model and an origin for every species of eloquence. No one has excelled him in sublimity on great subjects, no one in propriety in small. He is at once copious and concise, pleasing and forci. ble ; admirable at one time for exuberance, and at another for brevity ; eminent not only for poetic, but also for oratorical excellence.)-De Institutione Oratoria, lib. xc. 1. s. 46.


'Mid summer's heat the other rises cold
As hail, or snow, or water crystallized ;
Beside the fountains the washing-troughs
Of well-wrought stone, where erst the wives of Troy
And daughters fair their choicest garments wash'd,
In peaceful times, ere came the sons of Greece.
There rac'd they, one in flight, and one pursuing;
Good he who fled, but better who pursu'd,
With fiery speed ; for on that race was stak'd
No common victim, no ignoble ox:

The prize at stake was mighty Hector's life.”-xxii. 155–191.

Mumford' has done vastly better than this, or rather he has not done near so badly. We do not feel justified, however, in occupying our space just now with his rendering. We prefer to make room for the version of Pope, which, although it gives but a very feeble idea of the startling vividness and grandeur of the original, is highly poetical, and well calculated to strike the imagination.

“Thus pondering, like a god the Greek drew nigh,

His dreadful plumage nodded from on high ;
The Pelian javelin in his better hand
Shot trembling rays that glitter'd o'er the land ;
And on his breast the beamy splendors shone,
Like Jove's own lightning or the rising sun.
As Hoctor sees, unusual terrors rise,

Struck by some god, he fears, recedes, and flies ;
· He leaves the gates, he leaves the walls behind :

Achilles follows like the winged wind.
Thus at the panting dove a falcon flies
(The swiftest racer of the liquid skies):
Just when he holds or thinks he holds his prey,
Obliquely wheeling through the aerial way;
With open beak and shrilling cries he springs,
And aims his claws and shoots upon his wings :
No less fore-right the rapid chase they held,
One urg'd by fury, one by fear impell'd ;
Now circling round the walls their course maintain,
Where the high watch-tower overlooks the plain ;
Now where the fig-trees spread their umbrage broad
(A wider compass), smoke along the road.
Next by Scamander's double source they bound,
Where two fam'd fountains burst the parted ground ;
This hot through scorching clefts is seen to rise,
With exhalations steaming to the skies ;
That the green banks in summer's heat o'erflows,
Like crystal clear, and cold as winter snows.
Each gushing fount a marble cistern fills,
Whose polish'd bed receives the falling rills;
Where Trojan dames (ere yet alarmed by Greece)
Wash'd their fair garments in the days of peace.
By these they pass’d, one chasing, one in flight
(The mighty fled, pursued by stronger might),
Swift was the course; no vulgar prize they play,

« VorigeDoorgaan »