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Each translation of Homer reflects its own time. Though Pope's Iliad is the most complete poetic adaptation of Homer's epic in its own right we are likely to have in English, his heroic couplets are a far cry from Homer's unrhymed, rugged hexameters. His powerfully "Englished" version, to which the British eagerly subscribed, must have confirmed their sense of England's supremacy. It remained for Richmond Lattimore to restore Homer's Greekness, in his version, first published in 1951. Those who were reared on his Iliad stand by it fiercely. And why not? No one has better rendered in English the beat of Homer's hexameter, which is to Greek verse what the Alexandrine is to French and blank verse is to English.

Sing, goddess, the anger of Peleus' son Achilleus

and its devastation which put pains thousandfold upon the Achaians,

hurled in their multitudes to the house of Hades strong souls

of heroes, but gave their bodies to be the delicate feasting

of dogs, of all birds, and the will of Zeus was accomplished

since that time when first there stood in division of conflict

Atreus' son the lord of men and brilliant Achilleus.

Lattimore's version is something of a tour-de-force, a unique poetic document that will probably "last." But the frequently awkward syntax ("since that time when first there stood") makes it treacherously free of any discourse with the poetic diction of its time.
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Author:Rudman, Mark
Publication:The American Poetry Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 1993
Previous Article:From 'Robert Creeley and the Genius of the American Common Place.' (excerpt)
Next Article:Iliad.

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