Who is pressing you now?: A reconsideration of Milton's "Pyrrha Ode".
As Archie Burnett wrote in his survey of earlier criticism, "Widely-differing judgments have been passed on nearly every aspect of Milton's translation of Horace." (2) The critical debate, however, has focused on three issues: the translation's date of composition, its relation to Milton's stylistic development, and its poetic merits. The first two concerns are often connected: Is the poem an early, schoolboy effort (the majority view) and thus part of Milton's training regimen in only a general way, or a later experiment that prepared and refined his mature, grand style? This essay engages with all three issues--particularly the translation's date of composition, for which I present new evidence--but with a different focus. A reconsideration of Milton's translation is warranted in order to give due attention to other concerns, namely the translation's print history, paratext, and the purpose of literal translation (also called "verbal" or "grammatical" translation) in early modern England. This essay frames its analysis of Milton's translation within these contexts.
I argue that, rather than offering his translation as a substitute for Horace's original, Milton presents it as a parallel text. This highly literal translation demands through its method and its paratext that readers approach it comparatively--that they use, that is, the facing Latin--for three reasons: to appreciate Milton's experiment, to excuse his peculiarities of phrasing, and, strangest of all, to understand the translation itself. For at the moment that Milton translates two lines truly word for word, his translation becomes thoroughly ambiguous; ironically, the English reader must use the Latin original to comprehend the translation. Whereas other literal translations encouraged comparative reading to further learning, Milton demands a comparative reading of his translation to define the nature of his audacious feat and the degree of his success. His literal translation is experimental rather than pedagogical.
A close comparison of Milton's translation with the facing Latin shows his version's ingenuity and its shortcomings. I argue that several of Milton's key word choices, often censured, are both more successful and consistent with his translation method than has been recognized. But I also draw attention to less-noted elements within the text that deviate from Milton's stated translation method, moments where he fails to follow through on his extraordinary promise.
At least six single-authored translations of Horace's Odes were published in England in the seventeenth century before Milton's version of the "Pyrrha Ode" appeared in print: John Ashmore (1621), Thomas Hawkins (1625), and Sir Richard Fanshawe (1652) translated selections; Henry Rider (1638), John Smith (1649), and an anonymous author (1653) translated the complete Odes. (3) All of these authors, save for Hawkins, included a rendering of the popular "Pyrrha Ode." The poem appealed to an early modern audience, Joshua Scodel argues, because of "its artful but 'moral' evocation of beauty's dangerous seductiveness." (4) Hawkins might have found the poem too lascivious. In his address "To the Reader," he wrote: "Some will urge againe, why were not these Wreathes of morall, and serious Odes, for the more varietie, and generall entertainement of most, mixed with his [Horace's] wanton and looser straines of Poesie? These I answer, and with it conclude. The Translatour of these, had rather teach Vertue to the modest, then discover Vice to the dissolute." (5) But for many readers and translators, the "Pyrrha Ode" hit the sweet spot between the moralistic and the salacious. Puritans and bon vivants alike could find grist for their mill. As the eighteenth-century translator Philip Francis, who translated nearly all of Horace's poems, wrote in the preface to his Horace, the "whole Strength" of English translators as a collective force "seems to have been employed upon single and favourite Odes." (6) The "Pyrrha Ode" was one of these favorites. With its "interconnected themes of love, credulity, betrayal, and retirement from love," the ode to Pyrrha proved "one of the most, if not the most, translated of Latin lyrics." (7)
As one of a small group of much-translated classical poems, the "Pyrrha Ode" became a concentrated site of competition, a tiny battleground where translators presented rival interpretations and artistic performances. Before the translation anthologies that began to appear in England in the seventeenth century, multiple, competing translations of Horace had featured in the first edition of Tottel's Songs and Sonnets--specifically, three versions of Odes II.10 are printed, though they are neither identified as translations nor printed side by side. John Ashmore included three versions of the popular Odes III.9 in his Certain Selected Odes of Horace, Englished (1621), writing, "I assaid to translate this three waies, desirous that one of them may give content." (8)
Francis, whom Samuel Johnson ranked as the best translator of Horace, acknowledged that "it is hardly to be expected that any one Person shall ever be capable of following this great Poet with equal Spirit through all his Odes." (9) A few printers seemed to have agreed, for the end of the seventeenth century saw a vogue for composite translation anthologies--works, that is, "by several hands." If each translation is an interpretation, then these compilations were considerable commentaries. By including multiple renderings of the same poem side by side, these anthologies fostered not only critical comparison and authorial competition, but also a sense of the collaborative nature of translation, especially when one version owed a debt to another. (Francis did not hold earlier translations of Horace in high esteem, but he acknowledged that he stole felicitous lines when he could. He also printed Miltons version in lieu of translating the "Pyrrha Ode" himself. Milton too borrowed lines from earlier versions in his translations of the Psalms and other works, including, I will argue, in his translation of the "Pyrrha Ode." (10)) Curiously, some of the same publishers who espoused the neoclassicist way of translating also anthologized more literal efforts, including Miltons. This essay considers two composite translation anthologies, the first by Alexander Brome and the second by Jacob Tonson.
Composite volumes of Horace translations began with the 1666 collection by Alexander Brome (or Broome) entitled The Poems of Horace, Consisting of Odes, Satyres, and Epistles, Rendred in English Verse by Several Persons. At times the work features side by side multiple translations of the same poem. The "Pyrrha Ode" is represented in Bromes collection by versions by Fanshawe and Abraham Cowley.
In his "Epistle Dedicatory," Brome stresses the collaborative nature of translation, particularly the importance of hospitable patrons, fellow translators, and attentive readers. Brome includes an appeal to readers to improve the included translations, or to send the stationer better ones, so that, like the ship of Theseus, Horace's works might be incrementally, but completely, transformed and perfected in English. (11) This might seem like empty posturing on Bromes part, but, as an address "To the Reader" in the second edition of his collection states, "new Adventurers" did heed the invitation to "gratifie and oblige Posterity" by attempting and submitting their own translations. Consequently, some translations were dropped and new ones substituted in their place for the second edition. (12) Brome likewise seems in earnest when he stresses the importance of reading translations comparatively: "And for a precedent, I desire [readers] to compare these lines of Phaer [he quotes five lines of Phaer's Aeneid] with this done by Sir John Denham [he quotes Denham's translations of the same lines]. By which they may perceive how highly Translations may be improved." Brome, like Dryden after him, praises Denham at the expense of more grammatical translators: "as this Book consists of several men's endeavors, so those several men went several ways; but all studied to shun a nice Pedantical Translation, which Horace could not abide." He does not include Milton's "Pyrrha Ode" (and presumably no one could have until the publication of the 1673 Poems), yet "to crown" his Horace anthology he includes Ben Jonson's translation of The Art of Poetry, a translation Dryden would censure for awkwardness born of literalness. (13)
Jacob Tonson the Elder (1655-1736) was one of the key publishers of translation in England during this period, and it was his partnership with Dryden "that established the direction of English literary translation in the later seventeenth century." (14) In 1715, Tonson published The Odes and Satyrs of Horace ... by the Most Eminent Hands. Horace's "Pyrrha Ode" is represented in Tonson's collection by Cowley, Anthony Horneck, and Milton--"Cowley and Milton representing opposite extremes of translation method." (15) Tonson's compilation regrettably has nothing like Bromes "Epistle Dedicatory." Its tiny Preface refrains from discussing editorial criteria.
In "Unlocking the Word-hoard: In Praise of Metaphrase," Charles Martindale compares three versions of the ode--Cowley's, Fanshawe's, and Milton's--and argues that each translation embodies one of Dryden's categories--imitation, paraphrase, and metaphrase, respectively. (16) It's an incisive comparison. So incisive, in fact, that Tonson seems to have anticipated this strategy by nearly three hundred years. As mentioned, in 1715 Tonson published versions of the "Pyrrha Ode" by Cowley, Horneck, and Milton, and in that order. Furthermore, Tonson's edition identifies Cowley's translation, as Cowley himself did, as an imitation. Likewise, Tonson prints Miltons original headnote, which self-identities as a metaphrastic translation. Horneck's version (in couplets) ably stands in for what Dryden would have identified as paraphrase. Horneck's translation is literally between Cowley's and Milton's, spatially and in method. This structure is likely no accident: Tonson was well acquainted with Dryden's tripartite distinction, because he himself published Ovid's Epistles Translated by Several Hands (1680), the anthology in which Drydens now-famous preface first appeared. (17)
But the original printing of Milton's translation also invites the reader to make a comparison, that of English rendering weighed against Latin original. Miltons "Pyrrha Ode" first appeared in his 1673 Poems, an enlarged edition of the 1645 Poems, but it is not known when he made the translation. Because Milton also included Horaces Latin text en face, we know that the Latin from which he worked differed only in three particulars from modern editions of Horace. (18)
Milton's version originally appears, complete with both English and Latin headnote, as follows:
The Fifth Ode of Horace. Lib. I. AD PYRRHAM. Ode V. Quis multa gracilis te puer in Horatius ex Pyrrhae illecebris Rosa, Rendred almost word for tanquam e naufragio word without Rhyme according enataverat, cujus amore to the Latin Measure, as near irretitos, affirmat esse as the Language will permit. miseros. What slender Youth bedew'd Quis multa gracilis te puer in with liquid odours rosa Courts thee on Roses in some Perfusus liquidis urget pleasant Cave, odoribus, Pyrrha for whom bindst thou Grato, Pyrrha, sub antro? In wreaths thy golden Hair, Cui fiavam religas comam Plain in thy neatness; O how Simplex munditie? heu quoties oft shall he fidem Of Faith and changed Gods Mutatosque deosflebit, & complain: and Seas aspera Rough with black winds and storms Nigris aequora vends Unwonted shall admire: Emirabitur insolens, Who now enjoyes thee Qui nunc tefruitur credulus credulous, all Gold, aurea: Who alwayes vacant alwayes Qui semper vacuum, semper amiable amabilem Hopes thee; of flattering gales Sperat, nescius aurae Unmindfull. Hapless they Fallacis. miseri quibus To whom thou untry'd seem'st Intentata nites. me tabula fair. Me in my vow'd sacer Picture the sacred wall Votiva paries indicat uvida declares t'have hung My dank and dropping weeds Suspendisse potenti To the stern God of Sea. Vestimenta maris Deo.
Not always considered in discussions of Milton's translation is that he (or his printer) included a headnote to the facing Latin: Horatius ex Pyrrhae illecebris tanquam e naufragio enataverat, cujus amore irretitos, affirmat esse miseros (Horace, having escaped from Pyrrha's charms, as from a shipwreck, declares that those who are ensnared by her love are in a wretched state). (19) The note is conventional, providing the reader with summary and implicit moral--the dangers of love and especially seductive women. (Pyrrha is sometimes condemned in advance by titles and introductory paratext that refer to her as a meretrix, or prostitute. (20)) Indeed, Miltons Latin headnote is not only conventional, but borrowed. The 1649 translation by John Smith is prefaced: "Horrace escaping out of the inticements of Pyrrha, as one from the danger of ship-wrack, affirmes such to be inmiserable [sic], as are intangled with her love." (21) Miltons Latin note and Smith's English note match each other exactly. Both Smith and Milton (or their printers) copied the same headnote from a still earlier source, perhaps John Bond's scholarly Horace of 1620, which contains precisely the same Latin headnote. The headnote appears in various guises in other versions printed before and after Milton. (22)
Milton's Latin headnote effectively spoils the surprise of the last stanza--namely that the speaker of the poem was once ensnared by Pyrrha--but there was a good chance the Latin reader was already familiar with the poem. Horace's odes "constituted by far the most familiar lyric mode for readers in this period [i.e., 1660-1790], Any educated man would have been expected to know large parts of Horace's works, including entire odes, by heart in the Latin." (23) This familiarity intensified the difficulty for contemporary translators, as any shortcomings would not go unnoticed. And this familiarity among educated men--fit audience though few--enabled Milton to justify rendering Horace's Latin in his unusual way, a method wherein the English would be obscure without reference to the original.
More intriguing is the English headnote. Milton did not write a translator's preface, but he was fond of headnotes, frequently using them to signal his youthfulness at the time of composition. It is notable then that this particular headnote makes no mention of age, unlike other youthful efforts in both the 1645 and 1673 Poems. The scholar is teased by the two catchwords on the facing pages of Milton's translation and Horace's Latin: AD, from "AD PYRRHAM," and Anno, from the book's next title, "Anno Aetatis 19: At a Vacation Exercise in the College." But the book keeps its secret, and the translation proves to be the "only wholly undatable poem in the collection," writes Gordon Campbell. (24)
But might the themes and subject matter of the translation suggest a date of composition via kinship with other Miltonic works? Unfortunately, we are not helped much here, for parallels range from the youthful to the mature. The translation's subject, "deliberate rejection of love, may indicate a date of composition near to that of Elegia VI," (25) a poem with multiple allusions to Horace that, because it mentions the recent composition of "On the Morning of Christ's Nativity," looks to have been written soon after Christmas 1629. The sexual trap of the "Pyrrha Ode" might call to mind the attempted seduction in Comus. But one could also highlight parallels with the late (but how late?) Samson Agonistes. Hard on the heels of a shipwreck metaphor, Samson describes Dalila as "That specious monster, my accomplished snare" (line 230).
The strongest parallel, however, is with Milton's most famous mature work. For the same erotic setting of roses, perfume, and grotto, as well as Eves golden curling hair (reinforced by images of the "mantling vine," flower beds in "curious knots," and the "insinuating," "braided" serpent) are all present in lines 252-357 of Book IV of Paradise Lost:
Flow'rs of all hue, and without thorn the rose: Another side, umbrageous grots and caves Of cool recess, o'er which the mantling vine Lays forth her purple grape, and gently creeps Luxuriant ... She [Eve] as a veil down to the slender waist Her unadorned golden tresses wore Disheveled, but in wanton ringlets waved As the vine curls her tendrils, which implied Subjection, but required with gentle sway, And by her yielded, by him best received, Yielded with coy submission, modest pride, And sweet reluctant amorous delay. (4.256-60, 304-11)
The scene, complete with an observant Satan watching the private lovers and ruminating "how nigh ... all these delights / Will vanish and deliver ye to woe" reads like a prelapsarian "Pyrrha Ode." Eve's hair, like Pyrrha's, is fraught with meaning and described in complex, nearly oxymoronic terms. (26) (As I discuss below in my reading of the translation, Milton either misunderstands Horace's Latin or deliberately transgresses his literal translation method when it comes to his Englishing of Pyrrha's locks.) Still, neither these similarities nor the lack of a boast about the translation being a youthful effort offers anything in the way of hard proof.
As often happens in Milton studies, the translation's date of composition takes on weight. Not, however, because of possible biographical implications. The ode's time of composition, for some critics at least, is significant for what it does or does not tell us about the evolution of Milton's poetic style. The editors of The Complete Milton treat the dating of the poem as a fairly sedate matter: "Proponents of a late date, noting likenesses between the translation and Milton's mature style, suppose that he was deliberately studying Horace in an attempt to perfect his own literary gifts. But the fact that we have no other examples of such studious translations (unless we imagine that Milton was primarily tinkering with his style in the Psalm paraphrases) argues for an earlier date, perhaps 1629, on the assumption that the poem grew out of an academic exercise." (27) This stance argues from an absence--a lack of other "studious translations"--no less than the view that sees the nonmention of an early date of composition as evidence that the translation was made later in Milton's career. D. S. Carne-Ross thinks the date of potentially profound import:
We may regret that translators did not on occasion ... force English into Horace's Latin mould ... Here the translator more or less abandons the genius of his own language and seeks to create something new, an amalgam of the foreign or alien and the native. Translations of this kind are very rare in English and indeed there is only one example that can be considered successful, Milton's version of the Ode to Pyrrha. One must speak cautiously here since much depends on when it was written. If early, perhaps in his later teens, then it may be that he was doing simply what he described himself as doing with no theoretical purpose in mind.... If, however, this translation was written in his full maturity after he had studied the linguistic innovations carried out in early sixteenth-century Italy--which aimed at what amounts almost to a new language, Italian with Latin diction and syntax imposed on the native stock--then the Pyrrha Ode may be more ambitious than either its admirers or detractors have seen. (28)
I am inclined to cut the Gordian knot here by arguing that much does not depend on when Milton wrote his version of the "Pyrrha Ode;" whether it is a youthful or mature effort, it is deeply experimental. Milton has made a trial of himself and of the English languages ability to imitate a more inflected syntax, especially the placement of modifiers. (29) That this is not a rote exercise is indicated both by Miltons deviations from his literal method (e.g., "stern" rather than the cognate "potent" for the Latin potenti) and by the fact that it is only in the latter half of the poem that Milton pushes English syntax to the breaking point.
Another absence in the English headnote is much less salient than the lack of a date of composition: it does not highlight any typographical significance. Another of Miltons headnotes shows that he was also alert to the potential significance of typography to translation. In the headnote to his translations of Psalms 80 through 88--which, like the "Pyrrha Ode," first appeared in his 1673 collection--Milton wrote: "Nine of the Psalms done into metre, wherein all but what is in a different character, are the very words of the text, translated from the original." That is, where he feels he has been faithful to the literal word, he uses roman type; where he has taken liberties, in the form of additions, he signals it with italic type. (30) Milton also adds marginal notes to call further attention to his deviations from the literal. He foregrounds no such deviations in his Horace translation, even in those moments where he does alter the text, discussed below. In the translation of Horace, the typography of both the Latin and the English are straightforward. The Latin is in all italics, save for Pyrrhas name in roman type, and the English is in roman type, save for an italicized Pyrrha. Much cannot be made of the absence of meaningful italics in Miltons "Pyrrha Ode," however, since this typographical signal--used in both the Geneva Bible and the Authorized Version to indicate interpolated words--had become a convention in the English translation of sacred texts. Milton would have felt no such obligation when translating Horace.
The English headnote proclaims that the translation has been "Rendred ... without Rhyme according to the Latin Measure." But Milton notably deviates from Horace's meter--Fourth Asclepiadean, in this case--though his headnote says otherwise. Or does it? Is his claim only the modest one that, according to the Latin measure, he has not used rhyme? (Rendered without rhyme and according to the Latin measure, or Rendered, according to the Latin measure, without rhyme?) But Milton makes no modest claims, we might well think. Critics, accordingly, have looked for a foreign rhythm in the translation that is not there.
The translation of classical prosody is a tricky matter, but the essentials boil down to this: Horaces prosody is quantitative and Miltons, accentual-syllabic; a straightforward solution is thus to convert long quantities into accents. (31) Milton does not do this. And it is hard to argue that he has gone the more daring, and dubious, route and attempted to assign quantities to English syllables when his poem does scan as accentual-syllabic iambic pentameter and trimeter. In an effort to imitate Horace's metrical variety, the anonymous author of the 1653 translation used a rhymed version of this same 10/6/10/6 stanza for his translation of the "Pyrrha Ode," which might be taken for modest evidence that Milton composed his translation after that time. Fanshawe also used a rhymed version of this stanza in some of his Horatian translations in 1652, though not for his version of the ode to Pyrrha.
Miltons long and short lines can only be said to loosely approximate Horace's meter. Or to put it another way, Horace's first line scans like this, where boldface represents a long quantity and the lack of boldface represents a short:
Quis multa gracilis te puer in rosa
A loose English equivalent, which converted Horace's long quantities to accents, would go:
What boy reeking of ten-thousand colognes among
Milton's first line is iambic pentameter with a feminine ending:
What slender Youth bedewd with liquid odours
English poets have tried writing in classical meters certainly, but it does not look like this. (32)
What Milton has rendered is not the meter but the stanzaic shape of the Latin strophes. His meter is familiar but his music--because of that novel stanza--is new. (33) And the stanza would have its own afterlife. Indeed, if the appropriation of his stanza is any guide, Miltons translation looks to have been enormously popular in the eighteenth century. "From 1700 to 1837," R. D. Havens writes, "no fewer than eighty-three poems, and probably many more, were written in Milton's Horatian stanza," with Collins's "Ode to Evening" the most notable example. More precisely, Collins would use Milton's stanza, and dozens would then imitate Collins. (34) Robert Southey deemed Milton's translation a failure, "uncouth ... in syntax as well as sound, and bearing no other resemblance to the Latin measure, which it was designed to imitate, than that it consists of two long and two short lines," and yet, he conceded: "[it] presents the only example of a rhymeless stanza which can fairly be said to have become naturalized in our language. Collins saw what could be made of it, and few poems have been more frequently imitated than the 'Ode to Evening,' to which he has so finally and beautifully applied its slow and solemn movement. This had been the only successful attempt at introducing an unrhymed lyric measure in English poetry." (35) Milton's "uncouth" translation has had an unusually rich prosodic legacy.
The English headnote's rejection of rhyme may well put us in mind of Milton's prefatory note to Paradise Lost, but the main force of the headnote is to underscore Milton's highly literal translation method: "Rendred almost word for word." Of course, the claim is immediately qualified "as near as the Language will permit." That hedge is not without precedent. Indeed, as with many phrases in translation prefaces, it seems to have become conventional. But when we compare other statements to Milton's headnote, we see that the literal translation of literary texts was typically done for pedagogical aims.
The hedge was used in the sixteenth century, even as the danger of literal translation was perceived. In 1562 Thomas Norton--co-author of Gorboduc, the first English play in blank verse--published a translation of the Latin version of Calvin's Institutes. In that preface, he states, "In the end, I rested upon this determination, to follow the words so near as the phrase of the English tongue would suffer me." (36) Norton translates more literally not to aid Latin learners but to skirt doctrinal pitfalls. By hewing close to Calvin's phrasing he hopes to avoid accusations of distorting Calvin's theology, despite the fact that it will make his translation less graceful. But Norton was handling doctrine. More representative of the aims of literal literary translation are these words of Abraham Fleming, a prolific translator and editor, in the 1575 Preface to his Bucolics of Virgil: "A Plain interpretation and a literal explication maketh a ready and a speedy passage to understanding and knowledge, whereof I have had a principal care in this translation." (37) In translating Aesop (1580), William Bullokar kept his English "somwhat ne'r the Latin phras, that the English learnor of Latin, reading over these Authors in both langages, might the more easilier confer them together in their sens, and the better understand the on by the other." (38)
"Some of the best-selling and most frequently reprinted translations" of the following centuries "were produced with a directly educational intent." (39) John Brinsley, who repeatedly used the same hedge as Milton, translated grammatically in order to make his versions useful to students. The schoolmaster John Clarke wrote in 1730 that he published "Translations as Literal as possible for the Use of Schools." (40) Some printed translations, writes Gordon Braden, "clearly conform to a plan of stringent literalism, tracing the source text word for word, reproducing the very grammatical constructions and even word order of the original. Many of these derive from classroom practice and are published as pedagogical tools, though some appear to be aimed at a more general reading market. Jasper Heywood's Hercules Furens (1561) and Richard Carews Gerusalemme liberata (1594) are in this category; both are printed with the original text on the opposite page, to emphasize its close correspondence to the English." (41)
Close, I would argue, to Milton in purpose is Heywood. In his preface to Hercules Furens, Heywood states that "Neither coulde I satisfie my self, til I had ... in englysh geven verse for verse, (as far as the englysh tongue permits) and word for word wyth the latyn; Whereby I might both make some tryal of my self and as it were tech the little children to goe that yet canne but creepe." (42) Milton lacks Heywood's didactic purpose, but like Heywood he too is making a trial of his abilities, and, we might say, of the English language's ability to mimic a more inflected syntax. (43) In sum, Miltons translation method aligns him with the grammatical translators, but he does not share their didactic intent.
Literal translation was much maligned by Miltons time. "How pedantical and absurd an affectation ... to turn [an author] word for word," George Chapman stressed, and the neoclassicists would echo his complaints. (44) Even a poet as skilled and learned as Ben Jonson, Dryden writes in the preface to Tonson's Ovid, "could not avoid obscurity in his literal Translation of Horace, attempted in the same compass of Lines.... Either perspicuity or gracefulness will frequently be wanting" in such attempts. For metaphrase, Dryden makes clear in a vivid metaphor, is like dancing on a tightrope with your legs bound together--grace is not to be hoped for: "and when we have said the best of it, 'tis but a foolish Task; for no sober man would put himself into a danger for the Applause of scaping without breaking his Neck." (45) Dryden says nothing of Miltons markedly more literal translation, though it had been in print for seven years and Tonson would later include it in his Horace anthology of 1715. One can only speculate as to why. It is an intriguing omission, and the brief front matter to Tonson's Horace sheds no further light on the matter.
Though Dryden's thoughts on literary translation evolved--he seems to have dropped imitation qua translation--he continued to stress the inevitable awkwardness of literal translation. Those who attempted "a litteral and close Translation" found their originals elegant and left them "obscure ... And for a just Reward of their Pedantick pains, all their Translations want to be Translated, into English." (46) This of course is the same charge leveled against Milton: his translation fails as translation, fails to substitute for the original, fails to work on its own terms as comprehensible--much less, attractive--English verse. Ronald Storrs argued that Milton's "rendering ... brings us to the supreme paradox of such attempts: for Miltons might be the best translation, if it were not intelligible only to readers already so steeped in accurate knowledge of the Latin original as to have no need of it." (47) But Milton has not presented his translation as a paraphrastic substitute; he has printed it side by side with the original with an English headnote that invites readers to compare the two. We must read Milton's translation not as a replacement for Horace's poem, but as a parallel text--exactly as the mise-en-page and English headnote of the 1673 Poems invite us to do.
But how does this parallel reading change our reading of Milton's translation? To begin, we can see what he has been able to do, what he has not been able to do, and what--though possible--he has chosen not to do.
Milton follows Horace's word order and periodic sentences to a remarkable degree. Key enjambments and word placements (e.g., simplex munditiis / plain in thy neatness; me tabula ... votiva / me in my vowed picture) are matched precisely. But Milton does not attempt at the start to sunder modifiers from their substantives, as Horace's Latin does. Stylistically, the Latin poem is noteworthy for its "hyperbaton and enjambed lines" which "come thick and fast." (48) The word order of the poem plays hopscotch to perverse levels--at least, from an English-speaking perspective. Indeed, when they first appeared, Charles Martindale remarks, Roman readers may have found Horace's odes "weirdly experimental. In them we meet a style which combines the arty and the prosaic, along with a highly artificial, mannered word order and a structural willfulness which can require a reader to strain in the attempt, taxing or vain, to apprehend." Even in an inflected language, and within a poetic tradition that prized mannered formal devices, Horace's poetry can be syntactically trying. (49) As J. B. Leishman writes in Translating Horace: "Perhaps Miltons youthful version of the Pyrrha Ode ... is the only English translation in which it is really possible to perceive something of what makes the original what it is: that inimitable combination of difficulty and ease, artifice and grace, gravity and lightness. In almost every other translation of an Horatian Ode that I have seen there is too much ease and too little difficulty." (50)
Milton's translation is long on difficulty, short on ease. And not only because of his version's admirable concision: he follows Horaces word order to a perilous degree. But Milton's concision is remarkable: he uses more words than Horace (a necessity in Latin-to-English translation), but far fewer syllables. If we elide "flattering" in addition to words marked with apostrophes, Milton uses twenty-five fewer syllables than the Roman master. (51) He does, however, pad his line on several occasions. He adds the "wreaths" to Pyrrha's golden hair and the explanatory "and storms" to stanza 2's rough seas. He has also doubled the adjectives describing the hanging clothes: "dank and dropping" for Horace's uvida (wet). These expansions work against his scrupulously literal translation method, and describing Pyrrha's hair "in wreaths" creates a problem, as I discuss below.
We can almost see Milton testing his wits against the Latin syntax. In the second stanza he comes across adjectivel adjective2 noun1 noun2 (aspera nigris aequora vends)--impossible to replicate in English, but not to imitate--and so he opts for a classically inflected chiasmus: "Seas / Rough with black winds." This reads quite well, brilliantly even. Interestingly, Milton is probably cribbing, and improving upon, Henry Rider's 1638 translation:
Alas, how oft shall the proud boy repent Thy false faith, and contemned deities, And look with wonderment on those thy seas Made rough with black winds, who (too credulous Boy) Does thee now as some golden prize enjoy? (52)
Rider's version hugs the Latin syntax very closely at times (e.g., "Wretched are they to whom untride you shine" for miseri quibus intemptata nites), and could therefore have provided a useful model for Milton. It is certainly possible that both Rider and Milton hit upon the same formulation for this phrase independently. But of the many versions that precede Milton's, only the 1649 translation by John Smith also comes close to rendering this phrase in a similar manner: "smooth Seas, with black winds soon made rough." (53) Though hardly ironclad, Milton's apparent use of Rider is the single strongest scrap of evidence for assigning a fairly late (post-1638) date of composition to Milton's translation.
Just after the triumph of "Seas / Rough with black winds," Milton gives us his first free-floating modifier: unwonted, placed in the stanzas last line as in the Latin. Modifiers have been placed by their substantives until this curiously unmoored word. Critics often note that Milton stretches English syntax to the breaking point in stanza 3, but it is here at the end of stanza 2 that the breakdown begins, for this is not, as the Latin-less reader is inclined to take it, "storms unwonted" (i.e., unusual or infrequent storms, a usage available to Milton's contemporaries) but "he ... unwonted." The slender youth is a greenhorn, unaccustomed to storms. Or as Cowley renders it: "Poor unexperienc'd He / Who ne're, alas, before had been at Sea!" (54) This is the first of three moments when the parallel Latin text must clarify which word truly modifies which. Those who cannot read the accompanying Latin are unlikely to suspect they have misunderstood Milton's unwonted. It is not a grave error, for it still makes perspectivai sense--to the boy the storms are unwonted--but Milton's translation turns more misleading in the following stanza.
The English headnote threw down a gauntlet: the author had managed to translate a Latin poem into an English poem "almost word for word." But at the moment Milton translates lines 9-10 truly word for word, his translation becomes thoroughly ambiguous, and the reader must again look to the Latin for clarification. For the English language does not permit Milton's contortions, not on its own terms, not taken by itself: the Latin must be glanced at. At line 9 Milton gives us, "Who now enjoyes thee credulous, all Gold," which matches the Latin exactly, save for switching the order of te fruitur (you enjoys). Upon reflection the line does make sense, but only upon reflection. That is to say, it is only by considering the dramatic context of the poem, not the syntax, that we suspect which modifier to connect with which pronoun. The Latin itself, credulus aurea, is "a compendious expression," a compressed version of something like "credens te auream esse: she now seems to his credulity as golden as her hair." (55)
Miltons solution is daring, if unlovable. And contra Carne-Ross and Martindale, I do not think that "it is perfectly clear in the context that credulous' applies to the observer, 'all Gold' to the person observed." (56) Using contextual clues, a reader might instead think that both adjectives modify the observer, that for a brief moment the credulous youth is, like Pyrrha, golden with happiness before his illusions are dashed. Likewise, a reader beholden to English syntax would think that both adjectives apply to Pyrrha: to the youth, she appears credulous as well as golden; she will honor his trust and be trusting. Milton's iambic meter did not force him to sunder modifier from substantive (e.g., Who, credulous, enjoys thee now, all gold); he has unmoored his adjectives to follow the inflected syntax. D. P. Harding suggests that, by placing "credulous" next to the wrong noun, Milton tries to imitate the classical device of placing words not in grammatical agreement next to each other for ironic effect or to suggest that the words do in fact relate. Perhaps the most famous example of this is the superbo ... triumpho (proud triumph) with which Horace encloses a defeated but unhumbled Cleopatra in Odes 1.37, a triumph which grammatically belongs to Octavian. (57) It is an intriguing suggestion. Pyrrha, as her hair style suggests, is apparently innocent, seemingly credulous.
The syntactic ambiguity continues into the next two lines. Here Milton gives us the one perfectly literal rendering of the Latin: "Who always vacant always amiable / Hopes thee." In the Latin both adjectives are accusative, and thus cannot modify the youth (qui/who). In Milton's English, "vacant" could go with "Who," and "amiable" with "thee." And this would make contextual sense: The dumb (vacant) boy always hopes Pyrrha will be amiable. Here, the syntactic problem is compounded by a problem of diction: vacant is a vague modifier with multiple meanings. At least one critic has seen this seemingly dubious word choice as a strength: Scodel argues that, in addition to matching Horace's word order, Milton is also vague in diction where Horace himself is. The former's vacant matches the latter's nebulous vacuam, which could in theory mean empty (of storms?), free (at leisure), unattached (sexually available), or even worthless. "Milton omits the explanatory glosses that translators normally provide, forcing his reader to interpret terms contextually as they would in reading Horace himself." (58) But that most early modern translators take Horace's vacuam to mean available--it is, after all, an erotic lyric--suggests that what is quite hazy in Milton is relatively clear in Horace.
In the final stanza, John Hale argues, Milton "abandons Latin syntax, rejoining the adjectives with their nouns" and thus "the translation at its close is moving out of the straightjacket of metaphrase into something freer." (59) This is true to a point. Milton's second stanza includes one pronoun unmoored from its adjective; his third stanza includes two. But Horace's final sentence includes four nouns that are modified, none of them next to their modifiers. Milton could not follow the Roman this far, and modern readers are likely to find the lines difficult enough, for Milton does replicate the syntax to a striking degree by beginning with the emphatic accusative (Me), followed precisely by the noun phrase, verb, and archaic infinitive. Compounding the difficulty is the fact that Milton does not expand, domesticate, or in any way gloss the final action of the poem--the classical convention of a survivor dedicating clothes and tools in a temple, as in Horace's humorous Odes III.26--though in this Milton is not alone.
Horace's poem plays with a shipwreck metaphor, in subtle as well as obvious ways. The word religare, to tie up (what Pyrrha is doing to her hair in line 4), could be used for mooring ships--a lovely nautical hint that we only catch the second time around. Pyrrha has rigged up her hair. (60) The youth is drenched now with cologne, much as the more experienced speaker of the poem is soaked with seawater. The flaming-haired woman is taking the youth out over dark seas. All that glitters is not gold; and how quickly the shining (nites) Pyrrha pivots from golden (aurea) to tempestuous (aurae). Milton conveys a respectable amount of that wordplay with the sonic chime of gold and gales. (Can one really do better in English? (61)) But he weakens the sea-flash of nites (shine) to a generic "seem'st fair." Like intemptata (untried), nites "suits both the girl and the sea." (62) The English translator should capture that.
Fanshawe's stripling "discomposes" Pyrrha, who will all too soon make him a "poor cuckold." Hornecks perfumed youth intends to "sport" with Pyrrha "on Rose-Beds sunk in Ease." The sexual element, it should be said, is "tactfully inexplicit" in Horace. (63) C. H. Sisson writes that, if Fanshawe's cuckold is "a rather sledgehammerly treatment of the Latin, it is hardly more redolent of his own Cavalier milieu than Milton's curious 'stern god of sea' is of Milton's Puritan retirement. And perhaps ... 'discomposes' is a more exact word for Horace's urget, than Milton's too vague 'courts'." (64) I do not quibble with Sisson's second point: courts is too decorous a term for what the slender boy is doing to Pyrrha. In the context, the word would seem to mean "ply," but urgere is resolutely physical: to urge, to press, to push, to drive, to beset, etc. The sexual charge is continued by the verb fruitur, which also carries a legal connotation (to possess) that is continued by vacuam (untenanted). The boy is, we might say, working on Pyrrha, not realizing that she is the one in charge. Indeed, given the nautical imagery of the poem, the word becomes ironic: Pyrrha is the one driving things, not the boy. (Hornecks version highlights that switch: the young would-be seducer is the one being snared.) But I am not so sure that Milton's "stern god of sea" whiffs of austere Puritanism.
The phrase has often drawn comment, with critics complaining that the modifier is both inaccurate and Puritanical. But the word is not so far from Horaces potenti as it may at first appear. The word's primary sense as a noun is perhaps not irrelevant: the stern is the rear of a ship, and so figuratively could mean "that which guides or controls affairs, actions, etc.; also, from (the metaphor of the ship of state), government, rule." As an adjective, stern could mean cruel, as Shakespeare himself uses the word. Used of the weather, it meant "severe, causing hardship." (65) This is not necessarily then a moral sternness. The word might in fact show Milton at his most humorous in the translation: the narrator has barely survived on the seas of the merciless god of love. With his stern god, Milton surpasses the ancient Roman. The spondee is sonically pleasing--blunt and snub and thudding just when the effect is called for--it makes for a more compact epithet than the literal "god who is master of the sea," or "potent god," and it connotes the nautical in a way that Horace's potenti does not, perhaps to make amends for "seem'st fair." (66)
Even more decried is Milton's earlier phrase, "plain in thy neatness." Horace famously describes Pyrrha and her hairdo as simplex munditiis. (67) The Latin is either seen as oxymoronic--a sort of studied casualness--or as complementary, an unbelabored elegance. In their commentary on Horace, R. G. M. Nisbet and Margaret Hubbard claim that Milton's "plain in thy neatness," is "much too puritanical." (68) I disagree. Neat has become a trivial term in our day. But Milton's neat is not the neat of clean, trim, and tidy, though those meanings existed in his time. It is more the neat of Ben Jonson's "Still to be neat, still to be dressed," the neat of elegance and refinement, which shaded in meaning from artifice, as in the Jonson, into "a simple smartness or elegance." Applied to women, neat meant comely. When objects were neat in Milton's time, it meant that they were "characterized by an elegance of form or arrangement, with freedom from unnecessary additions or embellishments," which is about as close to simplex munditiis as one can get in a single English word. (69) Plain meant unembellished, not unattractive. The words Milton chose here haven't weathered well in our age, but his translation was an accurate one and far from dour.
Yet Milton's "plain in thy neatness" is at odds with his description of Pyrrha's hair as bound "in wreaths." The complex hairdo belies her usual aesthetic, so that the editors of The Complete Milton write "the phrase has been taken as a comment on Horace's own poetic art but in context asserts that Pyrrha is ordinarily plain in adorning herself, which makes the wreaths of her current hairdo all the more suggestive of a new love interest." (70) But Milton has added the wreaths; the hairdo in Horace is a simple one and in full accord with Pyrrha's deceptive aesthetic. It is much like the chaste hairdo that the prostitute (scorta) Lyde sports in Horace's Odes II.11: in comptum Lacaenae / more comas religata nodum (her hair tied back in the neat knot of a Spartan girl). In the Latin, Pyrrha is a femme fatale with a girl-next-door ponytail. Why then does Milton plait her hair? He has either misunderstood what precisely religare denoted, padded his line (thus delaying simplex munditiis until the next stanza, as in the Horace), or intentionally altered Pyrrha's hair for reasons beyond metrical convenience. (71)
To conclude, the translation's form of publication--particularly the facing Latin text and the English headnote--as well as its scrupulous translation method indicate that Milton expected readers to use Horace's Latin to interpret his English: translation and original make a pair. His "Pyrrha Ode" is implicitly directed then at the only group likely to know Latin: educated men. That Milton assumes an educated, bilingual readership should not surprise, given both the greater familiarity with Latin in his time and the fact that he includes original Latin and Italian poems in his Poems. The intriguing implication is that Milton might assume not only a multilingual reader for his foreign-language poems and translations into English, but for his original English-language poems as well. Perhaps the Latinate Milton always has a Latin-fluent reader in mind.
The evidence--the lack of any mention of age to boast about youthfulness, the parallels with Book IV of Paradise Lost, the use of the same uncommon stanza as Fanshawe and the anonymous 1653 translator, a line nearly identical with Rider's--points to a relatively late date of composition for Milton's "Pyrrha Ode." But whatever the truth about when Milton made the translation, his version is a deeply experimental work, exhibiting the same complex construction as these lines from the opening of Paradise Lost:
Him the Almighty Power Hurled headlong flaming from th' ethereal sky With hideous ruin and combustion down To bottomless perdition ... (1.44-47)
The emphatically placed direct object (Him), resulting in an inversion of subject-verb-object syntax to object-subject-verb, enhances the tumbling nature of Satan's titanic fall, and also calls to mind the similarly placed Me of the "Pyrrha Ode." More suggestively, as in the Latin translation, we must hash out our modifiers, work out, that is, that flaming goes with Satan--who is blazing like lightning or a falling star--and not the more closely placed Almighty, though he too is burning, but with holy wrath. Indeed, here perhaps we find, as D. P. Harding divined in the "Pyrrha Ode," Milton successfully employing Horace's diffuse modifiers, which grammatically agree with one noun but by placement and context seem to also modify another. What is different is only the degree to which Milton has pushed the technique in his oddly dancing "Pyrrha Ode."
Loyola University Chicago
(1) D. S. Carne-Ross, Introduction to Horace in English, ed. D. S. Carne-Ross and Kenneth Haynes (New York: Penguin, 1996), 57; Ronald Storrs, Ad Pyrrham: A Polyglot Collection of Translations of Horaces Ode to Pyrrha (Oxford U. Press, 1959), 26.
(2) Archie Burnett, "The Fifth Ode of Horace, Lib. I, and Miltons Style," Milton Quarterly (1982): 68-72; see also A. S. P. Woodhouse and Douglas Bush, A Variorum Commentary on the Poems of John Milton, Vol. II: The Minor English Poems, ed. Merritt Y. Hughes (Columbia U. Press, 1972), 505-7.
(3) On the print history of English translations of Horace in the early modern period, see Joshua Scodel, "Lyric," in The Oxford History of Literary Translation in English, Vol. 2: 1550-1660, ed. Gordon Braden et al. (Oxford U. Press, 2010), 212-47; Tom Mason, "Horace," in The Oxford Guide to Literature in English Translation, ed. Peter France (Oxford U. Press, 2000), 516-19; D. S. Carne-Ross, Introduction to Horace in English, 1-58.
(4) Scodel, "Lyric," 218. On the ode's popularity with translators see also Storrs, Ad Pyrrham, esp. 26-27.
(5) Thomas Hawkins, "To the Reader" (London, 1625), Alv.
(6) Philip Francis, The Odes, Epodes, and Carmen Saeculare of Horace (London, 1743), iii.
(7) Estelle Haan, "The adorning of my native tongue': Latin Poetry and Linguistic Metamorphosis," in The Oxford Handbook of Milton, ed. Nicholas McDowell and Nigel Smith (Oxford U. Press, 2011), 60. Haan reworks this material in Both English and Latin: Bilingualism and Biculturalism in Miltons Neo-Latin Writings (Philaelphia: Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, 2012), 15-25.
(8) On the Horatian translations in Tottel, see Scodel, "Lyric," 213-14; John Ashmore, Certain Selected Odes of Horace (London, 1621), Elv.
(9) Francis, Horace, iv.
(10) Francis, Horace, v and 32. On Milton's borrowings, see John Hale, "Milton as a Translator of Poetry," Renaissance Studies 1.2 (1987): 238-56; William B. Hunter Jr., "Milton Translates the Psalms," PQ 40 (1961): 485-94.
(11) A favorite thought experiment of philosophers throughout the ages for contemplating the mysteries of identity over time, the ship of Theseus is used here by Brome as an intriguing emblem for literary translation. Alexander Brome, "Epistle Dedicatory" in The Poems of Horace (London 1666), A8.
(12) Anonymous, "To the Reader" in Bromes The Poems of Horace 2nd ed. (London, 1671). Brome is not the author of the note.
(13) Brome, "Epistle Dedicatory" in The Poems of Horace, A6v-A7v; A5v.
(14) Stuart Gillespie and Penelope Wilson, "The Publishing and Readership of Translation," in The Oxford History of Literary Translation in English, Vol. 3: 1660-1790, ed. Stuart Gillespie and David Hopkins (Oxford U. Press, 2005), 40.
(15) Mason, "Horace," 518.
(16) Charles Martindale, "Unlocking the Word-hoard: In Praise of Metaphrase," Comparative Criticism 6 (1984): 47-72.
(17) Tonson also published the Earl of Roscommon's Essay on Translated Verse in 1684. Working with Dryden on poetry anthologies was a publishing coup for Tonson, but he would make his fortune publishing none other than Milton. See Kathleen M. Lynch, Jacob Tonson: Kit-Cat Publisher (U. of Tennessee Press, 1971), 126.
(18) Specifically, Milton has the singular munditie for the plural munditiis, quoties for quotiens, and intentata for intemptata. This assumes that the Latin text printed in the 1673 Poems is the same Latin Milton worked from, which might be unlikely if Milton did in fact translate the ode decades earlier. See Haan, "Latin Poetry and Linguistic Metamorphosis," 59; and Woodhouse and Bush, Variorum Commentary, 2:502-5.
(19) John Carey's translation, in John Milton: Complete Shorter Poems, ed. John Carey (Harlow: Pearson, 1997), 99.
(20) On Horatian paratext, see Lowell Edmunds, "The Reception of Horace's Odes," in A Companion to Horace, ed. Gregson Davis (Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), 337-66.
(21) John Smith, The Lyrick Poet-Odes and Satyres (London, 1649), B4.
(22) For example, the Latin headnote (in translated form) reappears in the 1684 translation by J. H. A similar English and Latin headnote are both in Fanshawe (1652). Paratext was poached no less than choice lines. The genealogy of the Latin headnote no doubt traces back beyond Bond: further research here could establish the headnote's ultimate source in continental scholarship, which could in turn shed light on Milton's own erudition and scholarly research when translating.
(23) Penelope Wilson, "Lyric, Pastoral, and Elegy," in The Oxford History of Literary Translation in English, Vol. 3: 1660-1790, ed. Stuart Gillespie and David Hopkins (Oxford U. Press, 2005), 174.
(24) Gordon Campbell, A Milton Chronology (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997), 214.
(25) Carey, Milton: Complete Shorter Poems, 99.
(26) D. P. Harding, I find, made the same connection: "I suggest, somewhat tentatively, that Milton, in this strangely troubling description of Eve, was seeking the richly ambiguous effect of Horace's untranslatable phrase, simplex munditiis, in the famous Fifth Ode to Pyrrha. 'Unadorned, adorned the most,' the yellow-haired Pyrrha combines voluptuousness with a sophisticated simplicity to conquer and betray the hearts of men." D. P. Harding, The Club of Hercules: Studies in the Classical Background of Paradise Lost (U. of Illinois Press, 1962), 72. On the connection between Milton's "Pyrrha Ode" and Paradise Lost, see also Rosemary M. Nielsen and Robert H. Solomon, "The Faith of Lover and Reader in Odes I.5: Horace and Milton," Revue beige dephilologie et d'histoire 67.1 (1989): 75-92. For a recent interpretation of the cited Paradise Lost passage that considers both Miltons portrayals of hair and the early modern significance of hairstyles, see Stephen B. Dobranski, "Clustering and Curling Locks: The Matter of Hair in Paradise Lost" PMLA 125.2 (2010): 337-53.
(27) William Kerrigan, John Rumrich, and Stephen M. Fallon, ed., The Complete Poetry and Essential Prose of John Milton (New York: Modern Library, 2007), 16. On the practice of translation and imitation in the classroom as it relates to Milton, see chap. 1 of Harding, The Club of Hercules; Haan, "Latin Poetry and Linguistic Metamorphosis"; chap. 1 of Haan, Both English and Latin; Introduction to The Complete Works of John Milton, Vol. III: The Shorter Poems, ed. Barbara Kiefer Lewalski and Estelle Haan (Oxford U. Press, 2012), lxxxiv-lxxxviii.
(28) Carne-Ross, Introduction to Horace in English, 57.
(29) On Milton's curious constructions with multiple modifiers, see F. T. Prince, The Italian Element in Miltons Verse (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1954).
(30) The editors of The Complete Milton write: "Milton's headnote expresses a pronounced concern with the literalness of these efforts. Deviations from that standard must wear italics ... This fussiness over what is and what is not in the Bible relates these Psalm translations to seventeenth-century controversies over the metrical Psalter" (110).
(31) J. B. Leishman does precisely this in his Translating Horace when he renders the "Pyrrha Ode" "into the original metre." The result is predictably awkward: "Who, where clusters of rose guard, is the slender youth / clasps you now with a sweet-scented embrace in cool / grotto? Who's it being wreathed for, / this time, Pyrrha, the golden hair." J. B. Leishman, Translating Horace (Oxford: Bruno Cassirer, 1956), 115.
(32) On the issue of prosody, see Derek Attridge, Well-Weighed Syllables: Elizabethan Verse in Classical Metres (Cambridge U. Press, 1974), 128-29; Woodhouse and Bush, Variorum Commentary, 2:504-5; Edward R. Weismiller, A Variorum Commentary on the Poems of John Milton, Vol. VI: The Prosody of the English Poems, ed. Merritt Y. Hughes (Columbia U. Press, 1972), 1023-26.
(33) As Estelle Haan writes in Both English and Latin, Miltons translation "actually looks Horatian. Comparable perhaps is Marvell's An Horatian Ode Upon Cromwell's Return from Ireland, which like Milton's translation seeks to replicate (on a visual level) Horatian stanzaic structure" (19-20). For a discussion of Marvell's stanza, see Haan, Andrew Marvell's Latin Poetry: From Text to Context (Leuven U. Press, 2003), 53-55.
(34) Raymond Dexter Havens, The Influence of Milton on English Poetry (Harvard U. Press, 1922), 560.
(35) Robert Southey, "Dr. Sayers's Works," Quarterly Review 35 (1827): 175-220.
(36) Thomas Norton, "The translator to the readers," in English Renaissance Translation Theory: MHRA Tudor and Stuart Translations, Vol. 9, ed. Neil Rhodes et al. (London: Modern Humanities Research Association, 2013), 121; italics mine.
(37) Abraham Fleming, "Preface to The Bucolics of Virgil," in Rhodes, English Renaissance Translation Theory, 428. On literal literary translation, see Flora Ross Amos, Early Theories of Translation (New York: Octagon Books, 1973), 109-32.
(38) William Bullokar, Preface to The Works of William Bullokar, vol. 4, Aesop's Fabl'z (London, 1585), Blv.
(39) David Hopkins and Pat Rogers, "The Translator's Trade," in The Oxford History of Literary Translation in English, 3:88.
(40) In Ludus Literarius (1612), John Brinsley writes, "labour to express lively not only the matter, but also the force of each phrase, so near as the propriety of the tongue will permit." Rhodes, English Reaissance Translation Theory, 447, italics mine. Clarke is qtd. in Hopkins and Rogers, "The Translators Trade," 89.
(41) Gordon Braden, "Translating Procedures in Theory and Practice," in The Oxford History of Literary Translation in English, Vol. 2: 1550-1660, ed. Gordon Braden et al. (Oxford U. Press, 2010), 89-90.
(42) Jasper Heywood, Hercules Furens (1561), Aiii-Aiiiv, EEBO; italics mine. See also Gordon Braden, "Tragedy," in The Oxford History of Literary Translation in English, Vol. 2: 1550-1660, ed. Gordon Braden et al. (Oxford U. Press, 2010), 267. Heywood's Seneca, Braden notes, is harder to understand when it is printed without the Latin en face with Heywood's English.
(43) Miltons "experimentalism" through translation is discussed by John Hale, Miltons Languages: The Impact of Multilingualism on Style (Cambridge U. Press, 1997), esp. 67-81. See also Prince, The Italian Element in Milton's Verse, for its discussion of Miltons imitations of Italian syntax.
(44) George Chapman, "The Preface to the Reader in The Iliads of Homer (1611)," in Rhodes, English Renaissance Translation Theory, 372.
(45) John Dryden, "Preface to Ovid's Epistles," in The Works of John Dryden: Poems 1649-1680, Vol. I, ed. Edward Niles Hooker et al. (U. of California Press, 1956), 116.
(46) John Dryden, "Contributions to Examen Poeticum," in The Works of John Dryden: Poems 1693-1696, Vol. IV, ed. A. B. Chambers et al. (U. of California Press, 1974), 370.
(47) Storrs, Ad Pyrrham, 26.
(48) Daniel Garrison, Horace, Epodes and Odes: A New Annotated Latin Edition (U. of Oklahoma Press, 1991), 210.
(49) Charles Martindale, Introduction to Horace Made New, ed. Charles Martindale and David Hopkins (Cambridge U. Press, 1993), 3. In their commentary, R. G. M. Nisbet and Margaret Hubbard downplay this syntactic fussiness, however: "sometimes [Horace] evolves ingenious verbal complexes and occasionally ventures a mannered hyperbaton. Yet the incidence of such phenomena can easily be exaggerated; in general his word-order is more straightforward than that of his contemporary poets" (xxii). R. G. M. Nisbet and Margaret Hubbard, A Commentary on Horace: Odes I (Oxford U. Press, 1970). The debate is reminiscent of another argument: the degree of Milton's Latinity.
(50) Leishman, Translating Horace, 52-53.
(51) Milton uses 32 syllables per stanza to Horace's 39, for an ideal difference of 28 syllables, but includes an extrametrical line and two lines with feminine endings.
(52) Italics mine. Rider's translation can be found in Storrs, Ad Pyrrham, 33.
(53) Smith, The Lyrick Poet Odes and Satyres, B4. The eighteenth-century physician John Nott, in a translation indebted at several points to Milton's version, translates "The seas roughen with dark winds!" See Storrs, Ad Pyrrham, 50.
(54) Included in Storrs and Carne-Ross. Other translators use "unskill'd" (Horneck), "unpractic'd" (Francis), eliminate the modifier altogether, or rework it through expansion: "New to the sex" (William Duncombe), "he, that ne'er felt storms before" (Thomas Creech), etc. A few, such as Henry Rider, translate insolens a "arrogant" or "proud."
(55) Garrison, Horace, Epodes and Odes: A New Annotated Latin Edition, 211.
(56) Carne-Ross, Introduction to Horace in English, 58; Martindale, "In Praise of Metaphrase," 55-56.
(57) The effect can be carried over into English with an ambiguous prepositional phrase: invidens ... deduci superbo / non humilis mulier triumpho [she scorning to be led, this unhumble woman, in a proud triumph],
(58) Scodel, "Lyric," 219.
(59) John Hale, "Milton as a Translator of Poetry," 245.
(60) Intriguingly, Milton seems to be describing Samson's hair, in the midst of a metaphorical conceit about shipwreck, in the same terms:
How could I once look up, or heave the head, Who like a foolish pilot have shipwrecked My vessel trusted to me from above, Gloriously rigged; and for a word, a tear, Fool, have divulged the secret gift of God To a deceitful woman ...
(Samson Agonistes, 197-202, italics mine)
(61) Rider sonically links aurae with amabilem, but the solution is ingenious, given the double meaning of air. "Who hopes thou'lt still be free to him, still faire, / Ignorant of thy alldeluding aire." In Storrs, Ad Pyrrham, 33.
(62) Nisbet and Hubbard, A Commentary on Horace: Odes I, 77.
(63) Ibid., 74.
(64) C. H. Sisson, "Deniable Evidence: Translating Horace," in Horace Made New, ed. Charles Martindale and David Hopkins (Cambridge U. Press, 1993), 264.
(65) Oxford English Dictionary, S.V. "stern," n.3: defs. 1.c.; adj. A.3., A.6,d.
(66) Milton does not preserve Horaces syntactic ambiguity whereby potenti might modify "god" or "sea."
(67) Simplicity vanishes in the versions by Cowley and Aphra Behn (who plays off of Cowley's metaphor). In Cowley, Pyrrha's hair becomes an elaborate wondercabinet, displaying all manner of hidden splendors. One could probably write an essay just on the representation and cultural reception of Pyrrha's hair (sometimes tied back, sometimes flowing, sometimes done up in wreaths, etc.) throughout the centuries. Horneck renders it: "Prithee what Youth would st thou insnare, / Artless and clean, with flowing Hair?" These versions are reprinted in Storrs, Ad Pyrrham.
(68) Nisbet and Hubbard, A Commentary on Horace: Odes I, 76.
(69) Oxford English Dictionary, S.V. "neat," adj.: defs. I.2.a., I.1.b., I.1.a.
(70) Kerrigan et al., The Complete Poetry and Essential Prose of John Milton, 17.
(71) In their Fishean reading of the translation, Nielsen and Solomon argue that Milton deliberately introduces a tension here to put the reader on guard. See Nielsen and Solomon, "The Faith of Lover and Reader in Odes 1.5," 88-89.
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|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||Jun 22, 2016|
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