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224 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 251
"After them came the sons of Aeacus, not both together, nor from the same spot; for they settled far from Aegina in exile, when in their folly they had slain their brother Phoeus. Telamon dwelt in the Attic island; but Peleus departed and made his home in Phthia."
"And there came down from the mountain-top to the sea Cheiron, the centaur, son of Philyra, and where the white surf broke he dipped his feet, and, often waving with his broad hand, cried out to them at their departure, “Good speed and a sorrowless home-return!” With him was his wife, bearing Peleus' son Achilles on her arm and she showed the child to his dear father."
"But the journey is not to be shunned, the toil is hard for those who venture.”
“For they are not firmly fixed with roots beneath, but constantly clash against one another to one point…”
“And half of them rowed in turn, and the rest covered the ship with spears and shields. And as when a man roofs over a house with tiles to be an ornament of his home and a defence against rain, and one fits firmly into another, each after each; so they roofed over the ship with their shields, locking them together. And as a din arises from a warrior-host of men sweeping on when lines of battle meet, such a shout rose upward from the ship into the air. Now they saw none of the birds yet, but when they touched the island and clashed upon their shields, then the birds in countless numbers rose in flight hither and thither. And as when the son of Cronos sends from the clouds a dense hailstorm on city and houses, and the people who dwell beneath hear the din above the roof and sit quietly, since the stormy season has not come upon them unawares, but they have first made strong their roofs; so the birds sent against the heroes a thick shower of feather-shafts as they darted over the sea to the mountains of the land opposite.”
“I have two bulls with feet of bronze that pasture on the plain of Ares, breathing forth flame from their jaws… I yoke them and drive them over the stubborn four-acre field of Ares; and quickly cleaving it with the share up to the headland, I cast into the furrows the seed, not the corn of Demeter, but the teeth of a dread serpent that grow up into the fashion of armed men; them I slay at once, cutting them down beneath my spear as they rise against me on all sides. In the morning I yoke the oxen, and at eventide I cease from the harvesting.”
“There is not so much profit, I believe, in counsel as in the might of our hands.”
“Pitiful indeed is our hope when we have put our return in the keeping of women.”
“It was there, at that time, did the Argonauts spread a mighty couch; and thereon they laid the glittering fleece of gold, that so the marriage might be honoured and become the theme of song ... the sacred cave of Medea, where they spread the fine and fragrant linen and brought these two together.”
"I divine that our mother is none else than our ship herself; for surely she bore us in her womb and groans unceasingly with grievous travailing.”
“Now when dawn the light-bringer was touching the edge of heaven…”
Nor have I ever forgotten that the Argonautika is an epic poem, though the two other translations most commonly used, the late E.V. Rieu's Penguin and R.L. Hunter's version for World Classics, tend to make readers (as I have found) do just that, being written in flat and businesslike prose. Rieu turns the Argonautika (as he did just about everything else he touched, including the Four Gospels) into a kind of boys' adventure story, while Hunter, on his own account, seems to have had no higher aim than to provide an updated replacement (as trot or pony) for R. C. Seaton's Loeb.Look, the way to my heart is dunking on Rieu's terrible, terrible translations, okay? Leave me alone.
I should, perhaps, also say a word about the spelling of proper names in this volume. My original idea was to eradicate the all-pervasive Latinization of Greek names that still largely persists in modern scholarship.Good boy. (It continues:
The task proved surprisingly difficult. Many names (Herodotos, Polybios) required only minimal adjustment, but there were others—such as Loukianos (Lucian) and Kirké (Circe)—that almost literally set my teeth on edge by their oddity. For Aristotle, Hesiod, Homer, and Pindar, I retained the familiar form, and I have stuck to Aelian (rather than making him Ailianos), since he was, after all, a Roman to the extent of bearing the first name Claudius. In some cases I compromised; in a few cases I abandoned the struggle altogether. I couldn't, for instance, face calling my main character Iason rather than Jason. [...] So, like many others, I have ended up inconsistent in my usage.but I can't really blame him.) As I've already said, Green's translation of the Argonautika is far better in terms of accuracy than his translation of, say, Catullus's or Ovid's poetry, for example.
For Pelias heard it voiced that in time thereafter 5For the Ancient Greek text I have copied essentially verbatim from Perseus (although I refuse to use their lexicon, because it's terrible).
a grim fate would await him, death at the prompting
of the man he saw come, one-sandaled, from folk in the country:
and not much later—in accordance with your word—Jason,
fording on foot the Anauros's wintry waters,
saved from the mud one sandal, but left the other 10
stuck fast in the flooded estuary, pressed straight on
to have his share in the sacred feast that Pelias
was preparing for Poseidon his father, and the rest of
the gods, though paying no heed to Pelasgian Hera.
τοίην γὰρ Πελίης φάτιν ἔκλυεν, ὥς μιν ὀπίσσω 5This is probably the most technically accurate translation by Peter Green that I've ever read. (I mock because I love, I promise.) The majority of the rest of the epic continues in a similar fashion. For lack of a better word, I'd call this translation more professional than the rest of Green's translation work I've read; sometimes a more colloquial tone is appropriate to adopt in translation, but rarely is this the case when translating ancient Greek epic poetry. It's only barely appropriate when translating Catullus's poetry. (Martial is a different question, but honestly, fuck Martial.)
μοῖρα μένει στυγερή, τοῦδ᾽ ἀνέρος, ὅντιν᾽ ἴδοιτο
δημόθεν οἰοπέδιλον, ὑπ᾽ ἐννεσίῃσι δαμῆναι.
δηρὸν δ᾽ οὐ μετέπειτα τεὴν κατὰ βάξιν Ἰήσων
χειμερίοιο ῥέεθρα κιὼν διὰ ποσσὶν Ἀναύρου
10ἄλλο μὲν ἐξεσάωσεν ὑπ᾽ ἰλύος, ἄλλο δ᾽ ἔνερθεν 10
κάλλιπεν αὖθι πέδιλον ἐνισχόμενον προχοῇσιν.
ἵκετο δ᾽ ἐς Πελίην αὐτοσχεδὸν ἀντιβολήσων
εἰλαπίνης, ἣν πατρὶ Ποσειδάωνι καὶ ἄλλοις
ῥέζε θεοῖς, Ἥρης δὲ Πελασγίδος οὐκ ἀλέγιζεν.