Allie at A Literary Odyssey is hosting an Odyssey read-a-long this month.
She obviously LOVES this book with a passion, enthusiasm and knowledge that I usually reserve for Jane Austen.
Her opening posts for the read-a-long are truly inspirational (click on the link above to see for yourself).
Allie is reading the Fagles verse translation...which is when I realised that my 30 year old edition of The Odyssey is the Penguin Classic PROSE edition translated by E.V. Rieu in 1946!
I decided to do a little comparison of the opening lines to get me started on my own personal odyssey.
I give you Fagles verse translation (thanks to Allie)...
“Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns
driven time and again off course, once he had plundered
the hallowed heights of Troy.
Many cities of men he saw and learned their minds,
many pains he suffered, heartsick on the open sea,
fighting to save his life and bring his comrades home.
But he could not save them from disaster, hard as he strove—
the recklessness of their own ways destroyed them all,
the blind fools, they devoured the cattle of the Sun
and the Sungod wiped from sight the day of their return.
Launch out on his story, Muse, daughter of Zeus,
start from where you will-sing for our time too.”
And now for good old E.V's prose translation...
The hero of the tale which I beg the Muse to help me tell is that resourceful man who roamed the wide world after he had sacked the holy citadel of Troy.
He saw the cities of many peoples and he learnt their ways.
He suffered many hardships on the high seas in his struggles to preserve his life and bring his comrades home.
But he failed to save those comrades, in spite of all his efforts.
It was their own sin that brought them their doom, for in their folly they devoured the oxen of Hyperion the Sun, and the god saw to it that they should never return.
This is the tale I pray the divine Muse to unfold to us.
Begin it, goddess, at whatever point you will.
I think we have a clear winner!
I was rather curious to see the Christian reference to sin in Rieu's version.
To me this highlights the problems with many translations...the feelings and opinions of the translator often filter their way into the work. Feelings and opinions not intended by the original author or even relevant to the times of the story.
"start from where you will-sing for our time too" is magic stuff.
It melts into you. It prepares you for the storytelling ahead.
You feel yourself relax; mentally you put up your feet, wiggle down comfortably into your seat & sip your mulled wine.
It weaves the past, present and future into one moment.
Let the story begin....