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discovering and identifying them is, of course, much greater than in regard to those in Ionia, where the one on the road from Ephesus to Phocffia may be discovered ere long. About five miles to the north-east of Berytus (Beirut), by the side of an ancient road, near the mouth of the river Lycus (Nahr-el-Kelb) a number of sculptures are cut in the living rock, which were discovered many years ago and then believed to be the monuments of Sesostris mentioned by Herodotus. They were for the first time published from drawings of Count de Bertou, and discussed by Dr. Lepsius. Six of these reliefs are unquestionably of Persian origin, and the three remaining ones are as unquestionably Egyptian. In the hieroglyphics of the latter even the name of king Sesostris occurs twice, according to Dr. Lepsius". But notwithstanding this, the monuments cannot possibly be those which Herodotus saw, for first of all, those which Herodotus saw were o-njXat or pillars'", whereas here we have reliefs cut into the rock. We may also take it for granted, that he would not have omitted to mention the Persian sculptures, if he had seen them, and they must have been there in his time, since some of them at least were executed under Cambyses. The existence of Egyptian monuments in Syria cannot surprise us, since Egyptian kings of the historical ages made conquests in that country at different times; but there is little hope of ever discovering the pillars of Sesostris which Herodotus saw, since most of those which the Egyptian conqueror was said to have erected in various countries, had disappeared as early as the time of Herodotus himself.
9 Annali dell Institute di Corres. Archeol. 1838. Vol. x. p. 12. foil. See also Landseer, Sabean Researches, No. 9, to which my attention was drawn by Mr. Rose.
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Mr. FRERE'S TRANSLATIONS OF ARISTOPHANES.
The Acharnians, Knights, Birds, and Frogs, of Aristophanes, translated by the Right Honourable John Hookham Frere. 4to. (Privately printed.)
The reproduction of the comedies of Aristophanes in a modern language seems almost a hopeless task. The endless variety of his style and metres, the exuberance of his witty imagination, the richness and flexibility of the Attic language in which he wrote, and the perpetual by-play of allusions, often intimated merely by a pun, a metaphor, or a strange new compound, to the statesmen, poets, political events and institutions, manners, and domestic history of his times, appear to make it equally difficult to execute a poetical version which shall adhere to the letter, or render the spirit of the original. Mr. Mitchell's translation is lively and clever; and it is the work of a person who has carefully studied the author, and has an extensive acquaintance with Greek literature. By his translation, and his subsequent editions of several of the original plays, he has rendered valuable assistance to the student of Aristophanes. But, considered as a literary work, his translation does not satisfy us. The language is often forced and unnatural; there is an absence of the ease and idiomatic expression by which the Attic poet is so remarkably distinguished; and there is a visible endeavour to supply the graceful freedom and comic luxuriance of the original by strain and exaggeration'. Mr. Frere, (who had many years ago exercised his poetical powers upon Aristophanes, and who wrote a fair and indeed favourable critique of the first volume of Mr. Mitchell's translation, in the Quarterly Review',) judged rightly that the success of previous translators had not rendered his efforts superfluous. He has accordingly been induced to print, for private distribution, his versions of the Acharnians, the Knights, the Birds, and the Frogs. If any body was likely to meet with success in this undertaking, it was the author of the admirable imitation of Darwin in the Antijacobin—an imitation which bids fair to be much more longlived than its original—and of the excellent poem of Whistlecraft, the model on which Lord Byron wrote his Beppo, but which, by some accident of popular taste, has never obtained a reputation equal to its merits. And in our opinion Mr. Frere's success, as a translator of Aristophanes, has been greater than might have been reasonably anticipated. Of the plays which he has selected, three, the Knights, the Birds, and the Frogs, are certainly the most difficult which a translator could deal with. Moreover, what he has undertaken he has performed; the entire play is rendered, so that the merely English reader can form a complete judgment of the original: no scenes are omitted as unmanageable. Of the four plays, the translations of the Frogs and Knights appear to us to be the best: the latter, in particular, gives an excellent idea of this masterpiece of comic invective; the fcw6rr)s of which was never exceeded by any of the vituperative effusions of those great masters of the art, the Attic orators.
1 In order to avoid any appearance of
From earth's centre to the sea,
While seated high
you keep an eye
Upon the tolls, like those who spy,
If tunny fish be coming!'
There is nothing in the original which at all resembles the passages which we have printed in italics. Moreover, they are not at all in the style of the original, where the object of making Cleon ridiculous is consistently pursued. The last part is faithfully rendered, but so as to be scarcely intelligible. It is given by Mr. Frere with considerable expansion,
but with perfect fidelity to the meaning of the original.
You that on the rocky seat of our assembly
raise a din, Deafening all our ears with uproar, as you
roar and howl and grin; Watching all the while the vessels with
revenue sailing in. Like the tunny fishers perch'd aloft, to look
about and bawl, When shoals are seen arriving, ready to
secure a hawl.'
« Vol. XXIII. p. 474—505.
As the work is not published for sale, we propose to give such full selections as will enable the reader to judge for himself of the goodness of the translation. Before however we proceed to do so, we repeat, that the difficulty of worthily representing Aristophanes in a modern language can scarcely be overestimated; and it can only be appreciated by one who is acquainted with the original. The Germans, as far as we know, are almost the only continental nation who have attempted any other translation of Aristophanes than a literal prose version for the use of school-boys . All poetical translations from the ancient classical languages are difficult; as the failure of great poets, (such as Dry den and Pope,) and the rarity of even tolerable success, evince. But a poetical translation of Aristophanes is peculiarly difficult. Comedy is harder of translation than tragedy; it is easier to copy the lofty and serious than the ridiculous and familiar. That Menander's grace and elegance was not easily transferred into another language, is proved by the comparative failure of Terence; whom Julius Caesar, doubtless disposed to speak of him as highly as he could, only ventured to call half a Menander. If however the equable flow and domestic plots of Menander were hard to imitate, what is to be thought of the grotesque, fantastic, and local humour of Aristophanes? The translation of Goethe's Faust is no easy task, as many modern poets have found. It has not, we believe, been attempted in French or Italian verse. But Faust is far less obscure, and less tinged with the colours of time and place, than the Knights or the Frogs. Moreover, there is an affinity in modern metres and forms of words, which renders the transfusion of a poem from one living language to another easier than the transfusion from a dead language.
Having made these few preliminary remarks, we proceed to give some extracts from the translation of the Acharnians.
We pass over the opening scene in the ecclesia, and the first entrance of the chorus of war-loving Acharnians, until we reach
8 The Biographie Universelle, torn. n. p. 455, states that in the complete translation of the plays of Aristophanes by Poinsinet de Siviy, some plays are translated in verse, and others in prose: and
that the translation of Brottier (the nephew of the translator of Tacitus) is entirely in prose. We have not seen either translation.
the scene where the peaceable Dicseopolis, having made a separate truce with the Lacedaemonians, comes forth with his family and slaves to lead a procession to Dionysus upon his farm. He then addresses the following song to Bacchus, which seems 1o us to have gained rather than lost by its change of dress, (v. 259.)
Die. Follow behind thou, Xanthias, with the pole,
(Sings.) Leader of the revel rout,
Of the drunken war and shout,
Crazy mirth and saucy jesting,
Frolic and intrigue clandestine!
Half a dozen years are past,
Here we meet in peace at last.
All my wars and fights are o'er:
Other battles please me more,
With my neighbour's maid, the Thracian,
Found marauding in the wood;
Seizing on the fair occasion,
With a quick retaliation
Making an immediate booty
Of her innocence and beauty.—
If a drunken head should ache,
Bones and heads we never break.
If we quarrel over night,
At a full carousing soak,
In the morning all is right;
And the shield hung out of sight
In the chimney smoke.
Diceeopolis is however interrupted in his thanksgiving, by the irruption of the chorus, to whom he is compelled to plead for his life. Before he commences his defence, he thus laments their violence: (v. 352.)
Tis passing strange
That human nature should be so possest
With a propensity to pelt and bawl;
When gentle easy Reason might decide
All their debates with order, peace, and law;
When I myself stand here resigned, and ready
To plead my cause before a chopping block,
To vindicate the Spartans and myself.
Yet I, forsooth, can feel the fear of death.
And hold my life as dear as others do.