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to exclude from the translation anything which I found in the text of my author.
There is another point in regard to which I have taken equal pains, and which seems to me equally important. I have endeavored to preserve the simplicity of style which distinguishes the old Greek poet, who wrote for the popular ear and according to the genius of his language, and I have chosen such English as offers no violence to the ordinary usages and structure of our own. I have sought to attain what belongs to the original, -a fluent narrative style, which shall carry the reader forward without the impediment of unexpected inversions and capricious phrases, and in which, if he find nothing to stop at and admire, there will at least be nothing to divert his attention from the story and the characters of the poem, from the events related and the objects described. I think that not many readers of the present day would agree with Pope, who, as Spence relates, after remarking that he had nothing to say for rhyme, went on to observe that he doubted whether a poem could be supported without it in our language, unless it were stiffened with such strange words as would destroy our language itself. It is remarkable that this should have been said by one who had given the reading world an edition of Shakespeare, in whose dramas are to be found passages of blank-verse which might be instanced as the perfection of that form of versification, to be excelled in sweetness of modulation, and grace and freedom of language, — without a single harsh inversion, or any of that clumsy stiffening which Pope so disapproved, yet seemed to think so necessary. The other dramatists of the Elizabethan period also supply examples of the same noble simplicity of
language and construction, suited to the highest poetry. In this translation the natural order of the words has been carefully preserved, as far as the exigencies of versification would allow, and I have ventured only upon those easy deviations from it which form no interruptions to the sense, and at most only remind the reader that he is reading verse.
I have chosen blank-verse for this reason among others, that it enabled me to keep more closely to the original in my rendering, without any sacrifice either of ease or of spirit in the expression. The use of rhyme in a translation is a constant temptation to petty infidelities, and to the employment of expressions which have an air of constraint, and do not the most adequately convey the thought. I had my reasons also for not adopting the ballad measure, which some have thought to allow the nearest approach to the manner of Homer. There are, it is true, certain affinities between the style of Homer and that of the old ballad poems of Great Britain.
of Great Britain. Both were the productions of a rude age; both were composed to be sung to public audiences ; and this gave occasion to certain characteristics in which they resemble each other. But the Homeric poems, as it seems to me, are beyond the popular ballads of any modern nation in reach of thought and in richness of phraseology; and if I had adopted that form of poetry there would have been, besides the disadvantage of rhyme, a temptation to make the version conform in style and spirit to the old ballads of our own literature, in a degree which the original does not warrant, and which, as I think, would lead to some sacrifice of its dignity. I did not adopt the hexameter verse, principally for the reason that in our language it is confessedly an imperfect form of versification, the true rhythm of which it is difficult for those whose ear is accustomed only to our ordinary metres to perceive. I found that I could not possibly render the Greek hexameters line for line, like Voss in his marvellous German ! version, in which he has not only done this, but generally preserved the pauses in the very part of the line in which Homer placed them.
We have so many short words in English, and so few of the connective particles which are lavishly used by Homer, that often when I reached the end of the Greek line I found myself only in the middle of my line in English. This difficulty of subduing the thought — by compression or expansion of phrase—to the limits it must fill would alone have been sufficient to deter me from attempting a translation in hexameters. I therefore fell back upon blank-verse, which has been the vehicle of some of the noblest poetry in our language; both because it seemed to me by the flexibility of its construction best suited to a narrative poem, and because, while it enabled me to give the sense of my author more perfectly than any other form of verse, it allowed me also to avoid in a greater degree the appearance of constraint which is too apt to belong to a translation.
I make no apology for employing in my version the names Jupiter, Juno, Venus, and others of Latin origin, for Zeus, Here, Aphrodite, and other Greek names of the deities of whom Homer speaks. The names which I have adopted have been naturalized in our language for centuries, and some of them, as Mercury, Vulcan, and Dian, have even been provided with English terminations. I was translating from Greek into English, and I therefore translated the names of the gods, as well as the other parts of the poem.
In explanation of what may appear to some readers an unauthorized abridgment of the famous simile of the moon and stars at the end of the Eighth Book, I will mention here, by way of note, — the only one which I shall have occasion to make, — that in translating I have omitted two lines of the text, which the best critics regard as not properly belonging to it, but as transferred by some interpolator from another simile in the Sixteenth Book, where they are found in their proper place.
In the intimate acquaintance with the Iliad which the work of translation has given me, an impression has been revived which was made upon my mind when in my boyhood I first read that poem in an English version. I recollect very well the eager curiosity with which I seized upon the translation of Pope when it came within my reach, and with what avidity I ran through the pages which rendered into our language what was acknowledged to be the greatest production of poetic genius that the world had seen. I read with a deep interest for the fate of Troy, and with a kindly feeling toward Hector, whose part I took warmly against the bloodthirsty Achilles ; and great as might have been the guilt of Paris, I read with an earnest wish that Troy might be delivered from its besiegers. When I came to the end of the
I laid it down with a feeling of disappointment. I was not told, save in certain dim predictions, what became of Troy, which the Greeks had mustered from so many regions to besiege, nor what was the fate of the mild and venerable Priam, and the aged Hecuba, and Andromache, the gentle and affectionate wife, and her infant son, — personages for whose fortunes the poet had so powerfully awakened my concern and my curiosity. Helen, to recover whom the war was waged, was still in Troy, and Paris, her effeminate husband, was still alive and unharmed. Why the Trojans, who hated Paris - why Hector and the other sons of Priam, who disapproved of their brother's conduct why Priam himself, who is never said to have approved of it, did not insist that the seducer should restore Helen to her first and proper husband, for whom she seems to have still entertained a lingering regard, I could never imagine. Particularly strange it seemed that Paris was not forced by his countrymen to give up Helen after the combat between him and · Menelaus, in which he was clearly overcome, and by the terms of the solemn treaty which preceded the duel was bound to restore his stolen bride and her wealth to the Greeks. The poet has chosen to leave that circumstance without adequate explanation. The breaking of the truce by Pandarus, and the sudden renewal of the war in consequence, does not explain it, for afterwards, in the Seventh Book, we have Antenor proposing, in council, to restore Helen and her wealth, as a certain way of ending the war, — a proposal which is not adopted simply because Paris objects to it. Paris would not consent to restore Helen, and the Trojan princes and leaders, as if Paris were their absolute monarch, allowed him to have his way, and to prolong a war which Hector foresaw — as he says in the famous interview with Andromache — was to end in the destruction of Troy. The impression to which I refer has been confirmed by the minute study which I have recently made of the poem. I can make nothing of it but a detached chapter of the poetic history of the Trojan war, —