Difficulties in Translating the "Iliad"
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The paper reveals that few, if any, translations manage to perfectly replicate the encounter with Homer in the original and usually, the translator's talents and aesthetic preferences will result in a new text that adheres more closely to one aspect of the text over another. A further complication the paper discusses is when the translator considers the cultural divide that separates any modern audience from the Homeric milieu; the paper explains that either the translator must bring the modern reader to the archaic text or else modernize the archaic text for the modern reader. The paper points out that in general, extreme approaches are undesirable, since too accurate a recreation of Homer's truly archaic or "Greek" nature, in fact, risks alienating the audience, but too successful an attempt to make the poet "modern" also risks driving away the reader who comes to the work in search of exactly this sense of exotic antiquity. The paper concludes that hardest of all, the translator must be selfless, so dedicated to Homer and to the work in itself that the temptation to indulge in self-expressive detours from the text is absent.
From the Paper:"A full human lifetime now after Virginia Woolf wrote "On Not Knowing Greek," as a society we are farther from hearing Homer in the original than ever. Beyond the circle of dedicated classics departments and "great books" undergraduate programs, the Homeric tongue is once again practically extinct, leaving a vanishing cadre of translators to recollect the ancestral poet to his inheritors from across the gulf of time. This, in turn, only highlights the special burden that translating Homer or any truly archaic text entails.
"Translators of Homer, by definition, set out to traduce or carry the poet's work "across" from one language to another in order to allow those who are ignorant of ancient Greek (we barbaroi, in other words) a vicarious sense of the original text. To achieve this, the translator theoretically digests the text as completely as possible, then recapitulates it with complete fidelity in the modern idiom. As Victoria Poulakis put it, "there are three main considerations: accuracy, sense, and sound" (Poulakis 2), to which we might add the niceties of context and cadence.
"Unfortunately, few if any translations manage in all these respects to perfectly replicate the encounter with Homer in the original. In practice, the translator's talents and aesthetic preferences will result in a new text that adheres more closely to one aspect of the text over another. After all, translators are famously universal traitors to the text they nominally serve."
Sample of Sources Used:
- Arnold, Matthew. "On Translating Homer." In Essays by Matthew Arnold. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1914.
- Jacobson, Roman. "On the Linguistic Elements of Translation." In Language in Literature. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987.
- Knox, Bernard. "Introduction." In The Iliad, tr. Robert Fagles. New York: Penguin, 1997.
- Kopff, E. Christian. "Introduction." In The Iliad, tr. Herbert Jordan. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2008.
- Poulakis, Victoria. "Translation: What Difference Does It Make?" <http://www.nvcc.edu/home/vpoulakis/translation/home.htm>. Site accessed September 12, 2010.
Cite this Term Paper:
Difficulties in Translating the "Iliad" (2013, April 28) Retrieved December 09, 2023, from https://www.academon.com/term-paper/difficulties-in-translating-the-iliad-152770/
"Difficulties in Translating the "Iliad"" 28 April 2013. Web. 09 December. 2023. <https://www.academon.com/term-paper/difficulties-in-translating-the-iliad-152770/>