1. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England

    The Classics Thread

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Lemex, Aug 21, 2013.

    It seems there are a few people here who seem interested in the Classics, so I thought I would start a thread for people to talk about the area of Classical Literature that I am ashamed to admit I don't know as much about as I would like to. It's also a subject I'm very interested in.

    I've started this thread so that people could share what they know about Greek Drama and to suggest translations, editions of this genre, and to share their knowledge of individual plays and writers.

    To start: I highly recommend Robert Fagle's translation of the Thebian Plays of Sophocles, it has three amazing plays in it ('Antigone', 'Oedipus Tyrannus', and 'Oedipus at Colonus') translated beautifully, and it has a fantastic introduction by Fagle's friend Bernard Knox. Anyone interested in getting into Greek Drama would find few better gateways into it.

    What do you guys suggest?
     
  2. 123456789
    Offline

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    6,345
    Likes Received:
    3,091
    Those plays are good and so if Fagles, obviously.

    I've only read William Arrowsmith's translation of Satyricon, by Petronius, but that is he best piece of classical literature I've read. Movies like to portray Rome as very stern and hard, and but this work gives you a very different vibe. It's not Greek but you did say Classical lit.

    After that, I'd have to go with Homer's Odyssey, which for some reason, just feels really unique me to compared to anything else, despite it being so old. I forget which translation I read, but I know I looked at two, and settled for the one that liked to use "rosy dawn".
     
  3. Voltaire
    Offline

    Voltaire Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2013
    Messages:
    36
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    Brisbane Australia
    Seneca's version of the Trojan Women would have to be my favorite piece of drama, even literature, ever.

    I just love how heart wrenching the stories are, obviously they are tragedies but they are more profound to me than anything of Shakespeare's I have read.

    Read everything by Euripides if you already haven't.
     
  4. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    That's what I found reading Sophocles. Even with 'Antigone' I felt there was just more going on than with anything by Shakespeare.

    I will have to, though I'll be getting to that after I've read Aeschylus's trilogy 'The Orestia', which is just higher on my reading list because of an A Perfect Circle song. It really does grate on me that Greek Drama is the one area of classical literature I don't know very much about.

    Have you ever read Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy? His early work of philosophy and literary criticism on Greek Drama?
     
  5. Voltaire
    Offline

    Voltaire Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2013
    Messages:
    36
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    Brisbane Australia
    It is on my list, I just want to try re reading Zarathustra first. I don't want to make a habit of reading Nietzsche but missing the point of what he says.
     
  6. IronPalm
    Offline

    IronPalm Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2013
    Messages:
    301
    Likes Received:
    21
    I have read the Three Theban Plays, Odysseus, and The Iliad, but the best version I have ever read was a Russian version of The Iliad.

    There was a very different attitude towards translations in Russia. In English-speaking countries, it's usually a straightforward, highly literal translation of the original classic. This occurs even when they completely mangle idioms in the process, and transform beautiful language into utter shit.

    In this particular version, they had hired a Russian poet to write a rhyming, epic poem, recounting all the events of the Iliad. Factually, it was the exact same thing, but the word choices and language was very different from a literal translation. While some purists would denounce this, I loved it. It conveyed to me all the majesty and excitement of the story that the English version never quite managed.

    I don't know if anything like this has been done in English, but if it has, I'm greatly interested in reading it.
     
  7. Voltaire
    Offline

    Voltaire Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2013
    Messages:
    36
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    Brisbane Australia
    It is so frustrating that all the texts of great writers must be read in their language if one wishes for greater appreciation. Yet if one takes the time to learn their language well enough it is all the more worthwhile time-sink.
     
    Lemex likes this.
  8. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    I find this too. It's why I started to learn Latin, I wanted to read Virgil as he really was. I started learning it by translating the first Eclogue, and I've been working on translating the others since.
     
  9. Dante Dases
    Offline

    Dante Dases Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2008
    Messages:
    3,446
    Likes Received:
    142
    Location:
    West Yorkshire, England
    While I was in Wales a few weeks back I picked up a second-hand copy of The Theban Plays. The book itself (for a 50-year-old paperback) was in great nick, which is less than can be said for the use of language. The translation was by Watling, who in his introduction explained how he'd tried to translate literally as much as possible, but who said this could only result in a prose translation which would be a poor use of 'living English'. His solution was to translate into poetic contemporary English, and I have to say it didn't work. It was an easy read (especially as I'd already read another translation Antigone, and had a reasonable overall knowledge of the works before getting started), but there was nothing exciting or organic about it. It was a scholar bringing his work to the people. A million miles from what happened with this Russian poet, by the sounds of it.

    However, I always hear good things about Fagles. I've been considering taking the plunge with his translation of The Iliad for some time now. But first, I have the Heaney Beowulf and some Aeschylus to expand my classical education.
     
  10. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    Fagles is one of my favorite translators and he's always a good, safe bet for a good quality translation. Robert Fitzgerald also get's a lot of respect for his translations of Homer too. I've not read much of Fitzgerald's version, not enough to form an opinion worthy of anyone's time, but I liked what I found for what it's worth. Stanley Lombardo also has translations of The Iliad and The Odyssey that are well regarded but not as respected, those are much bigger risks. For Homer I do suggest starting with Fagles, but my start was with Fagles so take that for the bias it honestly is.

    Heaney's Beowulf, though, which edition of it do you have? If you have the Norton Critical Edition then I can assure you, you've made an amazingly good choice. I love that book. Heaney's version isn't bad at all, and his use of obscure words to reinforce the idea of a multi-aged poem was one of the things I like most about it. How he was able to use words like 'tholed' for instance.
     
  11. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    Note: I've changed the name of this thread to accommodate not just Greek literature and Drama specifically. I'm honestly thrilled to see a discussion on Classic literature emerging and I want to encourage it.
     
  12. Voltaire
    Offline

    Voltaire Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2013
    Messages:
    36
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    Brisbane Australia
    I hope to read "Medea" later this week, also "The Frogs", then I can add something more to this thriving conversation ;)
     
  13. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    I visited the Greek island of Kos for a few weeks once and there was a production of 'Frogs' being preformed in Ancient Greek by a travelling theature company. I didn't go, I don't understand Ancient Greek, but how I wish I had gone now!
     
    Voltaire likes this.
  14. Dante Dases
    Offline

    Dante Dases Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2008
    Messages:
    3,446
    Likes Received:
    142
    Location:
    West Yorkshire, England
    I haven't actually bought it yet - it's on my list for my next Amazon binge. But I'll remember that. I have read one edition of it from before the dawn of time (or paperbacks, if you prefer), but it felt a bit stilted and nineteenth century even though I enjoyed it. I just happen to quite like Heaney, and need to get back into his work.
     
  15. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    In that case there is, if you enjoy giving yourself a challenge, a book published by Penguin Classics called Beowulf: A Glossed Text, it gives you the original Angle-Saxon text on one page and notes on the meaning of each word on the adjoining page. Essentially it gives you everything you need to teach yourself Angle-Saxon by having you translate the poem yourself. I have a friend who calls it 'DIY Beowulf' and carries it with him pretty much wherever he goes.

    I recommend the Norton Critical Edition because, along with the poem itself being an authoritative version of the text, it also has a wealth of extra information and essays that really help enhance the poem for you, including J.R.R. Tolkien's 'Monsters and Critics'.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2013
  16. Dante Dases
    Offline

    Dante Dases Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2008
    Messages:
    3,446
    Likes Received:
    142
    Location:
    West Yorkshire, England
    I'll have a look into that. Thanks!
     

Share This Page