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Evaristo de Sela, traductor d’Homer al gallec

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Iliada - SelaTense dito que os poemas homéricos foron a Biblia do pobo grego. Na Ilíada e na Odisea, buscaban os Gregos as normas da súa moral e as solucións máis axeitadas para cada momento. Os versos de Homero foron a escola da Grecia enteira. Versos houbo dos que se serviron ata para adiviñas e curacións.

A Ilíada, en particular, foi o monumento primeiro e o fundamento de toda a literatura dos Gregos. E tamén foi, pola data e polo seu valor literario, a primeira creación poética de Europa. A súa importancia como obra de arte, foi constatada en tódolos tempos, por veren nela unha das creacións máis grandiosas do espírito humano.

A Ilíada de Homero é un poema épico, que se desenrola dentro da guerra de Troia. Por máis que dela só narra, en conxunto, 51 días do décimo ano de asedio, rematando o poema antes de ser tomada a praza polos Gregos. O seu tema central é a cólera de Aquiles, coas consecuencias funestas, que dela se derivaron. Na súa forma actual, parece que foi composta nun porto xonio da Asia Menor, arredor do ano 725 a. C.

Hoxe sabemos que a guerra de Troia existiu, como crían os gregos da antigüidade, e que a toma da cidade aconteceu no 1250 a.C. (a Troia VII a de Carl W. Blegen). Por certo, esta guerra, para algúns historiadores, foi xa un conflicto entre a Europa e a Asia (Heródoto, Tucídides) e, para outros, foi unha loita entre Gregos, os Acaios de Micenas contras os Eolios de Troia, por rivalidade económica, e só serían asiáticos grande parte dos aliados dos Troianos (André Bonnard). Maila sociedade evocada na epopeia non parece corresponder a esa data do mundo micénico, nin á época da composición da Ilíada, senón máis ben a unha sociedade tal como a que existía no século X a. C.  (M.I. Finley).

Os relatos da guerra de Troia, que, andando o tempo, darían lugar á Ilíada, tiveron, primeiro, durante séculos, unha existencia oral (nos tempos dos aedos ou cantores) e, despois, escrita (cos rapsodos ou recitadores). Homero, ó se valer deles, para crea-la súa epopeia, tal vex destacou máis o modo de vida dunha época determinada. En todo caso, a Ilíada non é froito dunha copia realista da vida, senón o resultado feliz dunha exornación poética, que un extraordinario poeta elaborou.

De Homero, pouco o nada sabemos. Nada está demostrado nin sobre cando viviu, nin en que sitio naceu, nin onde viviu e morreu. O que sobre Homero sabemos é o froito dunha elaboración lexendaria. Mais, iso si, Homero existiu. Existiu un Homero de carne e oso, en Quíos, en Esmirna, ou noutra banda calquera, que planeou e deu forma á Ilíada. Esíxeo así a unidade de conxunto do poema. E demándano os «toques maxistrais», cos que certos personaxes son, ó longo da obra, caracterizados (Schadewaldt).

A Ilíada é a epopeia de Ilio ou da guerra de Troia. Mais non da guerra en si, senón dun momento crítico da mesma. Os Acaios (Arxivos ou Dánaos), que andan na guerra de Troia, son postos en trance dun completo desastre pola cólera e o rancor de Aquiles na contra de Agamenón. A cousa foi que Agamenón, o rei de reis, o comandante supremo da guerra diante dos muros de Troia, aldraxou a Aquiles, o mellor e máis valente guerreiro, arrebatándolle, á vista de todos, a súa parte no botín de guerra. Aquiles, despeitado, retírase ás súas tendas de campaña e deixa de combater. Mais, non parou niso a cousa. Pediulle á súa nai Tetis, que era unha deusa, que fose ter con Zeus, para que o deus dese a victoria ós Troianos, en tanto que Agamenón non reparase a honra do seu fillo. E así foi. Desde entón, déronse catro batallas. A primeira quedou indecisa e a segunda xa foi francamente desfavorable ós Acaios, que lle mandan a Aquiles unha embaixada, para que volte ó combate; mais el non cede, porque aínda segue nas súas. A terceira batalla puxo en grave perigo á armada toda dos Acaios, poilos Troianos, co grande Héctor á súa cabeza, chegaron a prender fogo a unha nave. Aquiles entón consente que vaia ó combate, en vez del, o seu compañeiro Patroclo, armado coas súas armas. E Patroclo rechaza, si, ós Troianos, mais sucumbe na loita, rematado por Héctor, fillo do rei de Troia. E agora dase a cuarta batalla. Aquiles depón, ó fin, a súa cólera e o seu rancor e sae ó combate con novas armas divinas, dando morte a Héctor, do que profana ó cadáver, ó tempo que lle fai honras ó cadáver do seu amigo Patroclo. O propio Príamo, o rei de Troia, ten que se baixar a Aquiles para que lle entregue o corpo do seu fillo. Aquiles accede por razóns de humanidade.

Maila Ilíada é máis ca un poema de guerra ou un poema de paz. A Ilíada é o vivo retrato da totalidade da vida humana. Nela aparece plasmado o destino do home con tódolos seus afáns e traballos. Os heroes actúan constrinxidos por forzas que son superiores a eles. É o poema da dor humana. Por iso xa Platón dixo de Homero, que fora o mestre primeiro e o guía dos tráxicos todos, que detrás del viñeron.

Mais é preciso afacerse un ós rasgos típicos do estilo épico de Homero, que sempre se expresan nun verso único: o hexámetro ou hexapodia dactílica. Abondan as repeticións de partes de verso ou de versos enteiros, dentro dun lento fluír da narración. O poeta non parece ter présa. A acción vai progresando en cámara lenta. As comparacións («coma…», «coma cando…»), que a cada instante saen ó paso, interrompen a marcha, para mostraren máis plásticamente o relato, para recordaren un caso igual ou semellante, para entreteren… Son, case sempre, verdadeiras estampas tomadas da vida real, que ás veces se estenden máis alá do preciso. Todas elas denotan unha profunda observación poética sobre a naturaleza e os seus fenómenos. O epíteto fixo é outro dos rasgos do estilo de Homero. Aí van unhas mostras, por vía de exemplo. A «rhododáctylos Eos»: a Aurora, de dedos de rosa; a «khrysóthronos Here»: a Hera de trono de ouro; a «theá glaukopis Athene»: Atena, a dos ollos brillantes, ou, tal vez, a de ollos de curuxa; os «kare komóontas Akhaiói»: os Acaios, de longas cabeleiras nas cabezas; o «polymetis Odysseus»: o moi enxeñoso Ulises; o «nepheleguereta Zeus»: Zeus, o amontoador de nubes… E tamén, as fórmulas estereotipadas. Velaquí algunhas: «phílen espatrida gaian»: para a súa terra querida; «dúpesen dé pesón»: e estrondou ó vir ó chan; «epos t’éphat’ek t’onómadsen»: e dirixíalle a palabra e chamábao polo seu nome; «hóspháto, meídesen dé»: así dixo e sorriuse; «tón (tén) d’aute proséeipe»: e á súa vez respondeulle; «épea pteróenta proséuda»: palahras aladas lle dirixía…

Con todos estes recursos, a seu tempo ben combinados, «o máis grande poeta», «o máis divino dos poetas», «o pai da poesía», como tantas veces ten sido chamado, entretexeu a epopeia grandiosa da condición humana, coa loita desigual do home, contra a morte e o destino, que só na gloria imperecedeira pode encontrar un vislumbre de triunfo. O «morra o home e fique a fama», dos nosos irmáns portugueses.

O texto da Ilíada consta, na súa vulgata, de 15.693 versos, que dividiu o gramático alexandrino Zenódoto en 24 cantos, dunha extensión semellante, servíndose das letras do alfabeto grego. Cada canto ven cun título e contén un relato seguido. Tratei de buscar, en cada un deles, unhas partes, ou pequenos cadros, facendo a conseguinte división. Na traducción, procurei axustarme ás palabras de cada verso, coa máxima fidelidade, buscando certa harmonía, ante a imposibilidade de imita-lo ritmo orixinal. Non se trata, pois, dunha traducción en verso. É unha traducción palabra a palabra, frase a frase, verso a verso, harmoniosa, o máis rítmica posible, mais sen se ater a métrica algunha. O que máis importa, en todo caso, é interpreta-lo pensamento do poeta. Por outra parte, Homero só é Homero nos seus hexámetros inmortais.

Poden chama-la atención, na traducción, os plurais en -oi e en -ai. Son debidos á transcripción de tódolos nomes propios, onomásticos ou topónimos, no caso nominativo, lidos coma no orixinal. Zeus mantémolo así sempre.

E, para remate, permitídeme que faga unha confesión persoal, xa un tanto homerizada. Pasei tempos esquecidos traballando nesta obra, con toda a miña entrega e coa maior ilusión. Coma cando un habilidoso escultor trata de sacar, nun pau de buxo, tal como e la era, á forza de gubia e paciencia, a cara enrugada daquel barbudo velliño, que morrera afogado nos turbillóns do río, ó librar da morte a un afouto cativo. Ou coma cando un incansable labrego, que quere levar un novo anaco de pan para a boca dos moitos fillos, foza e refoza nun pedreguento monte baldío, cofin de o converter nunha terra de moito pan dar. Pois, asteu me esforcei neste duro traballo. ¡Quería que Homero falase galego! E camiñei por camiños que antes ninguén recorrera. El xa estaba, por certo, a falar en tódalas linguas máis importantes do mundo. Non podía, por tanto, deixar de falar no idioma meigo da doce Galicia.

Evaristo_de_Sela

Evaristo de Sela

Evaristo de Sela

Nota preliminar a
Homero
Ilíada
Versión galega de Evaristo de Sela

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Evaristo González Fernández, con 19 anos, desertou do Rexemento de Artillería Lixeira nº 15 de Pontevedra nos comezos mesmos do golpe de estado do 36. Rexeitando a barbarie fascista, é condeado por deserción a cadea perpetua vítima da represión. Sofre, logo,  unha “odisea” de cárceres e centros disciplinarios ata lle ser conmutada en 1941 a pena por unha “liberdade provisional” nun tempo de terror e morte deseñado e executado polo novo réxime franquista.

Evaristo de Sela, así coñecido por ter nacido no 1917 nesa parroquia de Arbo, viuse loxicamente condicionado pola ditadura, mais neses anos de prisión dedícase heroicamente a estudar, escribir, aprender. En circunstancias tan duras toma os primeiros contactos con varios idiomas, entre eles, o grego.

Era unha persoa de moita sensibilidade, alimentada pola propia Natureza das paisaxes do seu Miño da  infancia e, elaborada pola súa mente de neno atento, pola Beleza que lle medraba interiormente. A isto engadamos lecturas e poesía. E tamén as vivencias, tan difíciles coma os días.

Todo un universo que dá como resultado inquedanzas e creación: unha descuberta do país, Galiza; unha obra literaria, os dous poemarios  Amar (Vigo, 1945) e o póstumoVersos de preso e outras rimas (2007);  unha dedicación, a docencia, o grego. Unha definición: a entrega á cultura mediante, sobre todo, a tradución.

Sobre isto último quero pararme algo. Evaristo de Sela, poeta, profesor, é, fundamentalmente, o tradutor de Homero ao galego. Pensemos no que iso supón. E contextualicemos non só atendendo a biografía e circunstancias penosas que sofriu o noso autor, senón tamén cavilando a clave nacional do feito: aportar para Galiza a Iliada e a Odisea no noso idioma. Unha tarefa inxente, referencial. A consciencia dunha necesidade. Unha contribución clara a favor do país, da súa cultura, da súa lingua, nas coordenadas conflitivas que o marcan. Comparábel en dimensión, por exemplo, a fitos como o colectivo da Biblia na editorial SEPT ou o do Fausto de Goethe a cargo de Lois Tobío. Unhas traducións senlleiras dende o coñecemento do orixinal (neste caso, o mundo homérico, a lingua grega). Non son paráfrases, polo tanto, como resultaron tantas versións dalgunhas literaturas (pensemos, así,  na rusa que lemos dende o francés, v.g. Tolstoi, Gorki, Dostoievski). Son os resultantes textos completos e fidedignos, e non amputacións nin deturpacións (lembremos que pasou con tantas versión de Aristófanes, Lucrecio, Petronio, etc).

Sendo moi complexo traducir Homero, Evaristo de Sela é quen de, todo á vez, ser intérprete-transmisor-intermediario-poeta. Domina a literalidade e o significado do que ten entre mans e sabe “meterse no corazón” do texto (segundo quería Agustín García Calvo). En palabras de Umberto Eco, é capaz de “dicir case o mesmo” ca Homero. E, simultáneamente, frutifica a “lingua meta”, o galego. De lermos estes dous cantares épicos, alicerce do que  convencionalmente se considera “literatura europea”, disfrutaremos grandemente. Tanta comprensión e tanta capacidade de traballo para brindarnos a todas as galegas e galegos a lectura dos case 28 mil hexámetros das ditas obras requiren, sen dúbida, un amor enorme pola nosa Terra.

A este labor titánico, a esta mostra da súa íntima ilusión e do compromiso con Galiza e o galego (en palabras do propio Evaristo: “quería que Homero falase galego!”) hai que sumar –tamén ao noso idioma- as traducións de poetas contemporáneos (Elytis, Seferis, Kavafis, etc) na póstumaPoesía neohelénica (1708-1977), do 2001, así como os aínda inéditos doutros grandes autores do mundo clásico (Demóstenes, Catulo…).

XOSÉ ABILLEIRA SANMARTÍN

Publicat a: SermosGaliza

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Invocació de la Ilíada a la traducció al gallec d’Evaristo de Sela: 

Canta, deusa, a xenreira de Akhileus Peleiades

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Iliada - SelaHomero

Ilíada
Versión galega de
Evaristo de Sela

Consello de Cultura Galega. 1990

ISBN. 8487172598

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La Nausica de Riba i la Nausicaa de Pope, contrastades per Francesc Parcerisas

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– Filla, no et puc les mules negar, ni res que em demanis.
Vés, i els meus servidors t’armaran, i tant, aquell carro
alt, de rodes lleugeres, que te ajustada una vela.
… Tant havent dit, cridà els servidors, que tot d’una obeïren.
I fora, armaren un carro muler, de rodes lleugeres,
i dugueren les mules i van enganxar-les al carro.
I la noia portà de la cambra les teles brilloses
i va estibar-les damunt el bell polit carruatge,
i en un cistell la mare posà delitosa vianda
de tota mena, hi posà requisits, i vi, i va omplir-ne
un bot de pell de cabra; i la noia pujà al carruatge;
i li donà un setrill d’or amb un oli d’oliva llisquívol
per fregar-se després del bany amb les seves cambreres.
I ella aleshores prengué el fuet i les regnes llustroses,
i va flingar, arriant; i hi hagué un esbufec de les mules…

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Homer, Odissea

Nausica E C Ricard

E.-C. Ricard
Gravat al boix per a l’edició de l’Odissea de Carles Riba, 1948

Carles Riba (1948)

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“My child, my darling joy, the car receive;
That, and whate’er our daughter asks, we give.”
Swift at the royal nod the attending train
The car prepare, the mules incessant rein,
The blooming virgin with despatchful cares
Tunics, and stoles, and robes imperial, bears.
The queen, assiduous to her train assigns
The sumptuous viands, and the flavorous wines.
The train prepare a cruse of curious mould,
A cruse of fragrance, form’d of burnish’d gold;
Odour divine! whose soft refreshing streams
Sleek the smooth skin, and scent the snowy limbs.

Now mounting the gay seat, the silken reins
Shine in her hand; along the sounding plains
Swift fly the mules; …

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Homer, Odyssey

Alexander Pope (1726)

Arthur_Rachham- Cinderella

Cinderella retold by C. S. Evans and illustrated by Arthur Rackham, 1919
Arthur Rackham
© Royal Academy of Arts, London

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Francesc Parcerisas - Sense mansSi per un moment aconseguim oblidar que Riba retradueix l’Odissea i que ho fa en un context social d’ensulsiada total, d’anorreament del públic lector, de censura i per­secució polítiques, i que, en conseqüència, allò que pretén és trobar el vers i l’estil culte que faci de la seva nova tra­ducció una pedra angular de la literatura catalana de tots els temps, i si llegim aquest fragment per pur plaer literari, trobarem molts mots i imatges que serveixen per recrear en el lector un entorn molt proper al que ha estat (perquè pos­siblement avui ja no ho és) l’experiència catalana de la cul­tura i del paisatge —al capdavall som a l’altre extrem de la Mediterrània i només ens separen de l’escena original dos milers llargs d’anys—. Si ens hi fixem, hi ha tot un seguit de paraules que serveixen per crear en els lectors la il·lusió d’un poblet com els que coneixem, d’una noia joveneta que puja al carro de casa, apariat pels masovers o treballadors amb la vela per parar el sol, i n’arria les mules, i de la mare que prepara el cistellet amb el menjar que duran a la platja, i fins i tot el comentari de l’oli d’oliva que les no­ies, un cop al sorral, faran servir de crema solar: «Filla», «mules», «no et puc negar res que em demanis», «vés», «té ajustada una vela», «armaren un carro muler», «dugueren les mules i van enganxar-les al carro», «va estibar les teles damunt el carruatge», «en un cistell la mare posà vianda de tota mena», «hi posà requisits, i vi», i «va omplir-ne un bot de pell de cabra», «li donà un setrill», «oli d’oliva», «fregar-se després del bany, arriant»; i hi hagué «un esbufec de les mules»… […]

Francesc Parcerisas

Francesc Parcerisas
(Barcelona, 1944)

El mateix escenari, a la traducció d’Alexander Pope, té tot un altre regust. Tot d’una, Alcínous i Nausica no són uns propietaris rurals benestants (amb títol principesc o sense), sinó una noblesa empolainada i emperrucada en un gran palau, amb servents de calça curta i lliurea, i car­rosses rutilants i corsers que més aviat em recorden les il·lustracions d’Arthur Rackham per a La Ventafocs. La llengua de Pope es recaragola com una cornucòpia i afe­geix detalls i brillantor allà on teníem una gran simplici­tat; els servidors que, en la traducció de Riba, obeeixen com a simples camàlics a Pope són una corrua de criats atents al lleuger moviment de la testa reial, Nausica —la «noia» de la versió catalana— esdevé the blooming virgin (‘una verge en plena ufana’); les «teles brilloses» en la versió anglesa s’han convertit en tunics, and stoles, and robes imperial [túniques, i estoles i vestits imperials]; la mare és la «reina»; la «delitosa vianda», els requisits i el vi són the sumptuous viands, and the flav’rous wines i Pope remata l’oli d’oliva per untar-se el cos després del bany amb un burnish’d gold; / Odour divine!, whose soft refreshing streams / Sleek the smooth skin, and scent the snowy limbs [or brunyit; / aroma divinal!, els suaus i re­frescants rierols del qual / donen llustre a la pell sedosa, i perfumen els membres nivis], una veritable meravella de sonoritat i al·literació (refreshing, streams, sleek, smooth, skin, scent, snowy!), però que ens fa pensar més en els sensuals anuncis de cremes solars que passen a la televisió quan s’acosta l’estiu (tot i que ara les extremitats de les noies solen ser broncejades i no blanques) que no pas en una escena camperola de dinar a la platja com la que ens havia evocat la traducció de Riba.

[…] El que em sembla absolutament cert és que la lectura que Pope fa de l’Odissea creava en la seva ment i, per tant, en allò que ell volia transmetre als lectors del 1726 un món, unes imatges, uns referents, una dicció que no tenen gaire res a veure amb l’escenari mental que Riba va transmetre’ns el 1948. Riba —i encara més descaradament E. C. Ricart, autor dels boixos que il·lustren l’edició ribiana— veia el de­senvolupament d’aquest bellíssim episodi de la princesa Nausica com si el contemplés des de Cadaqués, el Mares­me, Sitges o Vilanova estant: com un dels quadres idealitzants i amorosits de la pintura noucentista. Alexander Pope, per contra, ho va veure sempre des dels miralls dau­rats i les pólvores blanques del barroc anglès. Així doncs, amb Pope i Riba llegim, en un sol llibre, dos moments his­tòrics i dues tradicions i, gràcies a la traducció, ens acostem una mica més a l’imaginari de cada època.

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Francesc Parcerisas
Ulisses amb perruca
Sense mans

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Francesc Parcerisas - Sense mansFrancesc Parcerisas

Sense mans
Metàfores i papers sobre la traducció

IV Premi Interncional d’Assaig Palau i Fabre

Galàxia Gutenberg / Cercle de Lectors
Barcelona, abril de 2013
ISBN: 9788415863113

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Iliad. A Southern African translation. Una Ilíada sud-africana, de la mà de Richard Whitaker

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Iliad Book 1

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Richard Whitaker (Professor emèrit Universitat Cape Town, Sud-àfrica)

Richard Whitaker
(Professor emèrit Universitat Cape Town, Sud-àfrica)

Muse, sing the rage of Peleus’ son Akhilleus,
deadly rage that brought the Akhaians endless pain,
that hurled down to Hades many strong souls
of heroes and made their bodies meat for dogs
and vultures, fulfilling the plan of Zeus,
ever since the day that those two quarreled –
inkosi Agamemnon and godlike Akhilleus.

………Which god made them clash in strife? The son
of Zeus and Leto. Angry with the chief,
he drove plague on the impis – people died
because Atreus’ son dishonoured the priest,
Khryses. He came to the Akhaian ships
to free his daughter, offering rich ransom,
holding in his hands Apollo’s ribbons
around a golden staff, and begged the Akhaians,
above all Atreus’ two sons, their leaders:
‘Sons of Atreus, all well-greaved Akhaians,
may the Olympian gods grant that you sack
the town of Priam and come safely home.
Take this ransom and release my daughter;
respect Apollo the Archer, Zeus’s son.’

………The other Akhaians shouted their assent:
he should respect the priest and take the splendid ransom.
This failed to please the heart of Agamemnon;
he harshly dismissed Khryses, saying roughly:
Kehla, don’t let me find you hanging
around the ships, now or in the future –
the god’s staff and ribbons won’t protect you.
I will not release her – before that, she’ll grow old
in my home, in Argos, far from her native land,
working the loom and servicing my bed.
Go! don’t annoy me and put yourself in danger.’

………He spoke. The old man trembled and obeyed;
he left in silence, beside the roaring sea.
Far away, the kehla prayed
to inkosi Apollo, son of fair-haired Leto:
‘Hear me, god of the silver bow, powerful lord
of Khryse, sacred Killa, Tenedos –
Mouse-god, if ever I built a lovely shrine
for you, if ever I burned fat thigh-bones
of goats or bulls, then grant my prayer: make your shafts
punish the Akhaians for my tears.’SA Iliad - Richard Whitaker

……….He spoke in prayer; Phoibos Apollo heard.
He sped from Olympos’ peak, heart angry,
bow and covered quiver on his shoulders,
arrows clattering in his fury as he moved.
He came on like night. Sitting far from the ships,
he let a shaft fly – his silver bow
clanged terribly. First, he attacked the mules
and nimble dogs, then launched a barbed
arrow at the men, and struck. Corpse
after corpse burned on the funeral-pyre.
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Iliad, I, 1-51
Translation by Richard Whitaker

http://www.southernafricaniliad.com

inkosi: (Xhosa and Zulu)  inkáwsi  a chief, ruler; transf., God; respectful form of address to the foregoing

impi:  (Zulu)  impi   army or regiment of warriors

kehla:  (Zulu)  kéh-khla  elderly man; respectful form of adress to old man

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South African English

By Penny Silva, OED

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The English language in South Africa (SAE) dates from the arrival of the British at the Cape of Good Hope in 1795. As was the case in most colonies, English was introduced first by soldiers and administrators, then by missionaries, settlers, and fortune-seekers. English took root during the 19th century as a southern African language, as a result of the British settlements of 1820 (in the Eastern Cape), 1848–51 (in Natal), and the subsequent rushes to the diamond mines of Kimberley and the gold mines of the Witwatersrand.

Modern SAE is part of a complex linguistic and cultural mix. The Constitution of 1994 recognizes 11 official languages, namely English, Afrikaans, and the nine major African languages (including isiZulu, isiXhosa, seTswana and seSotho), as well as additional ‘community and religious languages’ such as Khoi-San, Telegu, Hindi, Portuguese, Hebrew, and Arabic.

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more at: Oxford English Dictionary on line

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[…]

Omero tremila anni dopoThere is another aspect of contemporary South Africa that provides a point d’appui for the translator of Homer: the fact that an African-language tradition of orally composing and performing poetry still flourishes in this country. The type of oral composition especially practised is the praise poem ad­dressed to significant or powerful individuals. Historically, the highest form of praising has been that directed to the tribal chief, proclaiming his physical and moral characteristics and, particularly, his prowess in battle and his conquests. A praise might consist of just a brief allusive description. But the more the chief accomplished, the more elaborate his praise poem; in the case of a famous individual like Shaka, the 19th-century leader of the Zulus, his praises eventually comprised hundreds of verses.

Over the past decade or so, as South Africans have begun to try to create a common culture that would bridge over the di­visions of the past, a number of poets composing in English have used indigenous, oral, praise poetry as a model. Now I am not suggesting that a whole Homeric epic could be translated in this style. The dense, allusive and abrupt, essentially non-narra­tive manner of the Southern African praise poem (similar in these respects to Pindar), is just too different from the flow­ing, endlessly varied narrative style of Homer. However, certain passages of 19th-century Zulu praise poetry list the killings of enemy chiefs in a way that reminds one of the many catalogues of killings in the battle-scenes of the Iliad. Here, for example, are lines from the praises of the great Zulu chief Shaka, which detail his conquests (“devoured” here is a conventional metaphor for “killed”):

He [Shaka] destroyed Zwide amongst the Ndwandwes,

He destroyed Nomahlanjana son of Zwide,

He destroyed Sikhunyana son of Zwide.

[…]

He devoured Ndimindwane of the Mswelis of the Xulu clan,

He devoured Mdladlama of the Mbhedu clan,

He destroyed Mphezeni amongst the Nxumalos […]

(Cope [1968, p. 112])

It should possible to reproduce the feel of lines like these in translating passages such as the following, from Iliad 14:

First Aias, son of Telamon, stabbed Hyrtios

the son of Gyrtias, leader of the strong-hearted Mysians;

and Antilokhos killed Phalkes and Mermeros,

and Meriones cut down Morys and Hippotion,

and Teukros destroyed Prothoon and Periphetes,

and the son of Atreus then stabbed Hyperenor,

shepherd of the people, in the flank […]    (Il. 14.511-7)

[…]

Richard Whitaker
Translating Homer in an African context
Dins de: Omero tremila anni dopo. Roma, 2002 (pàgs. 529-530).

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[…] in the sublime scene at the end of the poem, Achilles finally lets go of his anger, and shows the deepest human sympathy for a suppliant, the father of his ene­my, Priam (Il. 24.477 ff).

All this, which is well known to readers of Homer, has a particular resonance for a South African in the year 2000. South Africa is only now beginning to emerge from centuries of con­flict and division between the different groups and cultures that live within the country’s borders. The last twenty-five years, es­pecially, have witnessed continual, low-level, civil war. And yet, amid the barbarity, the acts of torture and terror, and the mas­sacres, there have been moments of the most astonishing hu­manity. Men imprisoned for decades, like Nelson Mandela, have shown no bitterness at all towards their gaolers; sworn enemies have come to respect each other’s humanity; torturers have been forgiven by their victims. I am sufficiently old-fashioned to be­lieve, with the Greeks, that poetry can offer us more than just an aesthetic experience, that it can also teach us something. So I would hope, idealistically – perhaps naively – that a Southern African Iliad might strengthen the impulse towards reconcilia­tion in my country, by showing how, against a background of implacable anger and brutality, enemies were reconciled – even if only momentarily – in a great imaginative work nearly three thousand years ago.

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Richard Whitaker
Translating Homer in an african context
Dins de: Omero tremila anni dopo. Roma, 2002 (pàgs. 529-530).

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SA Iliad - Richard WhitakerThe Iliad of Homer

A Southern African translation

by Richard Whitaker

New Voices. Cape Town, Sud-àfrica, 2012

ISBN: 9781920411978

Book available at: http://www.southernafricaniliad.com 

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Omero tremila anni dopoOmero tremila anni dopo

A cura di Franco Montanari

Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura. Roma, 2002

ISBN: 8884980593

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Ilyādhat Hūmīrūs. La Ilíada en àrab de Suleiman al-Bustani

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Suleiman al-Bustani (سليمان البـسـتاني ) 1856–1925) (Bkheshtin, Líban, 1856 - Nova York, 1925).

Suleiman al-Bustani (سليمان البـسـتاني ) 1856–1925) (Bkheshtin, Líban, 1856 – Nova York, 1925).

Sulaymân al-Bustânî (1856-1925) translated the Iliad of Homer into Arabic verses with a 200-page historical and literary introduction to the author and his works. First edited in Cairo 1904, Ilyâdhat Homîros is an impressive comparative study in the literatures of old Greek heathenism and pre-Islamic Arab Jâhiliyya. The book compares the 150 years of “pre-Islamic renaissance” (an-nahda al-jâhiliyya) with poet Imru’ al-Qays at its height 90 years before Islam, to the centuries around Homer in 900 B.C.E. (1: 117). It compares Arab heroes like `Antara to Greeks of Achilles’ calibre, and the Arabic “hanged poems” (al-Mu`allaqât) to the Greek great tradition of epic poetry (1: 173). Finally, it compares the rather “primitive” war, Harb al-Basus, to the more spectacular Trojan War (1: 168) and compares the Arabian traditions of competition — athletic, as was illustrated by the forty years’ war that followed a disputed racing between Dâhis and al-Ghabrâ, and intellectual, as in the ta`âkuzia debates (1: 191) — to the great Greek tradition of agonism.

Mohammed Ben Jelloun
Agonistic Islam (nota 6)

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Iliada Al-Boustani

Inici del Cant I de la Ilíada, en la traducció d’Al-Boustani (1904)

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The importance of El Bostany’s poetic translation is due to the three following factors:
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1.- It represents a turning point in the cultural and academic life in Egypt and the Arab world. It was published 21 years before the foundation of the Department of Ancient European Culture (= Classics) in Cairo University (1925) by Taha Hussein […]. Therefore, it can be reasonably said that this translation partially contributed to the establishment of Greek and Latin Studies in Egypt. Soliman El Bostany had tried to teach himself Greek. However his translation of the Iliad depends on French, Italian and English translation rather than on the Greek original.
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2.- The introduction to El Bostany’s translation is extremely interesting. It is a serious comparative study of Greek and Arabic poetry. It also deals with the problems of translating poems into poetic translations. This introduction, appearing so early, can be considered as a leading study in classics and comparative criticism.
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3.- It is the first complete translation of the Iliad into Arabic.

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[…]
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The translation of the Iliad intto Arabic took Soliman El Bostany almost twenty years of hard work. It has about eleven thousand Arabic verses, parallel to about sixteen thousand Greek original verses. The problems which El Bostany faced are numerous. Such translation requires wide reading in the mythology, history, archeology, geography, economy and politics of Ancient Greece. How did he solve the problems? […]
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In the 1960s Dreeny Khashabah published an Iliad and an Odyssey. A Lebanese, Anber Salam by name, published simplified texts of the two epics. Amin Salama also published the two epics in Arabic. The last serious effort was that of the great Syrian poet Mamdouh Udwan who published in Abu Dhabie (2002) a complete prose translation of the Iliad, made from an English translation.
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Ahmed Etman
The Arab Reception of the Classics, dins de:
A Companion to Classical Receptions
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Suleiman al-Bustani

Suleiman al-Bustani

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AL.SHI’R AL-MURSAL (BLANK VERSE) IN MODERN ARABIC LITERATURE

The accepted definition of poetry among most of the classical Arab prosodists is al-kalãm al-mawzûn al-muqaffã ‘speech in metre and rhyme’. Unrhymed verse was thus excluded.

The simplest rhyme in Arabic verse is generally a consonant (rawiyy) between two vowels. The only exception to this rule is the rhyme of al-qasîda al-maqsûra, i.e. in a poem which rhymes with alif maqsûra, where the consonant is not important.

It is obvious from statements of critics and philosophers interested in the Greek sciences that the fact that the Greeks wrote blank verse was known to the Arabs. However, they were all firm in their conviction that rhyme in Arabic poetry was essential as metre. In his Kitãb al-shi’r, al Fãrãbi (873-950) observed that Homer used blank verse: ‘It is clear from the work (fi’l) of Homer (Awmirûsh) the poet of the Greeks, that he does not keep the equal endings (of the lines) while the Arabs pay more attention to rhyme than do other nations: ‘The Arabs pay more attention to the ending of verses in poetry than many nations with whose poetry we are acquainted’.

Even the great scholar of Greek philosophy and commentator on the Poetica of Aristotle, Ibn Sinã (980-1037), tended to deny Arabic unrhymed verse the title of poetry: ‘Poetry is imaginary speech (kalãm mukhayyal), equal rhythm; repeated according to its measure; similar in its final letters (mutashãbiha hurûf al-khawãtim)… our saying: “similar in its endings” is in order to distinguish between the rhymed and unrhymed. We almost do not call that which is unrhymed poetry’.

The Arab prosodists disapproved of slight discordances in the rhyme, its vowel, and the vowels preceding its consonant (rawiyy). In their developed ‘art of rhymes’ (‘ilm ak-qawãfi) each type of discordance was given a special term, such as iqwã’, ikfã, isrãf and sinãd. Of course, avoiding such ‘defects’ imposed greater restrictions on the poet’s freedom. Pure scientific, philological and lexicographic works which were written by Arabic scholars developed poetry towards purification in form, music, and visual perfection by introducing al-badi’ (the science of metaphor). These devices added further obstacles to the free expression of emotion and thought. During centuries the monotonous themes, poetical diction, and metaphor arrived at a point of stagnation, in spite of the fact that, through their extraordinary talents, great masters of Arabic poetry succeeded in adding a few interesting innovations to the Arabic poetic heritage.

Under the impact of the West, some Arab poets tried to introduce new poetic diction, metaphors, and themes, and to find new forms and music which suited them, in order to be able to avoid what they considered the enslaving style, and the sonorous and declamatory tone of classical Arab poetry. For this reason strophic forms of the muwash-shah and zajal were revived. The versification of the Iliad by Sulaymãn al-Bustãni (1856-1925) was one of the most serious attempts to get rid of the burden of the monorhyme in the monometric poem. Bustãni translated most of the Iliad into strophic verse following an established fashion among the Syrian and Lebanese poets. He did not want to use blank verse, the original form of the Iliad, in his versification, preferring strophic verse because, he stated, poetry in Arabic is defined by rhyme and metre (al-kalãm al-muqaffã ‘l-mawzûn). He therefore refrained from violating Arabic taste and the nature of the Arabic language which, in contrast with other languages, is rich in rhymes. However, although he was convinced that rhyme and its melody are an essential part of Arabic prosody, he did not use monorhyme extensively because he found it monotonous and an unnecessary restriction in epic and narrative poetry. Nevertheless, his admiration for rhyme led himself to avoid any defects in rhyme condemned by Arab prosodists.

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Smuel Moreh

Modern Arabic Poetry 1800-1970

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La reescriptura de la Ilíada per Christopher Logue

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Christopher Logue (23-11-1926 – 2-12-2011)

“See an East African lion


Nose tip to tail tuft ten, eleven feet


Slouching towards you


Swaying its head from side to side


Doubling its pace, its gold-black mane


That stretches down its belly to its groin


Catching the sunlight as it hits


Twice its own length a beat, then leaps


Great forepaws high great claws disclosed


The scarlet insides of its mouth


Parting a roar as loud as sail-sized flames


And lands, slam-scattering the herd.

 

This is how Hector came on us.”

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Christopher Logue

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El passat dia 2 de desembre de 2011 moria el poeta anglès Christopher Logue. Durant uns cinquanta anys, Logue va anar duent a terme una reescriptura de diversos cants de la Ilíada. Va anar composant el seu propi poema, peça a peça, amb successius esborranys o versions primer publicats en revistes com “Arion”, posteriorment aplegats en llibres com la seva famosa “Patrocleia”, o “Kings”, o “The Husbands”, finalment aplegats en el seu “War Music” i la seva continuació “Cold Calls” i “All Day Permanent Red” (aquest darrer títol inspirat en un anunci de pintallavis de Revlon).

Podria semblar que l’obra de Logue és una més de certes excentiricitats i adaptacions més o menys barroeres, en el seu intent d’adaptar l’obra homèrica a llenguatges actuals. El cert és que, amb els seus clarobscurs, l’obra de Logue, és a dir el seu poema anglès creat a partir d’un exercici de “reescriptura” de la Ilíada, conté alguns dels assajos més reeixits d’apropar-nos al sentiment que resulta de l’èpica d’Homer, al seu esperit, per més que, òbviament, no a la seva lletra.

Entrant en l’anècdota particular, dir que per més que l’obra de Logue estigui, en bona part, en l’orígen d’aquest blog, curiosament encara no hi havia tingut entrada. Ens hi referirem, no obstant, en diverses ocasions.

Amb la notícia del recent traspàs de Logue com a catalitzador, fem una primera incursió en la seva obra, portant aquí algunes de les reflexions que George Steiner, d’una banda, i Jaume Pòrtulas, de l’altra, hi han fet.

Tot i que en algun altre moment ja ens referirem més directament a la personalitat d’aquest autor heterodox, dir que ha estat sovint citada la seva activitat com a guionista (és l’autor, per exemple, del guió de la película de Ken Russell “Savage Messiah“), com a actor (va encarnar el personatge de l’ “espaghetti-eating fanatic” al film Jabberwocky, de Terry Guilliam), i va escriure fins i tot, segurament per a “guanyar-se les garrofes”,  una novel.la pornogràfica titulada  “Lust” (1954), amb el pseudònim de Count Palmiro Vicarion. En l’àmbit social i polític va militar en els moviments pacifistes de finals dels anys 50, formant part del Comite dels 100, de Bertrand Russell. En el seu poema I Shall Vote Labour hi va incloure línies com aquestes:

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I shall vote Labour because if I don’t somebody else will …
I shall vote Labour because if I do not vote Labour my balls will drop off …
I shall vote Labour because I am a hopeless drug addict …
I shall vote Labour because Labour will build more maximum security prisons …
I shall vote Labour because deep in my heart I am a Conservative

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Però, tornant al que aquí més ens ocupa, veiem què deia George Steiner, el 15 de febrer de 2002, al The Times Literary Supplement:

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[…]

No tradition of translation, adaptation, variora both solemn and parodic, rivals that in the English language. Homer and the evolution of English have been organically interrelated from Caxton’s Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye onwards, this being one of the very first books to be printed in the vernacular. If we were to include versions of single books or salient episodes out of Homer, together with translations of the Homeric Hymns, no catalogue, no library holdings would be complete. There have been almost a dozen Iliads and Odysseys in various forms of Anglo-American since E. V. Rieu’s hugely popular “prose-fiction” retelling of the Odyssey in 1946.

But the important fact is not only that of abundance. It is the quality of Homeric translations or imitations in English and the stature of those engaged in the enterprise: Chapman, Shelley, Tennyson, Browning, Pound, Graves, Lowell and Auden. After Milton, Pope’s Iliad remains unquestionably the most impressive epic in the language. Nor is the translation of Homer, in the widest sense, limited to poets and scholars. It comprises philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes, statesmen and soldiers such as Gladstone and T. E. Lawrence, novelists of the order of Joyce and D. H. Lawrence, theoreticians of meaning such as I. A. Richards. And, at last, women are beginning to join the roll-call; for example, Jorie Graham and Louise Gluck. Samuel Butler’s intuition -he was himself a translator of Homer -that the Odyssey is woman’s work, is eliciting modern echoes. There is no obvious explanation of this uninterrupted elective affinity. The calms and thunder of the sea have inhabited English and American English from Anglo Saxon to the present, as they inhabit the Odyssey and its renditions from Chapman to Derek Walcott. The homoerotic athleticism, the cult of warrior friendship so vivid in the Iliad, may touch some deep-lying nerve in English sensibility. There is, perhaps, something profoundly British in the pathos of defeat which gives to Hector, to Priam, even to Achilles their sunset glory; witness Shakespeare’s enactment of Hector’s death when “ugly night comes breathing at his heels”.

 Christopher Logue’s involvement dates back to 1959 and the commissioning of a new Iliad for the BBC. Logue admits to knowing no Greek, to translating with the aid of scholarly friends and preceding translations. Such “translation of translations” poses fascinating semantic issues. It can, as in Ezra Pound’s Cathay, produce texts of uncanny insight. How much Greek did Chapman have? Logue’s selections from Homer have been issued in three separate publications: War Music (1981), Kings (1991) and The Husbands (1994), now gathered in one volume, with the overall title War Music. Very roughly, and not in the order of their composition, Logue’s readings cover the savage quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles which launches the epic, part of the council in Olympus, the war council in Troy and that around Agamemnon, together with the very beginnings of the Trojan onrush. It goes on to episodes of battle and reciprocal defiance centred on Menelaus, Paris and Hector. The final part of the triptych conveys the deaths of Patroclus and of Hector together with the intimations of Achilles’ nearing doom. Logue does not appear to have acquired Greek during the lengthy gestation which has led to the present collected format. But there have been amendments and revisions all along, in the American as compared with the British editions and in this new text. Hints, moreover, persist that the project may extend beyond the “accounts” of Homer’s Books 1-4 and 16-19 now available. The cursory notes “must do for the moment”.

Two genres fuel Logue’s kaleidoscope. As befits its origins as a radio script, War Music is conceived for the ear, and many of its splendours only unfold when read aloud. Logue has experimented with poetry and jazz. One can easily imagine parts of his “Homer” being declaimed to an intensely syncopated, percussive accompaniment. The play with typography, the fortissimos marked by very large letters as in the “Patrocleia”, are not always convincing. The sound effects in the language are. This is eerily so when Logue generates spots of silence, of breathless compaction:


“The ring is shut. Enormous calm.


King Agamemnon and Achilles face to face, 

Distinct as polygon and square.”
 

Or:

“Haze covers Ida.


Sand falls down sand.


Even the gods are listless -”
 

where the soft sibilants and the image point to the mute fatality of an hour-glass. Throughout, we experience a return, sensible also in Walcott’s Omeros, to the initial guise of the Iliad, to a poetry spoken and sung by the rhapsode, for a live audience. Time and again, Logue bids us:

“Think of the noise that fills the air 

When autumn takes the Dnieper by the arm 

And skein on skein of honking geese fly south 

To give the stateless rains a miss.”
Which advice leads immediately to the brute cacophony of
“So Hector’s moon-horned, shouting dukes 

Burst from the tunnels, down the counterslope, 

And shout, shout, shout, smashed shouted shout 

Backward and forth across the sky . . .”

-just like those geese, whose role in ancient soothsaying Logue hints at.

The second tutelary genre is that of the cinema. Logue’s treatment points to the devices of collage and montage, of the zoom and the close-up, of slow motion and accelerando, familiar to the moviegoer and television watcher. In its dynamic and “cutting”, in its shifting focus, this fierce panorama of the Trojan War is radically of our age, with its graphic media, its aspiration to “virtual reality”. Persistently, visual cuts, script notations form the action:

“Pulling the Trojans back a yard or two

He baited Ajax with his throat, and Ajax took.

As the spear lifted, Hector skipped in range; 

As Ajax readied, Hector bared his throat again; 

And, as Ajax lunged, Prince Hector jived on his heel 

And snicked the haft clean through its neck 

Pruning the eighteen incher – Aie! – it was good to watch 

Big Ajax and his spear blundering about for, O, 

Two seconds went before he noticed it had gone . . . .


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The ship was burned.”
 

The instructions to camera are beautifully precise. The uses of lighting are vital: “the daylight sharpens where he stands”; “the sunburnt air”; “Often at daybreak a salty moon”.

At their finest, the criteria of orality and the cinematographic fuse perfectly. Pope’s rendering of the campfires in Iliad VIII, 553-65, is justly famous:

“The Troops exulting sate in order round,

and beaming Fires illumin’d all the Ground.

As when the Moon, refulgent Lamp of Night!

O’er Heav’ns clear Azure spreads her sacred Light, 

When not a Breath disturbs the deep Serene; 

And not a Cloud o’ercasts the solemn Scene; 

Around her Throne the vivid Planets roll, 

And Stars unnumber’d gild the glowing Pole . . . “.
 

Logue’s zoom-shot is more economical, but no less poignant:

“Picture the east Aegean sea by night, 

And on a beach aslant its shimmering 

Upwards of 50,000 men 

Asleep like spoons beside their lethal Fleet.”
 

Homer, one ventures, would have delighted in those “spoons”.


Issued in tandem with a seven-CD set of Logue’s dramatic readings (Audio Logue, UPL 701), this “account” of Homer does have its ups and downs. The ferocities of encounter can prove repetitive, as they do in the original. The battle-screams throng the air, and the similes, with their invocation of gangster-land, are sometimes forced: Paris knocked back “like a gangster in his barber’s chair”. There are a good many distinctly un-Homeric hyperboles: Ajax’s helmet vibrating “Like a clapper inside a bell made out of sword blades”. More disturbing is the frequent undercurrent of jocose sarcasm, of black jokes. “Our cooling onions” signifying cloud-drifts; “zanies stripped his tin” when Pyrop’s armour is taken; Agamemnon comes to choose among the captive women: “he came lick-lick when the best / Met to view the shes . . . . Here sniffing, pinching here.” There are growls of grim humour in the Iliad, but its protagonist is not Thersites. A rendition loyal to the Trojan epic will seek to recapture that symbiosis between archaic savagery and an immensely delicate, poised sadness. It may be symptomatic that Christopher Logue has, so far, avoided Book XXIV, that night-rendezvous of Priam and Achilles which is a translator’s supreme test. Chapman comes near to Achilles’ brusque note of consolation in which Homer adumbrates the hero’s own fatal foresight:

“Affect not then too farre 

With grief, like a god, being a man; but for a man’s life care, 

And take fit foode. Thou shalt have time, 

beside, to mourne thy sonne; 

He shall be tearfull, thou being full; not here but Ilion 

Shall find thee weeping roomes enow”.

But strikingly, these weaknesses are all but absent from the final section, the “Patrocleia” and “Pax” with which Logue in fact set out. It is the more recent fragments which at moments flag.



At issue is Logue’s intent. “To retain Homer’s story line, to cut or amplify or add to its incidents, vary its similes, and (mostly) to omit Homer’s descriptive epithets.” As the task evolved, Logue became ever freer, seeking to produce an English poem evocative of an assemblage “reckoned to have preceded the beginnings of our own written language by fifteen centuries”. It is absurd to debate whether such a project is legitimate or not. Echoes to Homer cover the total gamut of formal, tonal, interpretative possibilities from strict inter- linears and attempts at formulaic equivalence to the acts of personal response, of metamorphic transmutation (Roman Jakobson’s rubric) as we find them in Lawrence Durrell’s jazz-musical Ulysses Comes Back, in Omeros or in Joyce’s Ulysses. Homer’s spirit can be conjured up in a prodigality of spells: “Oh I’ve got those deep green sea blues.”

In Logue’s work, the translator surpasses the poet -witness his Neruda. This is a paradoxical but not altogether rare case. Picturing the “welded cortex” of Achilles’ helmet, Logue writes:

“Though it is noon, the helmet screams against the light; 

Scratches the eye; so violent it can be seen 

Across three thousand years.”

No classical scholar, no critic, has voiced more concisely the lasting impact of Homer. In that presence “across three thousand years”, Logue’s imitatio will have its proud place. One must hope that War Music is indeed work in progress. When it is at full strength, it may prove incomparable.

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George Steiner

The Times Literary Supplement

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Finalment, reproduïm un fragment de l’article “Miralls tèrbols”, publicat per Jaume Pòrtulas al nº 2 dels Quaderns Catalans de Cultura Clàssica, dins l’apartat d’aquest exemplar dedicat a “Aspectes de la traducció: la Ilíada en català”.  En aquest interesantíssim estudi Pòrtulas analitza les traduccions al català de la Ilíada disponibles en aquella data (1986) i, en fer-ho, quan ha de plantejar-se la qüestió dels límits de la fidelitat al text, procedeix a acarar determinats passatges de les traduccions catalanes amb la versió de Logue (amb “la superba paràfrasi de la Patroclia que publicà el 1963 Christopher Logue”, diu), amb resultats francament interessants.

Diu Pòrtulas:

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[…] Quan deixa una traducció de poder ésser considerada com a tal i esdevé paràfrasi, variació, adaptació? Voldria apel·lar a un exemple gairebé banal de la Ilíada. En dos passatges (Il. XIII 398 ss. = XVI 482-4: aquest segon es la mort de Sarpedó) la caiguda d’un guerrer colpit per la llança és comparada a la d’un arbre abatut pels llenyataires. Heus aquí les versions dels nostres torsirnanys. Llovera, amb terminologia lleument arcaitzant:

«I ell caigué; com quan cau una alzina, o una alba ufanosa,
o bé un pi gegantesc, que en les serres uns homes llenyaires
tallen amb ben esmolades destrals per fustam de navilis;»

Balasch, per la seva banda:

«I s’esfondrà com un roure s’esfondra o bé un àlber
o com un poll, un arbràs tallat en un munt per artifexs
amb tot just esmolades destrals, per a fer-ne un navili;»

Peix, sens dubte el mes afortunat:

«L’home va caure com cauen el roure, l’alber i l’alt pi,
que tallen fusters a muntanya per fer-ne
fusta de nau amb llurs picasses de fresc esmolades…»

Tanmateix, la superba paràfrasi de la Patroclia que publicà el 1963 Christopher Logue amplifica agosaradament, descaradament, el passatge:

«He fell as atree falls -oak, say, or pine-
Slowly at first and then with the bright
Commercial axes thocking at his heart,
The tall hurt trunk lies down and settles,
Resentfully among its leaves…»

Fins a quin punt el procediment es lícit?  D’on venen aquestes bright commercial axes? I la imatge del tronc alterós aclofat resentfully enmig del brancatge no s’ha de reconèixer que fa violència al text?  O més aviat, al contrari: no hauríem de dir que el pitjor ultratge el cometen les traduccions nostrades, pretesament fidels? L’original acomparava la caiguda d’un guerrer al fet d’abatre un ésser vivent, ple d’ufana, per fer-ne quelcom inanimat; el lector banal que fulleja segons quina traducció nomes pot captar el truisme vulgar que els vaixells es fan de fusta. Quina és la violencia pitjor, a l’esperit o a la lletra?

La resposta és evidentment complicada i aquí nomes podem esbossar-la. Per una banda, resulta indubtable que el joc de la versió lliure no es pot jugar sense regles. A més, hi ha molt a dir en defensa d’una traducció ajustada i fidel, sempre que compleixi una condicio única, pero tanmateix bàsica: que tingui rera seu, recolzant-la, una proposta de lectura orgànica i coherent del text implicat.  Riba complia aquesta condició: a despit de l’austeritat, de la parsimònia de les seves manifestacions teòriques, sabem com llegia Homer, què hi cercava, què hi trobava. El fet que alguns, bastants, dels seus punts de vista hagin estat abandonats, depassats, no té cap importancia. En tot cas, no resulta foraviat afirmar que, en l’àmbit de la nostra cultura, la interpretació basica d’Homer, l’única fonamentada, continua essent la ribiana; i això no només pel fet que tant sols ell ens ha deixat un cos (tanmateix breu i succint) de valoracions teòriques, com per la influència que ha tingut en aquells que s’han dedicat, paral·lelament i subsidiària, a la mateixa tasca de traduir Homer.  Homer, Riba el va llegir; els altres són els seus deutors i s’han dedicat a aplicar a la Ilíada, amb més o menys fortuna, amb més o menys talent estilístic, els guanys de les dues versions odisseiques.

[…]

Els Romàntics, […], s’abellien de considerar el món antic, i el geni hel·lènic en particular, afortunats en una mesura molt especial. Els aedes homèrics haurien estat, literalment, els primers de donar forma i veu als impulsos fonamentals de l’home, com l’amor, l’odi, els sentiments civils i religiosos. Comparació i metàfora haurien estat, per a ells, innovació pura i pregonament pertorbadora: no pàl·lid ornament de la llengua, sinó una manera nova d’organitzar la realitat, de dreçar-ne un mapa, alhora producte del tempteig i intensament personal. Despres d’Homer, cap llengua no hauria estat en disposició de veure la realitat amb uns ulls nous de trinca.

Actualment, però, podem capir fins a quin punt aquesta visió de les coses és errònia. Fins i tot els textos més remots dels quals poguem tenir noticia (que no són ja els poemes homèrics) arrosseguen el rerafons d’una immensa prehistòria lingüística. La composició formular d’Homer delata la constitució lentíssima d’una tria paulatina i d’unes conventions. Com remarca Steiner, no hi ha reconstrucció antropològica o històrica capaç de fer-nos entrellucar un llenguatge de l’alba; els models d’una poiesis perduda en la nit dels temps seran sempre ficticis.

Podria semblar que aquestes divagations, interessants o no que puguin ésser, no tenen gaire rellevància en el context d’una reflexió sobre les possibilitats, recursos i condicionaments de l’ofici de traduir; però seria un punt de vista erroni. Per recórrer a l’exemple més intens, més exasperat que tinc a l’abast, voldria acarar l’honesta traducció d’un símil famosíssim de la Patroclia (Il. XVI 384-392: els corsers i els guerrers troians en fuita són comparats a una violenta torrentada, a una inundació provocada per l’ira de Zeus contra els homes injustos i brutals) amb l’enèrgica dinamització a la qual Logue sotmet el mateix passatge. Peix tradueix:

«Com un jorn de tardor sota el trampol la terra s’aixafa,
tota enfosquida, quan Zeus aboca una pluja enfurida,
ple de rancor i d’enuig contra els homes que a l’àgora donen
tortes sentències, tot bandejant el dret, per la força,
sense que es curin del càstig dels déus; llurs rius se’ls emplenen,
tots van plens d’un alt corrent; llavors els xorrenquen
moltes vessants els torrents, que amb gran gemegor es precipiten,
tot corrent muntanyes avall, vers la mar vermellenca,
mentre els treballs dels humans es malmeten…»

I Logue, per la seva part, amplificant agosaradament:

«On certain Autumn days the land is grey,
And the little sky between it and the grey
Masses of streaming cloud, fills with wet haze.
Cold lines of rain join mile after mile
Of heaven to earth; floods cover everything;
And few land animals, save man, survive.
But the rain continue like God’s punishment
On these who bear false witness, and on those
Judges divorced from justice by contempt
For those they judge, and the accomplices
Of both these sorts of men, who sit
Quietly on a fence in the storm’s eye.
The flood covers them equally. And then,
When the rain is over, the water drains
Everything civil off the land in one
Enormous wave that roars into the sea.»

Aquestes variacions constitueixen, evidentment, acceptable poesia moderna; però perquè siguin possibles haurà calgut superar del tot les concepcions sobre un Homer proper a les deus, a les arrels profundes del llenguatge, testimoni directe del naixement de la referència simbòlica; i, en canvi, veure l’antic poeta com el representant d’una civilitzacio arcaica, certament, però ben desenvolupada i amb una llarga tradició a l’esquena -una tradició que no es vincula només a concepcions teològiques ancestrals, sinó també a la urgència del clam ètic sobre la consciència dels individus.

[…]

.Jaume Pòrtulas

Miralls Tèrbols

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Finalment, a tall d’homenatge, portem aquí un poema de Logue:

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Be not too hard for life is short
And nothing is given to man.
Be not too hard when he is sold or bought,
For he must manage as best he can.

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Be not too hard when he blindly dies
Fighting for things he does not own.
Be not too hard when he tells lies
Or if his heart is sometimes like a stone.

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Be not too hard for soon he’ll die,
Often no wiser than he began.
Be not too hard for life is short
And nothing is given to man.
And nothing is given to man

Christopher Logue.

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Patrocleia

Book XVI of Homer’s Iliad

adapted by Christopher Logue

Scorpion Press.

London, 1962

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“Pax”: Episodes from the Iliad

Book XIX

Translated by Christopher Logue

[Reprint from Winter, 1963, issue of Arion]

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Pax

Book XIX of The Iliad

translated by Christopher Logue

Rap & Carroll London

London, 1967.

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The fight for Patroclus

Part 2 (First Draft)

From Iliad 18

Christopher Logue

[Reprint from Winter, 1969, issue of Arion]

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Christopher Logue

Kings

Farrar Straus & Giroux.

New York, 1991

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Logue’s Homer

War Music

faber and faber. London, 2001

ISBN: 9780571209071

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Logue’s Homer

Cold Calls Vol. 1 (War Music continued)

faber and faber. London, 2005

ISBN: 9780571202775

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Logue’s Homer

All Day Permanent Red

faber and faber. London, 2003

ISBN: 9780571216864

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Ítaca

Quaderns Catalans de Cultura Clàssica, nº 2

Institut d’Estudis Catalans

Barcelona, 1986

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On not knowing greek, de Virginia Woolf

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On Not Knowing Greek (excerpts)

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Virginia Woolf (Londres 1882 - Lewes, Sussex, 1941)

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For it is vain and foolish to talk of knowing Greek, since in our ignorance we should be at the bottom of any class of schoolboys, since we do not know how the words sounded, or where precisely we ought to laugh, or how the actors acted, and between this foreign people and ourselves there is not only difference of race and tongue but a tremendous breach of tradition. All the more strange, then, is it that we should wish to know Greek, try to know Greek, feel for ever drawn back to Greek, and be for ever making up some notion of the meaning of Greek, though from what incongruous odds and ends, with what slight resemblance to the real meaning of Greek, who shall say?

[…]

Yet it is not because we can analyse them into feelings that they impress us. In six pages of Proust we can find more complicated and varied emotions than in the whole of the Electra. But in the Electra or in the Antigone we are impressed by something different, by something perhaps more impressive — by heroism itself, by fidelity itself. In spite of the labour and the difficulty it is this that draws us back and back to the Greeks; the stable, the permanent, the original human being is to be found there. Violent emotions are needed to rouse him into action, but when thus stirred by death, by betrayal, by some other primitive calamity, Antigone and Ajax and Electra behave in the way in which we should behave thus struck down; the way in which everybody has always behaved; and thus we understand them more easily and more directly than we understand the characters in the Canterbury Tales. These are the originals, Chaucer’s the varieties of the human species.

It is true, of course, that these types of the original man or woman, these heroic Kings, these faithful daughters, these tragic Queens who stalk through the ages always planting their feet in the same places, twitching their robes with the same gestures, from habit not from impulse, are among the greatest bores and the most demoralising companions in the world. The plays of Addison, Voltaire, and a host of others are there to prove it. But encounter them in Greek. Even in Sophocles, whose reputation for restraint and mastery has filtered down to us from the scholars, they are decided, ruthless, direct. A fragment of their speech broken off would, we feel, colour oceans and oceans of the respectable drama. Here we meet them before their emotions have been worn into uniformity. Here we listen to the nightingale whose song echoes through English literature singing in her own Greek tongue. For the first time Orpheus with his lute makes men and beasts follow him. Their voices ring out clear and sharp; we see the hairy, tawny bodies at play in the sunlight among the olive trees, not posed gracefully on granite plinths in the pale corridors of the British Museum. And then suddenly, in the midst of all this sharpness and compression, Electra, as if she swept her veil over her face and forbade us to think of her any more, speaks of that very nightingale: “that bird distraught with grief, the messenger of Zeus. Ah, queen of sorrow, Niobe, thee I deem divine — thee; who evermore weepest in thy rocky tomb.”

And as she silences her own complaint, she perplexes us again with the insoluble question of poetry and its nature, and why, as she speaks thus, her words put on the assurance of immortality. For they are Greek; we cannot tell how they sounded; they ignore the obvious sources of excitement; they owe nothing of their effect to any extravagance of expression, and certainly they throw no light upon the speaker’s character or the writer’s. But they remain, something that has been stated and must eternally endure.

[…]

Further, in reckoning the doubts and difficulties there is this important problem — Where are we to laugh in reading Greek? There is a passage in the Odyssey where laughter begins to steal upon us, but if Homer were looking we should probably think it better to control our merriment. To laugh instantly it is almost necessary (though Aristophanes may supply us with an exception) to laugh in English. Humour, after all, is closely bound up with a sense of the body. When we laugh at the humour of Wycherley, we are laughing with the body of that burly rustic who was our common ancestor on the village green. The French, the Italians, the Americans, who derive physically from so different a stock, pause, as we pause in reading Homer, to make sure that they are laughing in the right place, and the pause is fatal. Thus humour is the first of the gifts to perish in a foreign tongue, and when we turn from Greek to English literature it seems, after a long silence, as if our great age were ushered in by a burst of laughter.

These are all difficulties, sources of misunderstanding, of distorted and romantic, of servile and snobbish passion. Yet even for the unlearned some certainties remain. Greek is the impersonal literature; it is also the literature of masterpieces. There are no schools; no forerunners; no heirs. We cannot trace a gradual process working in many men imperfectly until it expresses itself adequately at last in one. Again, there is always about Greek literature that air of vigour which permeates an “age”, whether it is the age of Aeschylus, or Racine, or Shakespeare. One generation at least in that fortunate time is blown on to be writers to the extreme; to attain that unconsciousness which means that the consciousness is stimulated to the highest extent; to surpass the limits of small triumphs and tentative experiments. Thus we have Sappho with her constellations of adjectives; Plato daring extravagant flights of poetry in the midst of prose; Thucydides, constricted and contracted; Sophocles gliding like a shoal of trout smoothly and quietly, apparently motionless, and then, with a flicker of fins, off and away; while in the Odyssey we have what remains the triumph of narrative, the clearest and at the same time the most romantic story of the fortunes of men and women.

The Odyssey is merely a story of adventure, the instinctive story-telling of a sea-faring race. So we may begin it, reading quickly in the spirit of children wanting amusement to find out what happens next. But here is nothing immature; here are full-grown people, crafty, subtle, and passionate. Nor is the world itself a small one, since the sea which separates island from island has to be crossed by little hand-made boats and is measured by the flight of the sea-gulls. It is true that the islands are not thickly populated, and the people, though everything is made by hands, are not closely kept at work. They have had time to develop a very dignified, a very stately society, with an ancient tradition of manners behind it, which makes every relation at once orderly, natural, and full of reserve. Penelope crosses the room; Telemachus goes to bed; Nausicaa washes her linen; and their actions seem laden with beauty because they do not know that they are beautiful, have been born to their possessions, are no more self-conscious than children, and yet, all those thousands of years ago, in their little islands, know all that is to be known. With the sound of the sea in their ears, vines, meadows, rivulets about them, they are even more aware than we are of a ruthless fate. There is a sadness at the back of life which they do not attempt to mitigate. Entirely aware of their own standing in the shadow, and yet alive to every tremor and gleam of existence, there they endure, and it is to the Greeks that we turn when we are sick of the vagueness, of the confusion, of the Christianity and its consolations, of our own age.

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Virgina Woolf

On not knowing Greek

The common reader

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Virginia Woolf

on not knowing greek

Introduced by Elena Gualtery

et remotissima prope

Hesperus Press Limited. London, 2008

ISBN: 9781843916055

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Homer al «Diccionari de la traducció catalana»

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 Volem deixar constància de la bona notícia consistent en l’aparició  del Diccionari de la traducció catalana que, sota la batuta de Montserrat Bacardí i Pilar Godayol, és obra d’un bon pleret de col·laboradors, amb el suport de diverses universitats de les terres de parla catalana.

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Es tracta d’una eina potent i acurada. Com diu Joaquim Mallafré en el seu pròleg, “Degusteu aquest Diccionari de la traducció catalana, llegiu-lo. La història de la literatura catalana l’haurà de tenir en compte.”

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El Diccionari que comentem es complementa, al final, amb un índex de traductors, un índex d’autor traduïts i un índex d’obres traduïdes.

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Si fem la recerca, quant a autors traduïts, per Homer, l’índex ens remet als següents traductors:

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Joan Alberich i Mariné, per les seves traduccions de l’Odissea i de La Ilíada.

Miquel Victorià Amer i Omar, per la seva traducció del fragment del diàleg entre Hèctor i Andròmaca, de cant sisè de la Ilíada.

Manuel Balasch i Recort, per la seva primera i segona traduccions de la Ilíada i dels Himnes homèrics.

Albert Jané i Riera, per la seva adaptació de l’Odissea per a un públic juvenil. 

Miquel Peix i Crespí, per la seva traducció de la Ilíada.

Carles Riba i Bracons, per la seva primera i segona traducció de l’Odissea

Montserrat Ros i Ribas, per la seva traducció, en curs, de la Ilíada.

Conrad Roure, per la seva traducció indirecta de la Ilíada.

Lluís Segalà i Estalella, per la seva traducció del Cant I de la Ilíada.

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A més dels citats, i tot i que no apareixen en l’índex final si cerquem per “Homer”, trobem referències a traduccions de la Ilíada en les respectives entrades del Diccionari corresponents a:

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Antoni Bulbena i Tusell, per la seva traduccio íntegra de la Ilíada, inèdita, de la que se’n conserva el manuscrit a la Biblioteca de Catalunya.

Josep Maria Llovera i Tomàs, per la seva traducció de les quinze primeres rapsòdies de la Ilíada.

Artur Masriera i Torrents, per la seva traducció (perduda), de la Ilíada, de la que se’n va publicar algun fragment.

Joan Montserrat i Archs, per la seva traducció (perduda) de la Ilíada d’Homer, de la que se’n publicà algun fragment.

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L’abast del Diccionari, quant als traductors inclosos, queda limitat a aquells nascuts fins el 1950.

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Les directores de l’obra, citant Riba, afirmen que no tenen pas la pretensió d’haver reeixit en l’impossible. En qualsevol cas, elles i tots els nombrosos col·laboradors, ens ofereixen una gran obra, d’aquelles que deixen pòsit. Moltes gràcies.

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