ENG I Honors Mr. Davis Name:______________________________________________ Date:_______________________________________________ The Odyssey Translations As discussed briefly in class, The Odyssey has many different translations. Although it is impossible to say which one is the best, people prefer different translations based on their personal opinion. Today, you will compare three different translations of The Odyssey and judge which translation you prefer. Circle the one you like the best in each category and underline words or phrases that make you like it better. 1. Context: Odysseus stabs the Cyclops: Translation 1 He gave a horrible bellow till the rocks rang again, and we shrank away in fear. Then he dragged out the post from his eye dabble and dripping with blood, and threw it from him, wringing his hands in wild agony, and roared aloud to the Cyclopians who lived in the caves round about among the windy hills. Translation 2 The Cyclops bellowed and the rock roared round him, and we fell back in fear. Clawing his face he tugged the bloody spike out of his eye, threw it away, and his wild hands went groping; then he set up a howl for Cyclopes who lived in caves on the windy peaks nearby. Translation 3 He gave a giant horrible cry and the rocks rattled to the sound, and we scuttle away in fear. He pulled the timber out of his eye, and it blubbered with plenty of blood, then when he had frantically take it in his hands and thrown it away, he cried aloud to the other Cyclops, who live around him in their own caves along the windy pinnacles. 2. Context: Agamemnon’s advice to Odysseus. Translation 1 Never be too kind even to your wife. Translation 2 The day of faithful wives is gone forever. Translation 3 There is no trusting in women. Translation 2 Among them all the youngest was Elpenor – no mainstay in a fight nor very clever – and this one, having climbed on Circe’s roof to taste the cool of night, fell asleep with wine. Waked by our mourning voices, and the tramp of men below, he started up, but missed his footing on the long steep backward ladder and fell that height headlong. The blow smashed the nape cord, and his ghost fled to the dark. Translation 3 There was one, Elpenor, the youngest man, not terribly powerful in fighting nor sound in his thoughts. This man, apart from the rest of his friends, in search of cool air, had lain down drunkenly to sleep on the roof of Circe’s palace, and when his companions stirred to go he, hearing the tumult and noise of talking, started suddenly up, and never thought, when he went down, to go by the way of the long ladder, but blundered straight off the edge of roof, so that his neck bone was broken out of its sockets, and his soul went down to Hades. 3. Context: Elpenor’s Death Translation 1 One of us, Elpenor, the youngest of all, one not so very valiant in war or steady in mind, had been sleeping by himself on the roof to get cool, being heavy with wine. He heard a noise and bustle of men moving about, and jumped in a hurry, but his poor wits forgot to come down again by the long ladder. He fell off the roof and broke his neck, and his soul went down to Hades. ENG I Honors Mr. Davis Name:______________________________________________ Date:_______________________________________________ 4. Context: Polphemous asks about Odysseus and his crew when they first meet. Translation 1 “Who are you?” he called out. “Where do you come from over the watery ways? Are you traders, or a lot of pirates ready to kill and be killed, brining trouble to foreigners?” Translation 2 “Strangers,” he said, “who are you? And where from? What brings you here by sea ways – a fair traffic? Or are you wandering rogues, who cast your lives like dice, and ravage other folk by sea?” Translation 3 “Strangers, who are you? From where do you come sailing over the watery ways? Is it on some business, or are you recklessly roving as pirates do, when they sail on the salt sea and venture their lives as they wander, bringing evil to alien people?” 5. Context: Odysseus replies to Eurymachos right after he accuses Odyssues of killing the best of Ithaca (i.e. Antinous) Translation 1 Dogs! You thought I would never come back from Troy, so you have been carving up my substance, forcing the women to lie with you, courting my wife before I was dead, not fearing the gods who rule the broad heavens, nor the execration of man which follows you for ever. And now the cords of death are made fast about you all! Translation 2 You yellow dogs, you thought I’d never make it home from the land of Troy. You took my house to plunder, twisted my maids to serve your beds. You dared bid for my wife while I was still alive. Contempt was all you had for the gods who rule wide heaven, contempt for what men say of you hereafter. Your last hour has come. You die in blood. Translation 3 You dogs, you never thought that I would any more come back from the land of Troy, and because of that you despoiled my household, and forcibly took my serving women to sleep beside you, and sought to win my wife while I was still alive, fearing neither the immortal gods who hold the wide heaven, nor any resent spring from men to be yours in the future. Now upon all of you the terms of destruction are fastened. 6. Context: Odysseus kills Antinous Translation 1 The arrow struck him in the throat, and the point ran through the soft neck. He sank on the other side, and the goblet dropt from his hands. In an instant a thick jet of blood spouted from his nostrils; he pushed the table away with a quick jerk of his feet, spilling all the vittles on the ground – meat and bread in a mess. Translation 2 Odysseus’ arrow hit him under the chin and punched up to the feathers through his throat. Backward and down he went, letting the winecup fall from his shocked hand. Like pipes his nostrils jetted crimson runnels, a river of mortal red, and one last kick upset his table knocking his bread and meat to soak in dusty blood. Translation 3 But Odysseus, aiming at this man, struck him in the throat with an arrow, and clean through the soft part of the neck the point was driven. He slumped to one side, and out of his stricken hand fell the goblet, and up and through his nostrils there burst a thick jet of mortal blood, and with a thrust of his foot he kicked back the table from him, so that all the good food was scattered on the ground, read and baked meats together. Totals: Count how many times you like each translation best and put your tally in the chart. Translation 1 Translation 2 Translation 3 ENG I Honors Mr. Davis Name:______________________________________________ Date:_______________________________________________ 4. Context: Odysseus’ response to the pleas of Eurymachos Translation 1 Eurymachos, not if you would give me your whole estates, all you now possess, and more if you could get it, not even so would I stay my hand from killing until every man of you shall have paid in full for his outrageous violence. Now the choice lies before you, fight or flight, if you wish to save your lives; but I do not think any one of you will escape sudden death. Translation 2 Not for the whole treasure of your fathers, all you enjoy, lands, flocks, or any gold put up by others, would I hold my hand. There will be killing till the score is paid. You forced yourselves upon this house. Fight your way out, or run for it, if you think you’ll escape death. I doubt one man of you skins by. Translation 3 Eurymachos, if you gave me all your father’s possessions, all that you have now, and what you could add from elsewhere, even so, I would not stay my hands from the slaughter until I had taken revenge for all the suitor’s transgressions. Now the choice has been set before you, either to fight me or run, if any of you can death and its spirits. But I think not one man will escape from sheer destruction.