Classical Translations of the Classics: The Dynamics of Literary Tradition in Retranslating Epic Poetry
This chapter discusses the retranslation of Greek epic poetry and argues for its importance in understanding how literary traditions shape the translation scenario. First, it treats the epic adaptations and translational practices of Roman authors, with particular focus on Ennius and Virgil. It also treats lesser-known translations of Greek epic from Roman times, and outlines the continuing history of Latin translation during the Renaissance, which was very influential for the burgeoning literatures of Western Europe. Then it details how this Latin tradition still informs the ‘classic’ English translations of George Chapman, John Dryden, Alexander Pope, and William Cowper, who still read their Greek under the strong influence not only of Latin literary values, but also of Latin translational practices. While the Latin tradition was highly influential in shaping European retranslation of Greek epic, that tradition itself effectively produced no translation on a par with Chapman's Homer or Dryden's Virgil.
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