Comparison

"Homer’s the Iliad is one of the defining masterpieces of our culture. The story is thrilling, and the language is perhaps the most beautiful poetry ever sung or written. Translators have handicapped themselves by their adherence to convention and by the meters they have chosen, which can’t recreate the energy, simplicity, and speed of the original. Without a strong narrative flow, many readers soon bog down and quit. In translating Homer, clarity and rhythm are everything."
—STEPHEN MITCHELL

RICHMOND LATTIMORE
THE ILIAD OF HOMER
(University of Chicago Press, 1951)

So he spoke in prayer, and Phoibos Apollo heard him,
and strode down along the pinnacles of Olympos, angered
in his heart, carrying across his shoulders the bow and the hooded
quiver’ and the shafts clashed on the shoulders of the god walking
angrily. He came as night comes down and knelt then
apart and opposite the ships and let go an arrow.
Terrible was the clash that rose from the bow of silver.
First he went after the mules and the circling hounds, then let go
a tearing arrow against the men themselves and struck them.
The corpse fires burned everywhere and did not stop burning.

 

ROBERT FITZGERALD
THE ILIAD
(Anchor, 1974)

Now when he heard this prayer, Phoibos Apollo
walked with storm in his heart from Olympos' crest,
quiver and bow at his back, and the bundled arrows
clanged on the sky behind as he rocked in his anger,
descending like night itself.  Apart from the ships
he halted and let fly, and the bowstrings slammed
as the silver bow sprang, rolling in thunder away.
Pack animals were his target first, and dogs,
but soldiers, too, soon felt transfixing pain
from his hard shots, and pyres burned night and day.

 

ROBERT FAGLES
THE ILIAD
(Viking, 1990)

His prayer went up and Phoebus Apollo heard him.
Down he strode from Olympus’ peaks, storming at heart
with his bow and hooded quiver slung across his shoulders.
The arrows clanged at his back as the god quaked with rage,
the god himself on the march and down he came like night.
Over against the ships he dropped to a knee, let fly a shaft
and a terrifying clash rang out from the great silver bow.
First he went for the mules and circling dogs but then,
launching a piercing shaft at the men themselves,
he cut them down in droves—
and the corpse-fires burned on, night and day, no end in si
ght.

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STEPHEN MITCHELL,
THE ILIAD (Free Press, 2011)

He ended his prayer, and Apollo was swift to answer,
striding to earth from the pinnacles of Olympus,
filled with fury. His bow and his quiver were slung
on his shoulder. The arrows rattled with every step.
Down he strode, and his coming was like the night.
He dropped to one knee and drew back a deadly arrow,
and a dreadful twang rang out from the silver bow.
First he attacked the mules and the dogs, but soon
he shifted his aim and struck down the men themselves.
And the close-packed pyres of the dead kept burning, burning,
beside the Achaean ships, all day and all night.

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