/for-anyone-tempted-to-read-the-homeric-iliad-all-of-it-in-translation-some-words-about-a-book-that-can-help-with-getting-started/

For an example of at attempt at reading the whole Iliad in just three days (!), I cite a remark made by Georges Dumézil, an expert in linguistics, who is advising other experts, as well as himself, to re-read the Iliad every year or so. I talk about this piece of advice in §5 of https://classical-inquiries.chs.harvard.edu/comments-on-comparative-mythology-1-about-apollo/:

While giving his advice, at p. 73 of his book Apollon sonore, Dumézil shows time and again that he has read the Iliad most carefully, following the example of a great French poet to whom he alludes in this way…

Conseil: en trois jours ou en vingt-quatre, chaque année, relire l’Iliade pour le plaisir, sans lui poser de questions.

Here is my free translation:

A word of advice: whether it takes you three days or twenty-four, you should re-read, every year, the Iliad—just for the sheer pleasure of it all—and don’t go on asking it to give you answers.

The French poet whom Dumézil obviously has in mind here is Pierre de Ronsard (1524–1585):

Je veus lire en trois jours l’Iliade d’Homere,
Et pour-ce, Corydon, ferme bien l’huis sur moy.
Si rien me vient troubler, je t’asseure ma foy
Tu sentiras combien pesante est ma colere.

Je ne veus seulement que nostre chambriere
Vienne faire mon lit, ton compagnon, ny toy,
Je veus trois jours entiers demeurer à requoy,
Pour follastrer apres une sepmaine entiere.

Mais si quelqu’un venoit de la part de Cassandre,
Ouvre lui tost la porte, et ne le fais attendre,
Soudain entre en ma chambre, et me vien accoustrer.

Je veus tant seulement à luy seul me monstrer :
Au reste, si un Dieu vouloit pour moy descendre
Du ciel, ferme la porte, et ne le laisse entrer.

Here is my attempt at a translation:

I want to read in three days the Iliad of Homer
and so, Corydon, I want you to shut that door on me, shut it really tight.
There had better be nothing that comes and troubles me, or else, I swear,
You will feel just how heavy it is, the weight that comes down on you, that weight of my rage.

I don’t just want her, I mean, that chambermaid of ours, not to
come and make my bed, that companion of yours, and you neither,
I just want three days, three full days, where I just stay in peace and quiet,
and then I can fool around after that for a whole week even.

But if someone comes with a message from her, from Cassandre,
then open up for him right away the door, don’t make him wait,
and, quick quick, come into my chamber and get me all dressed up.

I so want this and only this, to show myself to that one, and to no one else.
Otherwise, why, even if a god should want to come down to me
from the heavens above, just close the door on him. Don’t let him come in.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *