Sappho and the Vigil of Venus
THE VIGIL OF VENUS
ARTHUR S. WAY, D.Lit.
TRANSLATIONS INTO ENGLISH VERSE OF HOMER'S ILIAD AND ODYSSEY
THE GREEK DRAMATISTS, VIRGIL, LUCRETIUS, HESIOD, ETC.
MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED
NEW YORK: THE MACMILLAN CO.
The plan on which the following translations have been attempted is, I believe, original, and, I freely admit, audacious. The translator has essayed to weave together into connected wholes fragments which, being in the same metre, and, being conceivably connected in a sequence, or sequences, of thought, may possibly have been parts of one poem.
Sappho is known to the general reader only by an ode and a half: but there are extant besides over 170 fragments, most of them very short, consisting in some cases of but a single word. Yet of these many, indeed most, are very tantalizing in their suggestiveness; and our poets, notably Swinburne, have expanded some of them into fairly long poems. The present translator has attempted no such flights. His endeavour has been, not the presumptuous one of restoring Sappho's Odes, but that of presenting some of her thoughts, grouped together, with just sufficient connective matter of his own to produce an intelligible sequence, in the hope of thus making the fragments as interesting to the general reader as they have been to the scholar—for whose scandalized eyes this version is, I need scarcely say, not intended. The reference-numbers are to the fragments as they are given in Wharton's second edition, a work to which I gratefully own my obligations in the preparation of this book. They are prefixed to each ode in the order in which they are used. No attempt has been made to gather into sequences those few fragments in which the thought is complete in itself, and which may, therefore, have been substantive short poems.
I have appended to this little series of translations a version (made from the text adopted by Dr. Mackail in the Loeb Classical Library) of the Pervigilium Veneris, an epithalamium (it may be) composed by an unknown poet who lived (according to one conjecture) in the reign of Hadrian, the Emperor who revived with great magnificence the worship of Venus. I have been led to do so because, of all the remains of antiquity, it seems to breathe most of the spirit of Sappho, and its composer may well have been inspired by a perusal of her poems.
|I.||To the Queen of Love||1|
|II.||To a Beloved One||2|
|III.||The Moon and Stars||4|
|V.||Invocation to Aphrodite||4|
|VI.||To her maiden-friends||5|
|VII.||A Vision of Aphrodite||5|
|VIII.||To one false in love||6|
|IX.||To the Muse of Lyric Song||7|
|X.||Self-restraint when angered||7|
|XI.||Alcaeus and Sappho||7|
|XII.||A last word at parting||8|
|XIII.||Leto and Niobe||8|
|XV.||The torments of love||12|
|XVI.||To her girl-friends||13|
|XVII.||A Lament for Adonis||14|
|XIX.||"He cometh not," she said||16|
|XX.||To a Rich Vulgarian||16|
|XXI.||Leda and the Swan's Egg||17|
|XXII.||To A Young Wooer||18
|XXIII.||"I canna min' my wheel, mither"||19|
|XXIV.||To a Girl in a Garden||19|
|XXV.||The Death of Adonis||20|
|Pervigilium Veneris. The Vigil of Venus||27|
BY THE SAME AUTHOR.
THE ILIAD OF HOMER DONE INTO ENGLISH VERSE.
In 2 vols., price 12/6 net.
"Close, spirited, swift in movement, and simple. . . The merits are such as to place Mr. Way's performance in the front rank of Homeric translations. . . Mr. Way's version is never bald, frigid, or pompous. In the point of metrical form it has advanced on all its predecessors; his metre comes very near, in length, volume and movement, to being a genuine English equivalent for the Greek Hexameter."—Saturday Review.
"He is a trustworthy scholar; he has fire and speed enough and to spare. He holds our attention; we read him for his own sake. . . A work which we heartily admire."—Athenæum.
Mr. Way has accomplished a remarkable feat. A line-for-line translation . . rendered with absolute conscientiousness, with scholarlike accuracy, and with unflagging vigour, is a success of which the author may well be proud."—Oxford Magazine.
"Really a great success. . . There is a sonorous roll in it, and a variety of pause, a flexibility, a richness, and a dignity about it that make it approach nearer to the splendid music of the Greek than anything else that has been produced in the same line. The diction, too, of the translation is Homeric, while Pope has smoothed and polished away all character out of his original, and its fidelity is really remarkable."—Pall Mall Gazette.
THE ODYSSEY OF HOMER DONE INTO ENGLISH VERSE.
Third edition, price 7/6 net.
"The work of a poet of no mean merit. . . We had till now thought Mr. Worsley's Odyssey in the Spenserian Stanza as satisfactory a version as was possible, but Avia has shown cause why we should reconsider that judgment. . . Has given us, and we trust it will give many of our readers, real and genuine pleasure. . . Original and brilliant."—Saturday Review.
"Has life and movement; has what we might be allowed to call 'go,' in speaking of a work of a different character. . . Has secured what is absolutely essential in Homeric translation, something that answers to the 'bright speed' of the hexameter. . . Scarcely a safe book to give to an imaginative boy, for he would shout his favourite passages about the house as loudly as Walter Scott, when a boy, shouted 'Hardyknute.' . . Truly inspired by the Odyssey."—Athenæum.
"The most successful attempt made of late years to reproduce the vigorous ring of the original. The task of selection is no easy one, as almost every page contains some happy rendering of the Greek or some passage instinct with the true Homeric spirit."—John Bull.
THE TRAGEDIES OF EURIPIDES IN ENGLISH VERSE.
Vol. i, price 10/- net. Vols. ii and iii out of print.
The Alcestis, Medea, and Hecuba are published separately, price 1/9 each.
"Brilliant and scholarly. As regards execution, a strange thing has come to pass. Mr. Way is actually more successful in his rhymed lyric choral odes than in the dialogue. The choral odes have been the despair of translators, who have essayed every means of overcoming and evading the difficulty. Clearly the English lyric in the manner of Dryden or Collins is the best substitute; but who can be trusted to strike a clear and harmonious note on that lyre which is so irresponsive to a feeble touch? Mr. Way can . . the lyrics have a real lyric swing about them. There is hardly a choral ode in which we do not find really successful efforts to combine a highly poetic style with a faithful reproduction of the thought of the poet. The introduction on 'Euripides and his Work' is admirable; it is instructive, judicious, and eloquent . . most interesting. The student of Greek will admire his work for its fidelity and scholarship; and he who has no Greek will get nearer to Euripides than he ever approached before."—Saturday Review.
"Wonderfully successful; maintains a high level of dignity. We like more than ever the lilt of his rendering of choric metres. . . Will stand alone in the English language as the nineteenth century translation of Euripides."—Speaker.
"Mr. Way is, perhaps, the most successful living translator of the Greek poets. His Iliad is as spirited as Chapman's, and is, therefore, better than any other English version. His Euripides has the same fidelity to the original, with a spirit and movement which make the translation as readable as an English poem."—Daily News.
Æschylus in English Verse. 3 vols.