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the Greek poets. The French, whose metrical translations of the ancients were on the same principle as our own of former days, seem now to have abandoned metre altogether, furnishing the world with prose translations, and the Germans alone occupy a high position as translators into verse of the ancient authors. The question is, whether they could have obtained this position without adopting, as they have done, the original metres.
In my opinion they could not, and so strongly am I persuaded of the soundness of their principle, that I am convinced it must either be adopted, or a close approximation must be made to it, or the French mode must be followed, and we must put up with the lifelessness of a lyric without metre. Nowhere, but in translations on the German model, can I find any thing but clever jeux d'esprit written with more or less elegance ;-nowhere but in these translations can I find a reproduction of an author, that is in some sort a substitute, though an imperfect one, for the original.
I am aware of the objection that a poem, written in English, and in classical metre, would not be "popular." popular." This objection I would meet with the question: What ancient lyric poem in any metre can be popular, in the ordinary sense of the word? Mr. Dyer, in a recent number of this Museum, very properly animadverted on the absurdity of a popular edition of Æschylus, and to me appears equally absurd the notion of a popular translation of Pindar, or even of Horace, for the acquisitions of a schoolboy, who has only fagged through a Latin poet or two, remove him far-far from the merely popular condition. The morals, manners, and motives which we find in ancient authors, are so totally different from the ordinary things that surround us, that the enjoyment of their works proceeds from a state of mind eminently artificial, though it has been implanted in many of the educated portion at so early an age, that it has become to them like a second nature. I do not believe there was ever found in any modern nation a single man who, never having opened a book in any language but his own, was an ardent admirer of Horace, though he might have access to the most perfect translations. It may be laid down as a certain fact, that the readers of a translated poem are either those who are adepts in the original language, and wish to see
how the translator has got through his task, or are those who, though they are no longer masters of Greek and Latin, have some sort of school reminiscence, which enables them vaguely to appreciate a work of the kind. The great Epic poets form an exception, and naturally so, because they are often read for the sake only of the story they tell, and therefore, with some, enter into the category of history.
With the conviction, then, that no translation of an antique poem can be popular, that is to say, can afford pleasure to any one who is not trained up to the capability of appreciating an antique treatment; we ask why the ancient metres may not be adopted here as in Germany. The adoption would, I am sure, go far to secure fidelity of translation; for though it would be too much to say, that a word in our language, corresponds in length with a word in another language corresponding in meaning, any one who tries his hand at translating will find that an adhesion to the original metre, -a resolution to retain, as far as possible, the contents of a line of the original in a corresponding line of translation, operates as a powerful check to the licentious introduction of expletives, or equally licentious omissions. The work is, as it were, proved at every step.
The fact, that the ancients measured their verse by quantity, whereas we measure ours by accent, seems to me to be of less importance than is commonly imagined. The question is not, whether we can write such hexameters as would satisfy the ear of Virgil himself, but whether we can write them, so as to give to a modern a pleasure approximating to that which he receives on reading a classic poet. And it certainly appears to me, that it is by a system of accents that our ear is chiefly affected, when we take pleasure in any unsung verse, ancient or modern, although we judge of the correctness of the former by the application of certain rules and authorities. It has been said, that when a person pronounces the word "Italia" thus: "Itallia," he observes accent instead of quantity, and that when in scanning a line he makes it "I'talia," he observes quantity instead of accent; but may it not be said, quite as truly, as far as the English ear is concerned, that he has but shifted the place of the accent?1 In reflecting upon this point it is most essential
It is scarcely necessary to state that the Greek accents are not at all taken into consideration in the above.
to distinguish the pleasure received by the sense of hearing from that which consists in observing the conformity with the laws of metre. The latter would be entirely destroyed by the substitution of a trochee for a spondee in one of the first four feet of a hexameter, the former would be much more possible, than if the substituted foot were an iambus.
From these considerations may be deduced not only the possibility of writing English in classic metres, so as to satisfy the ear, but also the rule that is to be laid down in the construction of the verse. The English words being for the most part free from those laws of quantity which bind the ancients, a much greater latitude may be allowed with respect to the "longs" and "shorts;" but the place of the "ictus" should be observed with the most scrupulous exactness. The same word may be made to perform the functions of a spondee and a trochee, but not those of a trochee and an iambus. At the same time, all that is done on the side of license should be rather pardoned than encouraged; and though such a word as, e.g., "wisely" may stand in a spondee's place, a word with more weight in its second syllable would be preferable. The translator should steadily keep in view that his reader is not merely to glance at a scheme of versification first, and then torture the words into an adaptation to that scheme, but that the words themselves should mark the position of the ictus.
I subjoin, as a practical illustration of these remarks, a translation of Horace, Book 1. Ode x., in which the unaccented places are not observed so rigidly as I could have wished, but in which I think the "ictus" will be found correctly placed. It should be observed that I consider the first foot to be an Epitritus secundus, with the ictus on the first syllable only, but that at the same time, I consider the third syllable as more marked than the fourth. The apparent deviation from this principle in the second strophe is justified by the stop that occurs after the word "messenger." The name "Priam” is treated as if the first syllable were long, though it really is not so, this being the only way of pronunciation to which the English ear is accustomed. "Priam," as we pronounce it, forced into the second half of a dactyl, would be intolerable. For a similar reason, the short "i" before a vowel, as in "Thessalian," is not considered a syllable.
Atlas' grandson, eloquent-speaking Hermes,
Thee I sing, to Jove and the gods immortal
Thou art skill'd in hiding whate'er may please thee,
While Apollo sought by his threats to scare thee,
Thou hadst stol'n, he could not refrain from laughter,
Wealthy Priam leaving his Troy-in safety
Pass'd Thessalian watches, and pass'd encampments
Thou to habitations of bliss restorest
Pious souls'; light shades with thy gold caduceus
A CONTRIBUTION TO THE HISTORY OF ROMAN LITERATURE.'
In addition to the authors mentioned by Bähr2, who have written on Victorinus, the ecclesiastical writer and grammarian, the subject has been lately treated by Osann3, but in such a manner, that, notwithstanding some ingenious views, instead of illustrating or solving the question, he has rather involved it in greater obscurity. It would be strange indeed, when there is no agreement as to the name, that there could be the same opinion about the individual and his writings. It is therefore of the first importance to determine the name of the writer concerning whose life and works there is here question.
1. Gaius Marius. Hieronymus calls him, in Catal. Script. Eccles. CI., simply "Victorinus, natione Afer." He says that he was a teacher of rhetoric at Rome in the reign of Constantine; that he became a Christian at a very advanced age, and wrote some very obscure books against Arius, and also commentaries on the epistles of the Apostle (commentarios in Apostolum). But the same Hieronymus, in another passage4, gives him the fuller name, Gaius Marius Victorinus. That this can be no other person is evident from his own words: "Non quod ignorem, Gaium Marium Victorinum, qui Romæ pueros rhetoricam docuit, edidisse commentarios in Apostolum." The signature also of the Basle Codex of Victorinus's Commentary to Cicero's Rhetoric, bears, according to Orelli, the name of Marius: "MARII VICTORINI oratoris clarissimi in Marci Tullii Ciceronis veteris editionis Rhetoricen commentariorum libri duo expliciunt feliciter." Also Cassiodorus (De Rhet., tom. II. p. 535. Garet) gives him the same name. And these names are now considered genuine by Orelli, Osann, and Bähr.
2. Fabius. The name Fabius, which Cave (Script. Eccles. 1. p. 228) joins with Marius, has been lately rejected or doubted. Now, in support of this name, I can adduce a very important authority.
Translated from the author's MS.
by G. F. Graham.
2 In his History of Roman Literature, vol. 11. § 307, note 10.
3 Beiträge zur Griechischen und Römischen Litteraturgeschichte, vol. 11. Præf. Comm. in Epist. ad Gal.