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Author(s): A. S. Halkin
Review by: A. S. Halkin
Source: The Classical Weekly, Vol. 45, No. 2 (Nov. 26, 1951), pp. 26-27
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4343006
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After a sixteen-page introduction, in which he gives tions to Mr. Rieu's translation. But I predict that many
his reasons (similarity of structure, consistency in char- Greekless readers will bless him, as well as his publishers,
acter-drawing, etc.) for believing that the Iliad and for having made available such a readable and readily
Odyssey were given their final general form by a single comprehended version of Homer's timeless story and
poet, Mr. Rieu launches into his translation with "The achievement, and. at so reasonable a price.
Wrath of Achilles is my theme." The distance of that
P. H. EPPs
statement from Homer's "Sing, goddess, the wrath of
the son of Peleus, Achilles" is a good measure of how UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA

far Mr. Rieu's renderings often vary from what Homer

actually says.

This translation exhibits the marked British aptness How Greek Science Passed to the Arabs. By DE
for terms pertaining to royalty and to the sea. "My LACY O'LEARY. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul,
lords" (p. 23), "imperial Agamemnon" (25), "royal 1949. Pp. vi, 196. 15s.
Paris" (64), and the sea similes (84 and 88) are exam-
The story of the transmission of Greek science to the
ples. For examples of Mr. Rieu's clarity and verve in
Arabs (the choice of the name, although explained on
translation, see paragraph one on page 116, paragraph
p. 3, is not felicitous; "Muslim" would be much more
two on 118, and the description of the shield of Achilles
correct) as told in this book is an elaboration of a sketch
on 349-353.
in the author's earlier work Arabic Thought and Its
But this version is overloaded with colloquialisms, Place in History (London 1922; revised 1939) 1-55, 105-
such as "round on" a person, "bringing him to heel," 122. The present book gives a brief account of Hellenistic
'catch up" a person (for catch up with), "twisting Ares' and Roman rule in the Near East down to the legaliza-
tail" (p. 113), "let her have her head" (116), and "good tion of Christianity; of the Hellenistic tradition; of the
riddance to bad rubbish" (124). It is to be hoped that struggles and schisms within the Church to the time of
Greekless teachers of Greek literature in translation will the Arab conquest; of the penetration of Hellenism into
avoid tracing such particular colloquial expressions back India; of the early history of the Muslim empire; and of
to Homer. A few renderings are misleading, if not the translations of Greek works into Arabic. It concludes
entirely wrong. Witness "Angel of Zeus" (Dios ag- with an all-too-short chapter on Arab philosophers.
gelos, p. 441), "sullen" (smerdaleon, 49 and 52), "count Although the book contains much information and tes-
wrong" (otuk enoesen, 175), "stolen" (hel6n, 36), "well- tifies to its author's erudition, the performance as a whole
found" (polyklis, 42, and polyz-yAgos, 47), "beset at is not altogether creditable. (1) Much of the material,
every point with Fear" (meaning that Fear was wrought
regardless of its signiificance, is extraneous to the theme.
in every part of the aegis, 112), and "long-shadowed"
An understanding of the fate of Greek science in its
(instead of "long-shadowing" spear, 92). "It would go
bearing on Islamic civilization is hardly dependent on a
against the grain" for Hector's oud' eme thymos anogen
knowledge of the sectarian quarrels within the Church
(128-129) seems very inadequate. Here (which is the
or of the routes to India. Certainly the answer to the
correct transliteration) instead of Hera is unfortunate,
question raised in the title, which comes mainly from
when it comes, as it frequently does, at the beginning of
Jundi Shapur (p. 95), is in no need of these lengthy
a sentence. But happy turns of phrases in this transla-
accounts. (2) The book would have gained consider-
tion far outnumber such unfortunate renderings.
ably from a fuller exposition of the need of translation,
The most perplexing feature of Mr. Rieu's version is a profounder analysis of Muslim receptivity to Greek
the arbitrary way in which he often varies his rendering learning, a closer examination of the chosen works, of
of some fixed epithet regularly joined by Homer to some the difficulties encountered in translation, and of the cir-
person, place, or thing. For instance, one of the epithets culation of those books. (3) Not all of the judgments
regularly attached to Menelaus (areiphilos), besides made by the author are impressive by their weightiness
being ignored twice, is translated in Book 3 as "great," or validity. The influence of Hellenism on Christianity
"warrior," "mighty," "formidable," "my lord," "re- or even on its disputes (p. 45 and elsewhere) is over-
doubtable," "veteran," and on page 107 as "gallant." rated. The estimate of the Jewish attitude to astrology
Such a variety of renderings obscures one of the fixed (p. 4) is hasty. The certainty with which the author dis-
traits of Greek epic. This tendency to arbitrary varia- poses of the moot question regarding the relative im-
tion in translating appears also in the rendering of cer- portance of Jews or Christians as Muhammad's teachers
tain identical clauses. The same clause is translated (p. 95) is rather disturbing. (4) The repetitions found
(p. 121) "it was a thing he dared not do," but later in the book are puzzling; cf. pages 49 and 51, 56 and 57,
(128) as "he was too chivalrous to despoil him." The 54-55 and 74-75. (5) The style is not always good.
more literal "he stood in awe of the feeling in his heart"
(6) A considerable number of misprints mar the book
seems better than either of these variations.
(e.g., Ephraem dies in 375, p. 48, and 373, p. 51; Mogus
Such are some of the virtues and some of the objec- and Mongus p. 77).

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Dealing with a significant phase in the history of ters were numbered, but the lack of such numbering
human culture, the study could be made more useful and will be of little concern to the general reader.
usable if some of the foregoing remarks were taken into


Der hellenische Mensch. By MAX POHLENZ. G6ttin-

gen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1947. Pp. 478: 17 plates.
DM 21.
Xenophon, The Persian Expedition. Translated by
REX WARNER. ("The Penguin Classics," No. L7.) Instead of cultivating their gardens, retired professors
Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1949. often feel an urge to benefit the so-called "general reader"
Pp. 309. ls. 6d. by publishing the stale gist of their course notes as a
"popular" book. Herr Pohlenz has added to this emeritus
Mr. Warner feels that the work generally known as
production. Beside unavoidable comparisons between
Xenophon's Anabasis has a special claim to attention as
Germany and classic Greece, the book offers a whole
being sonething more than a record of one of the most
gamut of high-pitched but trivial half-truths about the
famous marches in history. "Unlike most of classical
ancient Greeks, their life and [Veltanschauung ("The Man
literature," he states in his Introduction (p. 11), "this
and Destiny," etc.). Thucydides is again the founder of
is an account of the day-to-day life of ordinary men
political historiography, Pericles a "Fiihrernatur" (p. 117),
and soldiers. We see here how Greek theories of gov-
ernment and morality worked out in practice." With
while Sophocles "was naively bound up with Nature" (p.
287). Even Sappho becomes pedestrian: she was recep-
this in mind, Warner has produced an excellent, mod-
ernized translation which, without sacrificing accuracy,
tive to sensual beauty, "yet" the soul was essential for
presents the subject matter in a form easily comprehen- her (p. 151). The author feels no hesitation over listing
sible to the general reader. the major features of "the" Greek man. He does not
even suspect that there is a problem here. Was there
The substitution of the title, The Persian Expedition, ever "the" Greek man, the same for Homer and for
for Anabasis-a name which is meaningless to the aver- Plutarch, the same from Marseille to Hamadan, the same
age reader-is indicative of a policy followed throughout in Aristotle and in Alexander? And if "the Greek man"
the work. Parasangs, for instance, are converted into is more than a universal, how is one to discover the
miles by the simple device of allowing three miles per dominant characteristics of this supposed reality? What
parasang. The translator apologetically admits that in- would Herr Pohlenz say if someone were foolhardy
accuracies occasionally result; but, in the opinion of this enough to generalize about "the" German man, let us
reviewer, the simplification achieved is more than ample say by mixing together some sentences from Hitler and
justification for the device. (According to this system, from Heine, and, for good measure, adding a couple of
parasangas triakonta in 1.2.11 should be "ninety miles" lines from Herr Pohlenz himself? Naive questions....
instead of "sixty miles," as indicated by Warner, unless, Herr Pohlenz's book is dedicated Dem deutscheni Ment-
of course, he is following a text which has a different schen.... Plates are good; the new Themistocles from
reading at this point.) A few Greek and Persian terms Ostia is particularly welcome.
are retained, either because the translator feels that they
add to the flavor of the story, as in the case of ELIAS J. BICKERMAN.
"hoplite" and "peltast," or because good English sub-
stitutes cannot be found; but most expressions of this
sort are eliminated.

Warner carefully avoids the archaic Eniglish so char- RECENT PUBLICATIONS

acteristic of translations of the classics. His idiom is
modern in every respect, at times even becoming refresh- This department is conducted by LIONEL CASSON, Contributing
ingly colloquial. In 1.3.2, for example, ... chalepos Editor, with the assistance of PHILIP MAYERSON. The list is
phero tois paroiisi pragniasin is rendered " ... I am up- compiled from current bibliographical catalogues and publishers'
trade lists, American, Belgian, British, Dutch, French, German,
set by the way things are going." In many cases, polys
Italian, Spanish, and Swiss, and includes books received at the
is translated "a lot of," as in 1.2.12, where chremata editorial office. Some errors and omissions are inevitable, but
polla becomes a "lot of money." CW makes every effort to ensure accuracy and completeness.
No commentary on the text itself is included, but a
brief historical sketch is prefixed to the translation, and
a glossary of names is added at the end. Specialists Aristeas. Aristeas to Philocrates (Letter of Aristeas).
would appreciate the work more if subdivisions of chap- A bi-lingual edition witlh notes and long introductory

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