Page:The Iliad of Homer (Butler).djvu/12

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vii
PREFACE

epithet and title, sometimes due merely to the requirements of metre, and sometimes otiose, which abounds in the Iliad without in any way disfiguring it. We look, indeed, for the iteration and enjoy it. We are never weary of being told that Juno is white-armed, Minerva grey-eyed, and Agamemnon king of men; but had Homer written in prose he would not have told us these things so often. Therefore, though frequently allowing common form epithets and titles to recur, I have not less frequently suppressed them.

Lest, however, the reader should imagine that I have departed from the letter of the Iliad more than I have, I will give the first fifty lines or so of the best prose translation that has yet been made—I mean that of Messrs. Leaf, Lang, and Myers, to which throughout my work I have been greatly indebted. Often have they saved me from error, and rarely have I found occasion to differ from them as to the meaning of a passage. I do not believe that I have translated a single paragraph without reference to them, but this said, a comparison of their opening paragraphs with my own will show the kind of way in which I differ from them as to the manner in which Homer should be translated.

Their translation (here, by Dr. Leaf) opens thus:—

 

Sing, goddess, the wrath of Achilles Peleus' son, the ruinous wrath that brought on the Achaians woes innumerable, and hurled down into Hades many strong souls of heroes, and gave their bodies to be a prey to dogs and all winged fowls; and so the counsel of Zeus wrought out its