The Iliad of Homer (Pope)/front matter
"It is certainly the noblest version of poetry that the world has ever seen," said Dr. Johnson, "and its publication must therefore be considered as one of the great events in the annals of Learning."
Pope was twenty-five when he began his translations of the Iliad—thirty when he finished. It lifted him at one bound to affluence and power. It was a remarkable experiment in publishing, and many of Pope's friends shook their heads at his temerity in attempting to subscribe the work, almost single-handed, at the unheard-of price of six guineas for six quarto volumes. But in face of the greatest difficulties—not the least of which was the increasing gibes of his political enemies—the poet succeeded triumphantly. The full history of the book is given by Dr. Johnson in his Lives of the Poets, and deserves to be read by all who like literary pluck.
Gibbon called this translation "a portrait endowed with every merit save that of faithfulness to the original." Therein spoke the stickler for classical accuracy. All that need here be said is that Pope's work has survived the test of popularity, and certainly remains to-day the best-known and most widely-esteemed of translations from the Greek.
Alexander Pope was born in 1688, and died in 1744. His life was full of bitter moments, for he contended with physical disabilities, but of him a friend wrote: "I never knew a man that had so tender a heart for his particular friends, or more general friendship for mankind."
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