Wednesday, April 7, 2021

translating Horace

 This book about the Romans is way more interesting than I expected it to be. The present chapter is on Horace. The author says it is impossible to accurately translate his poetry*; she does quote some of his prose, however. "I can do nothing about what fate sends me, but I can do everything about the way I take what is sent. I can so order my own spirit that no matter how outrageous fortune is I can keep my balance within unmoved. Do you know, friend, what I feel, for what I pray? Not to waver to and fro, hanging upon the hope of the dubious hour. God may give this or that - life - wealth. I will my own self make my spirit undisturbed." 

                                                   -   The Roman Way, by Edith Hamilton

*Her reason is not that his poetry cannot really be translated, but that with him, it's the way he says things, the words he so carefully chooses that make him unique. So a translation would fail to show that.