The Penguin Book of Greek and Latin Lyric Verse (Hardback)
  • The Penguin Book of Greek and Latin Lyric Verse (Hardback)
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The Penguin Book of Greek and Latin Lyric Verse (Hardback)

(editor,translator), (afterword,author of introduction), (author)
£45.00
Hardback 1008 Pages
Published: 28/03/2024
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'Inspired and enlightening ... here is a work of staggering ambition, exceptional accomplishment, and surprisingly pleasant reading ... an excellent gift for anyone interested in classical literature' A. E. Stallings, Telegraph

'An extraordinary feat ... Over and over, I was impressed both by Childers's technical abilities and his vivid way of evoking the multiple voices in this rich tradition' Emily Wilson, translator of the Odyssey and the Iliad

'Where does the lyric begin? One answer – a capacious and generous one – is given by Christopher Childers's anthology, in which translations of both Greek and Latin lyric poetry are offered in large servings, with extensive and ambitious commentary ... bold and worthwhile ... readable and learned' Peter McDonald, TLS

'An extraordinary achievement, in scope, scale and skill' Richard Jenkyns, author of Classical Literature

The poems in this lively, wide-ranging and richly enjoyable anthology are the work of priestesses and warriors; of philosophers and statesmen; of teenage girls, concerned for their birthday celebrations; of drunkards and brawlers; of grumpy old men, and chic young things. Their authors write – or sing – about hopes, fears, loves, losses, triumphs and humiliations. Every one of them lived and died between 1,900 and 2,800 years ago.

The Penguin Book of Greek and Latin Lyric Verse is a volume without precedent. It brings together the best of two traditions normally treated in isolation, and in doing so tells a captivating story about how literature and book-culture emerged from an oral society in which memory and learning were transmitted through song. The classical vision of lyric poetry as understood by the greatest ancient poets – Sappho and Horace, Bacchylides and Catullus – mingles and interacts with our expansive modern vision of the lyric as the brief, personal, emotional poetry of a human soul laid bare.

Anyone looking for a picture of what ancient poets were up to when they were simply singing to the gods, or to their friends, or otherwise opening little verbal windows into their life and times can find it here. It is a volume full of fire and life: an undertaking of astonishing reach, and an accomplishment magisterial in its scope.

Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
ISBN: 9780241567449
Number of pages: 1008
Weight: 1300 g
Dimensions: 236 x 154 x 54 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

[A]n inspired and enlightening lunacy … here is a work of staggering ambition, exceptional accomplishment, and surprisingly pleasant reading … The risk of a single translator rendering many poets might be a homogenising flatness, but Childers retunes his instrument for different effects, adding a string, slapping on a capo, going electric or harmonic. Perhaps most originally, Childers aims to get us to perceive connections across not only centuries and poets but languages. Different metrical patterns are associated with different subgenres or ‘vibes’, and Childers is programmatic in his rendering of said patterns … Childers consistently, and sometimes brilliantly, turns out translations that also work as English poems … Childers’s elegant prose wears its learning lightly, and is often stealthily hilarious … The notes also point us to allusions to these poems or translations of them in the whole sweep of Anglophone poetry, and beyond, making this a relevant sourcebook for readers of Western poetry of any era … This book would make an excellent gift for anyone interested in classical literature: it practically amounts to a degree in classical literature in translation - A. E. Stallings, Daily Telegraph

For a long time the words ‘lyric’ and ‘poem’ have amounted to much the same thing ... Questions of origin ought to be important: so, where does the lyric begin? One answer – a capacious and generous one – is given by Christopher Childers’s anthology, in which translations of both Greek and Latin lyric poetry are offered in large servings, with extensive and ambitious commentary … This Penguin Book is both bold and worthwhile, as it puts on display such a wide range of ancient poems … Childers is a readable and learned guide to the very long story his anthology sets out to tell … Childers operates, of course, in a language to which Greek and Latin are as foreign as one another. It is a vast undertaking, with demands that go far beyond those presented by the familiar kinds of all-purpose classical translation into (more or less) free verse. Childers remains close to the Greek and Latin, and works in metrical, largely rhymed, English forms … He can certainly turn poems into new poems, not husks ... with his particular facility in rhyming couplets he can pull off the unlikely feat of making even Ovid’s Tristia (Sad Poems) compelling … Impressively often, Childers’s touch is sure and natural, and he is not defeated by either the tonal sophistication of Horace’s Odes or by Pindar’s combination of sonority and subtlety … his fundamental insight, which drives the entire anthology, is that poetic form matters ... he is not wrong - Peter McDonald, TLS

My overall impression of this volume is that it is an extraordinary feat. The translations are very impressive for their technical accomplishment. I loved the liveliness of Childers' use of multiple different verse forms, and management of meter and rhyme ... Childers is particularly good with comic and semi-comic poets - Catullus, Anacreon, Martial etc. - but he also rises to the challenge of making the complex lyrical leaps of Pindar and Bacchylides feel sonically alive. Over and over, I was impressed both by Childers's technical abilities and his vivid way of evoking the multiple voices in this rich tradition - Dr. Emily Wilson

This is an extraordinary achievement, in scope, scale and skill. I hope that it will make a splash, as it deserves to. The translations are remarkably faithful to the originals, especially given the constraints of rhyme (the use of which I applaud) - Professor Richard Jenkyns

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