Monday, July 31, 2017


Visiting Athens

Aristophanes, Clouds 300-313 (sung by the chorus of Clouds; tr. Jeffrey Henderson, with his notes):
Rainbearing maidens,
let us visit the gleaming land of Pallas, to see the ravishing country
of Cecrops with its fine men,
where ineffable rites are celebrated, where
the temple that receives initiates
is thrown open during the pure mystic festival;22
and where there are offerings to the heavenly host,
temples with lofty roofs and statues,
most holy processions for the Blessed Ones,
well-garlanded victims for the gods, and feasts
in all seasons;
and with spring comes the grace of Bromius,23
the rivalry of melodious choruses
and the deep toned music of pipes.

22The Eleusinian Mysteries.
23"The Noisy," a poetic title for Dionysus; the festival envisioned here is the City Dionysia with its dramas.

παρθένοι ὀμβροφόροι,
ἔλθωμεν λιπαρὰν χθόνα Παλλάδος, εὔανδρον γᾶν        300
Κέκροπος ὀψόμεναι πολυήρατον·
οὗ σέβας ἀρρήτων ἱερῶν, ἵνα
μυστοδόκος δόμος
ἐν τελεταῖς ἁγίαις ἀναδείκνυται·
οὐρανίοις τε θεοῖς δωρήματα,        305
ναοί θ᾿ ὑψερεφεῖς καὶ ἀγάλματα,
καὶ πρόσοδοι μακάρων ἱερώταται
εὐστέφανοί τε θεῶν θυσίαι θαλίαι τε
παντοδαπαῖσιν ὥραις,        310
ἦρί τ᾿ ἐπερχομένῳ Βρομία χάρις
εὐκελάδων τε χορῶν ἐρεθίσματα
καὶ μοῦσα βαρύβρομος αὐλῶν.
"Heavenly hosts," with its Biblical ring, grates on my ears as a translation of οὐρανίοις ... θεοῖς (line 305). In the Bible the phrase refers to angels, not gods as here.

Alan H. Sommerstein, "On Translating Aristophanes: Ends and Means," Greece & Rome 20.2 (October, 1973) 140-154 (at 154) calls this "the most beautiful of Aristophanes' many beautiful lyrics."

The same, tr. F.L. Lucas:
O maiden bringers of rain
Let us arise and go where sunlight-smitten glow
The lovely walls of Pallas and the proud Cecropidae;
Where the rites none dare reveal again
Are wrought in mystery,
And pilgrims throng the hallowed portals,
And shrines of the Gods with gifts are dressed,
And temples tower, with their carved Immortals,
Amid processions of the blest,
With wreaths and revels and offerings burning
Through all the round of the circling year;
And Bromius graces the spring returning,
And music of choirs sets the senses yearning,
And droning of pipes delights the ear.
K.J. Dover's commentary ad loc.:

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?