Tuesday, May 16, 2023


Unfaithful to Sophocles

Sophocles, Oedipus the King 1011 (tr. Stephen Berg and Diskin Clay):
I am afraid, afraid
Apollo's prediction will come true, all of it,
as god's sunlight grows brighter on a man's face at dawn
when he's in bed, still sleeping,
and reaches into his eyes and wakes him.

ταρβῶν γε μή μοι Φοῖβος ἐξέλθῃ σαφής.
Richard C. Jebb's translation:
Aye, I dread lest Phoebus prove himself true for me.
The fault lies with Berg, not Clay. I owe my knowledge of this mess to a review by Bernard Knox.

Cf. Oliver Wendell Holmes, quoted in Andrew F. West, ed., Value of the Classics (Princeton: Princetin University Press, 1917), p. 233:
It seems to me that people who think they are enjoying Euripides, for instance, in the charming translations that we know, probably are getting their pleasure from a modern atmosphere that is precisely what is not in the original.

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