On Translating Homer
, published in January 1861, was a printed version of the series of public lectures given by Matthew Arnold
as Professor of Poetry
from 3 November 1860 to 18 December 1860.
Arnold's purpose was to discuss how his principles of literary criticism
applied to the two Homeric epic
and to the translation of a classical text. He comments with disapproval on John Ruskin
's 1860 review article "The English translators of Homer" in the National Review
. He gives much space to comparing and criticising already-published translations of the epics, notably
He adds polite comments on William Maginn
's Homeric Ballads
(which first appeared in Fraser's Magazine
, where Arnold intended to publish these lectures).
Arnold identifies four essential qualities of Homer the poet to which the translator must do justice:<blockquote>that he is eminently rapid; that he is eminently plain and direct both in the evolution of his thought and in the expression of it, that is, both in his syntax and in his words; that he is eminently plain and direct in the substance of his thought, that is, in his matter and ideas; and, finally, that he is eminently noble</blockquote>
After a discussion of the meters employed by previous translators, and in other existing English narrative... Read More