From Virgil to Milton

From Virgil to Milton

From Virgil to Milton

From Virgil to Milton

Excerpt

This book is a study of the literary epic in four of its chief examples, and especially of certain characteristics which seem to belong to this kind of poetry. Though the epic has lost much of its old popularity, it remains one of the most remarkable expressions of the poetic art and is an important source of information for all who are interested in ideals of manhood. I have limited myself to these four authors because they seem to me greater than any of their many rivals and because they cover a wide variety of experience. Since quotations in foreign languages may cause trouble to some readers, I have given translations. Fortunately both Tasso and Camões found translators when the epic was still a living art. Sir Edward Fairfax published his version of Tasso in 1600 and Sir Richard Fanshawe his version of Camões in 1655. No modern translator can hope to rival their vigour and vitality, and if I have sometimes deserted or emended them, it is simply in the interests of greater accuracy. There is no comparable translation of Virgil, and I have done the best that I can for him, though I have occasionally used the translation by C. J. Billson and am grateful to Mr. B. H. Blackwell for permission to do so. I am also grateful to Professor W. J. Entwistle for helping me with my chapter on Camões and for making it less erroneous than it would otherwise have been.

C. M. BOWRA OXFORD, December 5th, 1944 . . .

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