TRUE HEROIC POETRY
. . . I am confirmed in my former application to you, . . . that you wou'd proceed in translating that incomparable Poet, to make him speak good English, to dress his admirable characters in your proper, significant, and expressive conceptions, and to make his works as useful and instructive to this degenerate age, as he was to our friend Horace, when he read him at Praeneste. . . .
( Sir William Trumbull to Pope, 9 April 1708)
IN the version of the Rape of the Lock printed in his Works of 1717, Pope introduced for the first time the well- known speech in which Clarissa urges Belinda to take a more sensible view of her loss of the lock, the lines beginning,
Say, why are Beauties praisd and honour'd most,
The wise man's Passion, and the vain Man's Toast . . .
A note describes the passage as 'a parody of the speech of Sarpedon to Glaucus in Homer'. Pope's public career as a translator of the Iliad began with his publishing a version of this speech in 1709,1 although he probably tried his hand at Englishing Homer some years before, since he tells us that Homer was 'the first author' that made him 'catch the itch of poetry'. Sarpedon's speech may have been especially vivid to him in 1717 because he had almost certainly been translating the twelfth book of the Iliad, in which it occurs, during that year.2 Both the note and the parody imply that the reader will certainly know the original or at least a translation, perhaps that of Denham, which Pope himself may have had in mind. Not only the Rape of the Lock, but much of Pope's____________________