Works of Hesiod and the Homeric Hymns

By Hesiod; Daryl Hine | Go to book overview

TRANSLATOR’S NOTE

In this version of what might be called the “Rhapsodies and Prefaces of
the Sons of Homer,” I have imitated the meter and diction of the original,
in an attempt to give some taste of the peculiar flavor of these hymns,
which seem at once solemn and facetious, gay and grand. My dactylic
hexameters I allow to contain more undiluted dactyls than the Greek; the
lines are, with few exceptions, purely dactylic through the fifth foot; the
sixth foot is more often trochaic than spondaic, as the rules of classical
scansion would approve. The reason for the predominance of dactyls lies
in the accentual character of the English language, where spondees are
few and three stressed syllables (as must arise in the case of a spondee fol-
lowed by a dactyl), almost unheard of. The effect here, though more mo-
notonous, is lighter than that of the original and at least avoids those
confusing hiatuses that result from any attempt to write true classical
hexameters in English. So powerful has the dactylic rhythm proved, in
fact, that I have taken liberties with the accents of certain words for
prosodic reasons, much as a composer might set the occasional syllable
in such a way as to outrage its spoken pattern while preserving his tune.
Thus, while “immortal” and “undying” are accented on the penult, both
seem to me defensibly to scan as dactyls because of the audible length of
the first foot. Readers are not to quibble at syllables if they hear through-
out the steady measure of the hexameter.

The diction of the Homeric Hymns presents as many problems in En-
glish as it does in Greek. Composed, at a most conservative estimate, over
a period of a thousand years—from 600 BC to AD 400—these lays and
invocations in the Homeric style are, like all classical poetry, often delib-
erately archaic and almost invariably precious. Of great lexicographical
interest, they present many odd and out of the way usages and abound, as
their frequent citations in Liddell and Scott’s Greek dictionary show, in
hapax legomena. My rule has been to follow the sense, and sometimes the

-91-

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Works of Hesiod and the Homeric Hymns
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Hesiod - Works and Days Theogony 21
  • Works and Days 23
  • Theogony 53
  • The Homeric Hymns - The Battle of the Frogs and the Mice 89
  • Translator’s Note 91
  • The Homeric Hymns 95
  • The Battle of the Frogs and the Mice 197
  • Index 209
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