Monday, September 20, 2004

A poem for Hector

The Greek Anthology is a collection of more than 4,000 short poems written over roughly 1,700 years (beginning in 700 BCE). The best source for selections in translation is Dudley Fitts’ Poems from the Greek Anthology (1938). Fitts is a brilliant translator and presents the poems in sharp, terse, perennially modern English. If you’ve read Oedipus in a classroom setting, you’ve probably read the translation by Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald.

Here is Fitts’ translation of an epitaph for Hector, from a poet known as Archias the Macedonian:

Stone, who was his father that lies beneath you?
What was his name? His country? What was his death?

His father was Priam. Ilion his country. His name
Was Hektor. He met death fighting for his land.

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