Title: Odes and Carmen Saeculare of Horace
Release Date: April, 2004 [EBook #5432] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on July 18, 2002] [Date last updated: August 28, 2005]
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THE ODES AND CARMEN SAECULARE OF HORACE
Translated into English verse
by John CONINGTON, M.A.
Corpus professor of Latin in the
University of Oxford.
I scarcely know what excuse I can offer for making public this attempt to “translate the untranslatable.” No one can be more convinced than I am that a really successful translator must be himself an original poet; and where the author translated happens to be one whose special characteristic is incommunicable grace of expression, the demand on the translator’s powers would seem to be indefinitely increased. Yet the time appears to be gone by when men of great original gifts could find satisfaction in reproducing the thoughts and words of others; and the work, if done at all, must now be done by writers of inferior pretension. Among these, however, there are still degrees; and the experience which I have gained since I first adventured as a poetical translator has made me doubt whether I may not be ill-advised in resuming the experiment under any circumstances. Still, an experiment of this kind may have an advantage of its own, even when it is unsuccessful; it may serve as a piece of embodied criticism, showing what the experimenter conceived to be the conditions of success, and may thus, to borrow Horace’s own metaphor of the whetstone, impart to others a quality which it is itself without. Perhaps I may be allowed, for a few moments, to combine precept with example, and imitate my distinguished friend and colleague, Professor Arnold, in offering some counsels to the future translator of Horace’s Odes, referring, at the same time, by way of illustration, to my own attempt.