Translating the Iliad Into More Contemporary Language Term Paper

Pages: 20 (6546 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Communication - Language

Translating the Iliad into more contemporary language, with a dramatic change in setting presents many challenges. The first is to decide the degree to which the work needs to be translated.

This alone consists of multiple different concepts that must be integrated. For example, there is the issue of substitution. With an entirely different setting, certain things must be substituted, as things and concepts may not exist within the new setting. On a superficial level, we have to consider whether implements such as spears would exist, and if not what would be used in their stead. But soon it becomes apparent that many such substitutions are not superficial at all. One has to re-imagine the entire universe in which the story is now taking place. If not spears, what might they use? I imagined a world of hardscrabble humans who have spent five hundred years eking out survival in a world of limited natural resources and equipment handed down from generation to generation. The main weapons of warfare couldn't be guns because the supply of bullets would be limited after 500 years so something else must be devised.

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This chapter highlights issues such as the importance of possessions to the Greeks. The Aquarian Greeks clearly would hold similar esteem for material goods, especially given the nature of their society, but the goods would be different. I decided that while it was possible that some animals came with the humans, they were not a Noah's Ark. I allowed for dogs in one passage, but did not feel horses would have made the journey. Replacing them were motorcycles, which I decided were a form of transportation efficient enough for the Aquarian world and its limited fuel. This analogy is continued through a character like Nestor, who goes from being a charioteer to an old biker.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Translating the Iliad Into More Contemporary Language, Assignment

The biker, however, brings up another challenge. When doing a translation on a line-by-line basis, we must keep the poem relatively intact. This does not facilitate significant deviation. The original poem operates under the assumption that certain things need not be explained - everybody reading knows what spears and chariots are. A far-flung substitution might make more sense in a fully re-imagined world, but such a world is inherently unfamiliar to the reader. In that sense, there is a certain amount of expositive text that is needed to explain the world to the reader, and such text is not explicitly present in the Iliad. So we are apt to use archetypes that are at least somewhat familiar to the modern reader - motorcycles and bikers being examples key to this chapter. While this makes Nestor's character immediately understandable to the reader, it jeopardizes the consistency of our futuristic universe. In the course of 500 years of catastrophic societal changes, surely the biker archetype will have been long forgotten.

Thus, in the course of the translation, certain concessions are made for the sake of expediency - a complete and direct translation may be the desired outcome but is not always going to be possible.

The other main issue in terms of translation is the language itself. Fagles' translation is addressed to a literate audience. In doing our translation, we must consider what our audience is going to be. Because we are maintaining the poem structure, we are maintaining a literate audience. The structure is epic, and that forms a part of the experience. The muscularity of the language is every bit as important as the words and ideas themselves. The experience of the work is drawn from all facets, when a form such as this is used. In that regard, there is only so far one can take the translation to colloquial English before the majesty of the work is corrupted. As it is, even though I approached the translation with a light hand I still felt the poetry was compromised

Aside from the above challenges, the biggest logistical challenge was the replace the concept of gods with computer programs. This is a major substitution. The role of gods in Homer's work and their interaction with humans is not something that translates well to a different context. The gods of Homer are personifications and it seemed to me difficult to translate that to machines. Moreover, they exist in a non-corporeal world, sliding in and out of character's minds and appearing wherever they wish at a moment's notice. The computer programs on the other hand are bound by the corporeal world. Messages are sent to the humans in a very literal sense, rather than in the spiritual way that Homer does this. Moreover, Homer's Greeks are devoutly religious while the "Greeks" of Aquarius 9 would be relating to these computers in a completely different way. So the superficial expunging of all religiosity ultimately cuts deep into the core of the character's personalities and motivations.

Marauding Through the Night

So by the ships the other leaders of Achaea's armies slept all night long, overcome by gentle sleep

But not the great field marshall Agamemnon he tossed and turned all night:

his mind kept churning and seething. Like Zeus' commands when the master program takes matters into its own hands threatening to send a flurry of viruses or unresolved equations or perpetual loops that cripple the fleet - or instigating, somewhere on Aquarius 9, a brutal war so thick and fast the groans came from Atrides, wrenching his chest and heaving up from his heart, rocking his spirit to the very core.

Now as he scanned across the Trojan plain

Agamemnon marveled in horror at those fires, thousand fires blazing against the walls of Troy, and the hammer of blastbeats and guitars and the furious screaming of men.

And now as he glanced back at Achaea's troops and ships he tore out his hair by the roots, he thought about Zeus' AI, and cursed the program from the depths of his proud, embattled heart.

But soon this recourse struck his mind as best:

he would go and approach the son of Neleus first and see if Nestor could work out something with him, some foolproof plan that just might ward off disaster for the Achaean forces.

He rose up quickly and over his chest he pulled a bullet-proof vest, onto his feet he fastened his worn-out steel-toe construction boots, round him slung the carbon-fiber windbreaking shawl, swinging down to his heels, and grasped a Concussion-Grenade Launcher.

And the same anguish shook Menelaus too he couldn't sleep, not now.

He was afraid his men might meet the worst at last, comrades who crossed the vast sea for him to raise Troy and mount their fierce assault.

First he covered his broad back with a windbreaker, battered with age but essential on this planet, then lifting a round helmet of good sturdy titanium alloy, he fitted it to his head, he took a CGL in his grip and strode off to rouse his brother, the king of all the Argives, the armies that prized him in his power like a supercomputer.

And Menelaus found him alongside his ship's stern, strapping his combat gear around his shoulders.

Agamemnon warmed with pleasure as he came up but Menelaus lord of the war cry ventured first,

Why are you arming now, my man? To spur a volunteer to spy on Trojan lines? Not a man in sight will take that mission on, I'm afraid, and go against our enemies, scout them out alone in the bracing Aquarian night it will take a ballsy man to do the job."

King Agamemnon answered crisply, "Tactics,

Menelaus. That's what we need now, you and I both, and cunning tactics, too.

Something to protect and save our men and ships since Zeus' interest has turned - his motivations are set on Hector's favor more than ours.

I've never seen or heard tell of a single man wreaking so much havoc in one day as Hector,

Zeus' favorite, wreaks against our troops, and all on his own - no aid from any of the other programs.

He's handed our ass to us, I tell you. Pain for Achaeans, pain we won't forget for a long time what an asskicking he's put on our men!

Go now, call Ajax, Idomeneus, quickly, and make a run for it down along the ships.

I'll go after Nestor, wake him up, see if the good man wants to join the guard, that strong contingent and give them orders.

He's the one they'll obey. His own son commands the sentry line, he and Idomeneus' assistant Meriones.

They above all - we put those men in charge."

The lord of the war cry nodded. "Yes, fine, but what orders do you have for me? Do I stay with them, waiting for you to come? Or follow you on the run, once I've given the captains your command?"

The marshal made things clearer: "You stay there so we don't miss one another rushing back and forth in the endless maze of pathways up and down the camp.


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