The poetry of the archaic period that the Greeks called iambic is characterized by scornful criticism of friend and foe and by sexual license. The purpose of these poems is unclear, but they seem to have some connection with cult songs used in religious festivals—for example, those honoring Dionysus and Demeter. In this completely new Loeb Classical Library edition of early Greek iambic poetry, Douglas E. Gerber provides a faithful and fully annotated translation of the fragments that have come down to us.
Archilochus expressed himself in colorful and vigorous language. Famous throughout antiquity for his winged barbs, he is often considered the archetypal poet of blame. Other major poets in this volume are Semonides, best known for a long misogynistic poem describing ten types of wives; and Hipponax, who was much admired by the poets of Hellenistic Alexandria, in part for his depictions of the licentious and seamy side of society.
These two additions to the Loeb Classical Library [Greek Iambic Poetry and Greek Elegiac Poetry] will be welcomed by readers at all levels. Archolicus, Hipponax, Solon, the Theognidea, and many others are now accessible as never before...The translations, into prose, are wonderfully clear and readable. All traces of translationese have been removed, or more likely were never there. While the revisions are plain, they are always instructive and can be elegant. It will repay students to read these versions not just as a crib, but to compare them carefully with the Greek. There are surprises and delights for the attentive...Gerber has a gift for finding English that shows how the Greek works...The notes are marvels of condensed information...Gerber throughout the notes writes in a clear, concise, and scrupulous style. In effect he had summarized for his readers a great deal of information about current interpretations and problems of dozens and dozens of fragments...Gerber has distilled an impressive amount of scholarship. That feat, together with the excellence of his translations, makes these volumes among the most distinguished of those recently issued.
The contemporary literalness of Gerber's translations will fo much to make these poems appealing and accessible to undergraduates...Gerber successfully transmits both the letter and the spirit of the Greek, and his eloquent directness will be welcome to both scholars and students.
- 560 pages
- 1-3/16 x 4-1/4 x 6-3/8 inches
- Harvard University Press
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