A Good Translation

Thanks to Dad29's pointer, this feels right to me.
I have great wealth—a spear and a sword
and the good shield of animal hide, skin's protector;
for with this I plough, with this I reap,
with this I tread the sweet wine from the grape-vine,
with this I am named master of vassals.

Those who dare not wield a spear and a sword
and the good shield of animal hide, skin's protector:
all these men, falling around my knee,
worship me, calling me
master and great king.
He offers several other translations that have been given over the years, as well as the original Greek to compare, if you have the tongue yourself. 'Yeoman,' one says! Well, Sam Aylward, perhaps; but I think the concept is out of place even there.

"Vassal" is a little out of place, too, though there is a predecessor concept that is more applicable. Witness Homer, speaking of the warriors who were sworn to Achilles (from the Fitzgerald):
...Like wolves,
Carnivorous and fierce and tireless,
who rend a great stag on a mountainside,
and feed on him, their jaws reddened with blood,
loping in a pack to drink springwater,
their chops a-drip with fresh blood, their hearts
unshaken ever, and their bellies glutted:
such were the Myrmidons and their officers,
running to form up round Akhilleus' brave

And like the god of war
among them was Akhilleus: he stood tall
and sped the chariots and shieldmen onward.
Even Fitzgerald is not quite right here. Ares is not properly "the god of war." He is rightly named: 'The god, War.'

1 comment:

Dad29 said...

The term 'cohort' comes to mind.