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March 30, 2008 11:05 AM   Subscribe

ObitFilter: Robert Fagles. One of the few men to tackle translating The Iliad, The Odyssey, and The Aeneid, Robert Fagles has died. All of his translations were fast-paced, vibrant renderings that turned the classics once again into best-sellers.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll (30 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
O O -- two gold coins, so that Fagles can pay Charon to ferry him across the River Styx to enter Hades.
posted by ericb at 11:14 AM on March 30, 2008 [7 favorites]

I'm currently rereading his translation of the Illiad. It resonated with me in a way previous versions did not.

posted by black8 at 11:14 AM on March 30, 2008

I'm still gonna go with Lattimore, at least for The Odyssey, but I have loads of love for Fagles. He reminds me of what Burton Raffel did for Old English poetry. Not always the exact translation, but almost always the exact word.
posted by RavinDave at 11:17 AM on March 30, 2008

I hear that Homer has been waiting, rather impatiently, to have a word with him.
posted by bicyclefish at 11:18 AM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Tell me, O muse, of that ingenious hero who translated far and wide.
posted by greycap at 11:36 AM on March 30, 2008 [2 favorites]

gods beneath us, treat him kindly.
posted by Busithoth at 11:38 AM on March 30, 2008

I have read, studied and most importantly ENJOYED his translations, especially his translations of the the Three Theban Plays. Perhaps as much an artist as a scholar, as all translators need to be.
posted by Ted Maul at 11:39 AM on March 30, 2008

Damn. I'm sorry to hear that. It takes a brave man to take on the big ones in this day and age. And normally I wouldn't be so picky but since this is Fagles' party, for his sake could we fix the spelling of Iliad, Odyssey, and Aeneid in the title?
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 11:40 AM on March 30, 2008

posted by honest knave at 11:48 AM on March 30, 2008

This guy deserves more than a sole period (glad not to see any yet). My Fagles story? In the summer before 11th grade, I worked as a babysitter. To pass the time, I read the Iliad and the Oddysey. In the fall, we got our syllabi for History and English. The majority of the year was spent on, you guessed it. The best part was when my history teacher tried to catch me on the edition. I showed him my Fagles copy of the Iliad and he hushed up real quick.

I had a lot of fun doing independent study on other Greek classics that year.

"could we fix the spelling of Iliad, Odyssey, and Aeneid in the title?"

...And the tags.
posted by Eideteker at 11:58 AM on March 30, 2008

"By god, I'd rather slave on earth for another man --
some dirt-poor tenant farmer who scrapes to keep alive --
than rule down here over all the breathless dead."

posted by pyramid termite at 11:59 AM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

In time, Mr. Fagles, your Penelope will join you in Elysium.
posted by aheckler at 12:02 PM on March 30, 2008

Apologies for the misspellings, folks. It was first thing in the morning...perhaps a kindly editor will take pity on me. The irony is I had not only the links but one of his books in my hand as I typed.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 12:19 PM on March 30, 2008

Well, he had a good run of it. After I read his Odyssey and Iliad translations earlier this year, it was all I could talk about for like a month.

Let's get some Patroclus-ghost fatalism up in this piece, shall we?

Grim death,
that death assigned from the day that I was born
has spread its hateful jaws to take me down.

posted by Greg Nog at 12:20 PM on March 30, 2008

Fagles was a revelation after the Great Books translations of Samuel Butler.

"Wow, the Iliad isn't a turgid slog! Jesus, this is actually fun to read!"
posted by klangklangston at 12:35 PM on March 30, 2008


I met the man twice in my life; both times he was good-humored, patient and generous. A gentleman and a scholar who shall be sorely missed. Yet his translations will live on.

Then we are sent to Elysium's broad expanse,
a few of us even hold these fields of joy
till the long days, a cycle of time seen through,
cleanse our hard, inveterate stains and leave us clear
ethereal sense, the eternal breath of fire purged and pure.

posted by Bromius at 12:37 PM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Princeton University regularly flies large flags with its seal on them from various buildings on campus.

They were at half-staff yesterday.
posted by oaf at 1:09 PM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

His translations are the reason I love those stories. Like klang said, they're a revelation.

Washington Post article today. A 1997 interview with Fagles about his Odyssey translation.
posted by Tehanu at 1:23 PM on March 30, 2008

Hm, the second link should have been this.
posted by Tehanu at 1:27 PM on March 30, 2008

And his armor clattered upon him.
posted by cytherea at 1:43 PM on March 30, 2008

Thanks for posting this.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:45 PM on March 30, 2008

posted by eclectist at 1:55 PM on March 30, 2008

He had a lecture at my college, and read the passage on the death of Argos. People were wiping their eyes.

Ave atque vale.
posted by Countess Elena at 2:09 PM on March 30, 2008

And so the Trojans buried Hector breaker of horses.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:31 PM on March 30, 2008

posted by PlusDistance at 7:06 PM on March 30, 2008

He was the speaker my college class chose for our commencement in 1999. It was a really lovely speech, and he seemed really happy to have been invited.
posted by hydropsyche at 7:21 PM on March 30, 2008

We posted the obit over in the classics section of the bookshop yesterday. I'm a Fitzgerald guy myself, but nevertheless
posted by Kinbote at 8:42 PM on March 30, 2008

posted by kjs4 at 10:02 PM on March 30, 2008

When I reread the iliad for the first time I read Fagles. ( I read Lattimore first) I don't know if it was his translation or the fact that it wasn't required (less analysis) but I was much more aware of the violence.
posted by MNDZ at 12:36 AM on March 31, 2008

posted by MNDZ at 12:36 AM on March 31, 2008

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