Robots in The Iliad

by John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1163 in honor of National Poetry Month)

Homer translation TRIM
These two translators achieved differently. Each in his own Introduction speaks for himself.  Garry Wills, “On Reading Pope’s Homer” New York Times Bk. Rev. 1 Jun 97 p. 22, reviewing Shankman’s 1996 ed’n, applauds Pope who “alone equals the original in its ceaseless pour of verbal music” (p. 22), comparing Lattimore, “the most literal of the modern verse translators” (p. 33) — no discredit for me the fan of Nabokov (1899-1977) but answering, as Allan Sherman put it on another occasion, “What can he do that I can’t?” (“Shticks of One and Half a Dozen of the Other” no. 4; My Son the Celebrity, 1963).  Homer’s Iliad three millennia ago (just when and how it was composed remain vexed questions) being human action complicated by Greek gods, this incidental moment of science fiction is striking.

4 thoughts on “Robots in The Iliad

  1. Hephaistos – 1st Science Fiction engineer/hero.

    Prometheus was heroic, but no engineer.

  2. Here’s Chapman’s translation, that so moved Keats

    Put on his coat, his sceptre took, and then went halting forth,

    Handmaids of gold attending him, resembling in all worth

    Living young damsels, fill’d with minds and wisdom, and were train’d

    In all immortal ministry, virtue and voice contain’d,

    375 And mov’d with voluntary pow’rs; and these still waited on

    Their fi’ry sov’reign, who (not apt to walk) sate near the throne

    Of fair-hair’d Thetis,

    Bk XVIII ll 371-377

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