Anyone looking for a literary endeavor for the times of social isolation finds in a novelty from the publisher 34 a challenge to match: it is an unprecedented translation of Iliad, made by the professor of Greek language and literature at Unicamp, Trajano Vieira. Familiar with the text for at least 40 years, and close to the translation that Haroldo de Campos launched at the beginning of the century, the professor himself decided to undertake the adventure. “Why translate it again? Because of the possibility of rereading it from another angle,” he explains in the preface.
The more than a thousand pages of the neat edition contain introductory notes, text on the translation and a postscript by Vieira, an essay by Simone Weil on the poem, excerpts from the critic, many never published in Brazil, a map, a summary of the songs and 39 pages of an index only of the names of the characters, a fundamental tool for reading.
From what little is known of Homer’s life, it is agreed that he was the first poet in the West, and the Iliad, in Homeric chronology, occurs before the Odyssey. Ten years into the Trojan War, the poem begins with Achilles, the greatest Greek hero, arguing with King Agamemnon because he feels unworthy. Achilles’ removal and return to war are the guiding thread of the poem of more than 15 thousand verses – also filled with side episodes, tours, descriptions of military apparatus, clashes and active participation of the Olympian gods and thousands of characters.
The impressive thing is that the narration never leaves the tracks, even when the corners (24) have a certain autonomy. “This is one of the genius traits of the author, who does not lose control of the internal coherence of a very extensive work, although it consists of a large number of peripheral episodes that gravitate around the nucleus: the effects of Achilles’ wrath and the expectation of his return “, he writes.
Some basic tips can help the lay reader to approach the text with less suspicion. But it is also important to make it clear that Homer’s stories are reproduced, adapted, copied and serve as inspiration for countless works of art and reach the pop universe with force: everyone remembers the Achilles by Brad Pitt in the film Troia (2004), there are songs by Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin on the subject, several video games go through the period, and it is no coincidence that the Iron Man artificial intelligence system is “Homer” in the original version. None of this serves to validate the Iliad, but perhaps it serves to say that the book is not a seven-headed bug.
“It is important to remember that Homer was contemporary with the introduction of the alphabet in Greece (8th century BC) and that he probably did not fix the Iliad in writing, in full”, explains Vieira. “In other words, both before and after Homer, the two poems attributed to him suffered a strong impact from oral dynamics. The use of fixed expressions indicates this practice.”
It is very common in the text to use patronymics, locative expressions and epithets to refer to the characters, and understanding this logic can be a key to a better understanding of the text. Achilles, for example, can also be Achilles, son of Peleus, son of Tethys, Pelida, Achilles fast feet, etc. Aphrodite is Cypress and Cypress. Agamemnon is Atrida. And so on.
“The epithets were studied with great originality by the Hellenist Milman Parry, in the first half of the 20th century”, comments Vieira. “Parry detects such a standardization in the use of Homeric formulas (especially those composed of name + epithet), which even proposes that the core of this poetry would not be exactly the words, but the formulas. In fact, the recurrence of these expressions is very high in the Iliad and Odyssey and reflects the practice of oral production and communication quite remote in Greece. “
About the translation, he explains: “The path that I try to adopt seeks to configure a parallel text, which aims to have its own existence. This type of work does not seek submissive mirroring, but the establishment of a dialogue with the original. In the case of Homer , I don’t think the automatic reproduction of epithets is mandatory. It is possible to make possible variations or omissions, when the result of a literal reproduction results in an unsatisfactory formulation in Portuguese. Odorico Mendes realized this very well, even reducing the number of verses of Homeric poems. Haroldo de Campos also avoids automatism in the version of fixed expressions in the Iliad “.
And what is Homer’s dialogue with the 21st century? “The relief of the heroic code of conduct, the role of friendship between heroes, the importance of hospitality in the Homeric universe suggest patterns of behavior that should not be disregarded by us.”
Translator: Trajano Vieira
Publisher: 34 (1,048 pages, R $ 129)
Carol Francischini trains on the balcony of her home