Opening lines from Homer’s Iliad

by Pope

Here is the opening of the Iliad, translated by the Georgian poet and wit, Alexander Pope. Compare and contrast with the Greek original, and with the translation of the opening of the Odyssey by Pope’s 15th-16th century predecessor, George Chapman.

The wrath of Peleus’ son, the direful spring
Of all the Grecian woes, O Goddess, sing!
That wrath which hurled to Pluto’s gloomy reign
The souls of mighty chiefs untimely slain,
Whose limbs, unburied on the naked shore,
Devouring dogs and hungry vultures tore:
Since great Achilles and Atrides strove,
Such was the sovereign doom, and such the will of Jove!
⁠Declare, O Muse! in what ill-fated hour
Sprung the fierce strife, from what offended Power?
Latona’s son a dire contagion spread,
And heaped the camp with mountains of the dead;
The king of men his reverend priest defied,
And, for the king’s offence, the people died.
⁠For Chryses sought with costly gifts to gain
His captive daughter from the victor’s chain.
Suppliant the venerable father stands;
Apollo’s awful ensigns grace his hands:
By these he begs: and, lowly bending down,
Extends the sceptre and the laurel crown.
He sued to all, but chief implored for grace
The brother-kings of Atreus’ royal race:
⁠”Ye kings and warriors! may your vows be crowned,
And Troy’s proud walls lie level with the ground;
May Jove restore you, when your toils are o’er,
Safe to the pleasures of your native shore.
But oh! relieve a wretched parent’s pain,
And give Chryseïs to these arms again;
If mercy fail, yet let my presents move,
And dread avenging Phœbus, son of Jove.”