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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In defence of Green
I feel that I must leap heroically to the defence of Peter Green. I confess my Latin is far from adequate, but having done some comparison of a few of these translations against those in The Poems of Catullus (Oxford World Classics) and Catullus - The Poems Translated (Penguin Classics), I find this current work's translations both more readable in themselves and also...
Published on 28 Nov. 2012 by E. L. Wisty

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Vanity publishing
[added 1/9/14. I may delete this review. Its biggest problem is that I forgot to review Green's commentary to Catullus, and this is potentially the most important part of the book, so beware! I can't remember anything about it]

2.5 stars. A fair amount depends on whether you have Latin or not, and how much you have.

I first drafted this review after...
Published on 15 July 2010 by Fuficius Fango


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Vanity publishing, 15 July 2010
This review is from: Poems of Catullus: A Bilingual Edition (Paperback)
[added 1/9/14. I may delete this review. Its biggest problem is that I forgot to review Green's commentary to Catullus, and this is potentially the most important part of the book, so beware! I can't remember anything about it]

2.5 stars. A fair amount depends on whether you have Latin or not, and how much you have.

I first drafted this review after reading poems 61-68. Since then I've read the rest and downgraded my opinion of Green slightly. Apologies if there is any incoherence.

Green's book seems like a fresh and unembarrassed view, but the problem is, once he has supplied us with his text and his translation (more on this later), there's not much room for commentary, and so what there is tends to be very sketchy, especially when we get to the serious poems (61-68). Also Green irritates me by making random and (to me) unprecedented changes to the Latin text. I have had to buy copies of Goold and Thomson now to keep track of Green's modus operandi. So my initial feeling is one of disappointment, and I'm not sure whether there is really anything insightful and new in this book. Easily available, affordable books on Catullus aren't legion, so completism is a good enough reason to buy this one, and it is cheap. On the other hand, every time I de-clutter, this book will be near the top of my least wanted list.

But the more I read of Green, the more I dislike him - the introduction seems excellent, but he warns that a translator should retain hints of the alienness of Catullus and not provide his audience with familiar commonplaces. The problem is, the translations are simply riddled with teen American slang (although Green is 80 years old). Poem 16 is a good enough example. Catullus is effectively saying, with cheeky irony, "What, you accuse me of being unmanly? Just come here and bend over, and you'll find out how manly I am!" Green reduces this to "up yours both and sucks to the pair of you!" losing all of the irony. This is because, in wanting to avoid the specificity of J.N.Adams' explanations of the words paedico and irrumo, Green has basically thrown the baby out with the bath water, when he should have been considering all of Catullus's other uses of the word irrumo/irrumator. Green combines American slang ("icky", "hotshots", "sucks to you", "big daddy", "hang tough") with retained archaisms and metri gratia things such as "t'other", so that it's all a bit of a dog's dinner of styles. Sometimes he doesn't see the simple solutions: "crafty crepitations" (among all those Americanisms?) is not as close to Catullus as "furtive farts".

Ultimately - Green is careful in the otherwise excellent introduction to tell us how extensively he has studied the Romantic poets' experiments with metre - this book is about Green's fond imaginings that he's a great poet and a great translator; he's neither - this book is little more than just a vanity publication.

If you have no Latin, I think you are probably better off with Goold's Duckworth edition (for the general flavour), but it's not clear-cut: in general, Goold is better quality but he still retains some of the old-fashioned embarrassment, e.g. poem 59 (where he translates "fellat" as "puts her lips to", duh!). Maybe there are Penguin editions out there for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An energetic though loose and coy translation, 30 Nov. 2012
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Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Poems of Catullus: A Bilingual Edition (Paperback)
Like Green's other Latin poetic translations (e.g. The Erotic Poems), this keeps to the general spirit of the originals, but definitely not the letter. So if you want an energetic, sometimes quite brisk and very American rendering of the sense of Catullus into English, then this may well work for you. If, however, you want a literal or nuanced translation of the Latin words, then this is sometimes very loose.

For example, the programmatic opening poem starts `qui dono lepidum novum libellum', literally `to whom do I give this charming new little book' - Green turns this into `who's the dedicatee of my new witty booklet', erasing the active `dono, I give' and introducing a `dedicatee' which is not in the Latin original. `Booklet', too, for `libellum' turns the characteristic Catullan use of diminutives into something vaguely comic as the idea of a booklet or pamphlet for modern readers is something quite different from a slim volume (or slender roll) of Roman verse.

Catullus isn't particularly well served by translators: Whigham (The Poems) is also very loose, as is, to a lesser extent, Lee (The Poems of Catullus); the Loeb (Catullus) is the most accurate to the Latin but puts the English into prose. Green and Lee do impart some sense of the poetic quality of Catullus, and it's helpful of Green to indicate metre against the Latin. Green is, however, apparently embarrassed by the famous obscenity and sexual invective of Catullus and renders the specificity of Catullan sexual insults (pedicabo, irrumabo, glubit) into nice, neutral American-ese.

For readers with no Latin, Lee's translations (and that text, too, is 'bilingual' i.e. includes the Latin) are probably better than Green overall for what I see as greater sensitivity to the nuances of the original. But Green's edition has more material on context and some poetic commentary which may be useful for undergraduates and general interested readers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In defence of Green, 28 Nov. 2012
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E. L. Wisty "World Domination League" (Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Poems of Catullus: A Bilingual Edition (Paperback)
I feel that I must leap heroically to the defence of Peter Green. I confess my Latin is far from adequate, but having done some comparison of a few of these translations against those in The Poems of Catullus (Oxford World Classics) and Catullus - The Poems Translated (Penguin Classics), I find this current work's translations both more readable in themselves and also closer in meaning to the originals as far as I understand them. To me, there is no argument - this is the edition to get.
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Poems of Catullus: A Bilingual Edition
Poems of Catullus: A Bilingual Edition by Gaius Valerius Catullus (Paperback - 20 July 2007)
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