Top positive review
16 people found this helpful
Congenial translation of Sappho
on 28 October 2012
I think this is the best translation of Sappho that has been published in English during my life-time (born 1934). - English cannot, like Swedish, imitate metrically the Sapphic verse. Poochigian, however, invents other means of rendering Sappho, above all a faithful rendering of what is in the Greek original. Example from fragment 16: "Some call ships, infantry or horsemen/The greatest beauty earth can offer;/I say it is whatever a person/Most lusts after." His commentary on "lusts after" (eratai) is most convincing. erao means " to desire" not just " to love". It is also amazing what he can get out of a single Sappho line (page 86, fragment 147 Voigt): I declare/That later on,/Even in an age unlike our own,/Someone will remember who we are.". Particularly "Even in age unlike our own" is bold but makes sense to me, considering the few Greek letters that have been left to us on the papyrus.
The introduction is very good. Poochigian seems to master scholarship on Sappho, even into the smallest details. His evaluations show a good balance ( on difficult topics like "sexual fulfillment", "Sappho's'school", "archaic paideia" etc.).
The idea of having a separate commentary on every fragment on the opposing side of the translation functions also very well.
I wish though that he had chosen the Loeb volume by Campbell (good prose translations!) for the numbering of the poems instead of Voigt's edition which is not easily available.
You could call Poochigian's translations prose translations (like Campbell's) but, and this is an important but, they read more like real poetry.
Summa summarum: this slim Penguin volume is a veritable Glücksfund (a hermaion, to use Greek).
Oct 28the 2012