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by Apollonius Rhodius, Trans. By R. C. Seaton
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From Library Journal
While Apollonios's long verse romance was originally scorned, it has grown in stature and remains the fullest account of the story of Jason, Medea, and the quest for the golden fleece and the only surviving epic of the Hellenistic period. This new translation joins that of F.V. Rieu (Penguin, 1959). Green (classics, Univ. of Texas), the author of a number of books on Alexander the Great and Hellenistic culture, as well as The Laughter of Aphrodite (Univ. of California, 1993), a novel about Sappho, translates Apollonios's Greek into fluent English verse while preserving his stateliness. The cloth version includes comprehensive notes and commentary. Green's efforts represent both fine literature and scholarship, making this book appropriate for public and academic libraries.?Thomas L. Cooksey, Armstrong State Coll., Savannah, Ga.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The ARGONAUTIKA concerns the quest for the Golden Fleece. Of uneven artistic merit, it nonetheless broke new literary ground in the third century B.C. and influenced subsequent poets. Many listeners will find the material demanding, and enjoyment will be largely dependent upon their familiarity with Greek antiquity. Scholar Peter Green has composed the very speakable verse translation, smoothly abridged in this audio. British actress Juliet Stevenson reads with affectionate intimacy, as to an armchair companion. Unfortunately, she's only fitfully engaged and often insensitive to mood and atmosphere. Her cadences generally flat, sometimes faking her way through difficult passages, she's best when delivering impassioned speeches. This production is not for the casual listener. Y.R. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine
The Argonautika, the only surviving epic of the Hellenistic era, is a retelling of the tale of Jason and the Golden Fleece, probably the oldest extant Greek myth. Jason, a young prince, is sent on a perilous expedition but comes through various ordeals with the aid of the king's daughter, Medeia, winning the golden fleece and carrying off Medeia herself. He is a very modern figure, not at all Achillean: almost an anti-hero. Along the way, the story incorporates vivid accounts of early exploration and colonizing ventures. Peter Green's lively, readable verse translation captures the swift narrative movement of Apollonios's epic Greek.
Apollonios Rhodios (c. 305-235 B.C.), the author of the Argonautika, was appointed Chief Librarian in the legendary library at Alexandria around 265 B.C. His first draft of this poem, composed when he was a very young man, drew scornful reactions from the literati of the day, Kallimachos in particular, who thought epic passé and long poems vulgar. Apollonios withdrew to the maritime island of Rhodes (his work is notable for its nautical expertise), where he hammered out the text as we know it today, returning to eventual success in the city that had rejected him. The compromise that resulted is a fascinating combination of age-old myth and modern treatment that produces a gripping and unforgettable narrative. Peter Green has translated this renowned poem with skill and wit, offering a refreshing interpretation of a timeless story.
The cloth edition of the Argonautika includes Peter Green's lively and incisive commentary, the first on all four books since Mooney's in 1912. While clarifying text and background, the commentary takes full advantage throughout of the recent upsurge of scholarly interest in Apollonios.
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Greek
From the Back Cover
"A smooth-running and highly readable verse translation of Apollonios's epic tale of the voyage of the Argonauts from the pen of a writer whose elegant verse translations of Ovid's Erotic Poems and Juvenal's Satires have long been justly admired by scholars and the general public alike. The introduction, written with Green's customary verve and wit, locates Apollonios in his Alexandrian world and proposes a new understanding of his poetic purpose and achievement. But that is not all. The translation is followed by a detailed commentary that explains difficulties and mythical allusions. The commentary will be helpful for Greek-less readers, but it will also command the attention of scholars. Though there are many commentaries available for the third book of the poem, there is nothing else in print in English that covers all four. Peter Green's Argonautika is, quite simply, invaluable." (Bernard Knox, author of Backing into the Future)
About the Author
Peter Green is Dougherty Centennial Professor of Classics at the University of Texas, Austin. His other books available from California include Alexander to Actium: The Historical Evolution of the Hellenistic Age (1990), Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C.: A Historical Biography (1991), The Laughter of Aphrodite: A Novel about Sappho of Lesbos (1993), and The Greco-Persian Wars (1996).
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