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Pure Pagan: Seven Centuries of Greek Poems and Fragments

Raffel, Buton, Ed.

80 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0679642978 / ISBN 13: 9780679642978
Published by Modern Library, New York, New York, U.S.A., 2004
Condition: Fine Hardcover
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About this Item

First Modern Library printing. With an Introduction by Guy Davenport. Gray cloth, gilt titles and ML logo to front and spine. Bernhard endsheets. A collection of poems described as 'pagan' because, according to the Introduction, they grew out of a pastoral experience. Many of the poets lived during the period of 300-500 B.C. A near fine, unread copy in like DJ with light aging at edges. 81 pp. Bookseller Inventory # 12793

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Pure Pagan: Seven Centuries of Greek Poems ...

Publisher: Modern Library, New York, New York, U.S.A.

Publication Date: 2004

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Edition: 1st Edition.

About this title

Synopsis:

“For there is indeed something we can call the spirit of ancient Greece–a carefully tuned voice that speaks out of the grave with astonishing clarity and grace , a distinctive voice that, taken as a whole, is like no other voice that has ever sung on this earth.”
BURTON RAFFEL, from his Preface

For centuries, the poetry of Homer, Aristophanes, Sophocles, Sappho, and Archilochus has served as one of our primary means of connecting with the wholly vanished world of ancient Greece. But the works of numerous other great and prolific poets–Alkaios, Meleager, and Simonides, to name a few–are rarely translated into English , and are largely unknown to modern readers. In Pure Pagan, award-winning translator Burton Raffel brings these and many other wise and witty ancient Greek writers to an English-speaking audience for the first time, in full poetic flower. Their humorous and philosophical ruminations create a vivid portrait of everyday life in ancient Greece –and they are phenomenally lovely as well.

In short, sharp bursts of song, these two-thousand-year-old poems speak about the timeless matters of everyday life:
Wine (Wine is the medicine / To call for, the best medicine / To drink deep, deep)
History (Not us: no. / It began with our fathers, / I’ve heard).
Movers and shakers (If a man shakes loose stones / To make a wall with / Stones may fall on his head / Instead)
Old age (Old age is a debt we like to be owed / Not one we like to collect)
Frankness (Speak / As you please / And hear what can never / Please).
There are also wonderful epigrams (Take what you have while you have it: you’ll lose it soon enough. / A single summer turns a kid into a shaggy goat) and epitaphs (Here I lie, beneath this stone, the famous woman who untied her belt for only one man).

The entrancing beauty, humor, and piercing clarity of these poems will draw readers into the Greeks’ journeys to foreign lands, their bacchanalian parties and ferocious battles, as well as into the more intimate settings of their kitchens and bedrooms. The poetry of Pure Pagan reveals the ancient Greeks’ dreams, their sense of humor, sorrows, triumphs, and their most deeply held values, fleshing out our understanding of and appreciation for this fascinating civilization and its artistic legacy.

About the Author:

Burton Raffel was a translator, poet, and scholar whose major translations include The Canterbury Tales, BeowulfDon QuijoteThe Red and the Black, and Gargantua and Pantagruel. He also annotated several Shakespeare plays for Yale University Press. He was the distinguished professor emeritus of Arts and Humanities and emeritus professor of English at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette until 2003. He lived in Louisiana until his death in 2015.

Guy Davenport (1927–2005), a critic and fiction writer, is best known for two books of essays, The Geography of the Imagination and Every Force Evolves a Form. He published many collections of short stories and numerous translations of early Greek poets and playwrights. A professor of English at the University of Kentucky from 1964 to 1990, he was also a painter and illustrator.

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