Which translation of Homer's The Iliad did Pope use to write his parody of it, The Rape of the Lock?In The Rape of the Lock the language of the epics was parodied. But was it the language of any...

Which translation of Homer's The Iliad did Pope use to write his parody of it, The Rape of the Lock?

In The Rape of the Lock the language of the epics was parodied. But was it the language of any particular translation?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Alexander Pope was a well educated and learned Englishman who was, like his fellow Englishmen, well versed in Greek and Latin. Though crippled by spinal disfigurement due to childhood tuberculosis, Pope made his living by translations and writing poetry. In 1713, Pope began his own translation of Homer's The Iliad. The one English translation of The Iliad that is uniformly noted by historians is George Chapman's translation (Keats later praises "Chapman's Homer" in the lyric sonnet "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer"). It is also said of Pope that an early play in his juvenilia was based on Homer's The Iliad.

Since Pope was a fluent reader of Greek and of Homer, and since he was familiar with Homer's work from his childhood, and since he comments on Chapman's translation in the Preface to the 1715 publication of the first four books of his own translation of The Iliad (the project was completed in 1720), and since it seems necessary to conclude that Pope worked from the Greek on his own translation, it also seems necessary to conclude that Pope worked from and drew upon his knowledge of the original Greek text of The Iliad for his parody of it in The Rape of the Lock (1712).

[For more information on Pope and to read his 1715 Preface to The Iliad, see PoetryFoundation.org, Preface to The Iliad of Homer (1715) by Alexamder Pope.]

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Devolving English Literature

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