Jason and the Argonauts, but BETTER

So today I’m gonna do something a little different
like, instead of telling you a book
I am going to tell you ABOUT a book
which I will then expect you to READ.
This book is called Jason and the Argonauts
and it was written by Apollonius of Rhodes
(although when he wrote it it was called the Argonautica)
and it is a story about a boat full of jerks
sailing around and stealing things.
I did a run-down of it a while back if you’re interested.

But Apollonius wrote his book wrong
as in, not in English
so for many years now
dudes have been trying to fix his mistake
with varying degrees of success.

this dude JUST CAME OUT with a new verse translation of this amazing book
like seriously, a week ago.COVER SO SWEET
But before he did that
he sent an advance copy to ME
to READ.
And at first I was like “Reading? What?”
but then I was like “HOLY SHIT
You see,
part of the reason I do what I do
is because most translations of ancient texts
like, they use archaic words
they demonstrate a great love of ancient Greek, but no love for English
and they’re generally just really hard and painful to try to understand
so I’ve tasked myself with making translations of the translations.

But get this:

His English is modern and playful
he does it all in solid iambic pentameter, basically to show off
he BOLDS ALL THE NAMES OF THE HEROES in the opening catalogue
just to make it easier to read, and because he’s a nice guy
and most importantly
he genuinely seems to LIKE this poem!

My copy has a bookmark on pretty much every page
because of some awesome line or hilarious image
but let me pick a page that I think perfectly illustrates Poochigian’s chops:
The beginning of Book 2

Okay, first let’s take a look at how R.C. Seaton translates this
in the Loeb Classics edition:

“Here were the oxstalls and farm of Amycus, the haughty king of the Bebrycians, whom once a nymph, Bithynian Melie, united to Poseidon Genethlius, bare the most arrogant of men; for even for strangers he laid down an insulting ordinance, that none should depart till they had made trial of him in boxing; and he had slain many of the neighbours.”

Okay, that’s fine, that’s fine.
Good effort, R.C.
But let’s see how my man A.P. does it:

“Haughty Amycus, the Bebrycian king,
Kept farms and cattle paddocks near the shore.
Begotten by Poseidon Patriarch
on a Bithynian Nymph named Melia,
he was the most obnoxious man alive.
It was his savage custom to permit
no visitors to exit his dominions
until they met him in a boxing match,
and he had beaten many of his neighbors
to death.”

See, Poochigian’s gift
is that he knows when to deviate from a word-for-word translation
in order to give you the SENSE of the original poem.
The result is something that sounds like Apollonius’s actual voice
time-warped into the present day.
Obviously I am a fan of this.

So if you skipped reading this book in college
or you’re a college professor trying to keep your students from skipping this book
I highly recommend this translation
and not just because A-dogg sent me a free copy.
Let me put it in his words, from the translator’s introduction:

“For as long as I have known the Ancient Greek language, I have been certain that Apollonius is a great poet, and that Jason and the Argonauts is a great epic. This translation, a labor of love, is an attempt to convince Greekless readers that this is true.”

He sure as hell convinced me.
I think you should give him a chance to convince you.

In case you missed it, here’s the link to the amazon page for the book again.
You don’t have to buy it on Amazon, but it’s better than not buying it at all.

2 thoughts on “Jason and the Argonauts, but BETTER

  1. The story of an entire frat setting sail in pursuit of the world’s fanciest coat, retold in modern vernacular? No one could deserve my money more!

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