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Disappointed in the translation
on January 18, 2014
This edition came highly praised, particularly by Robert Fagles, whose translations of the Iliad and the Odyssey are, in my opinion, the best in the English language. But the review here is for Charles Martin's translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses. It is one thing to translate into prose, the vernacular, but into vulgarisms and slang, is another. Without going page by page, citing numerous examples, I decided enough is enough in Book V at page 160, where the text reads that after Perseus threw a spear at Phineus, missing him but hitting Rhoetus "full in the face", that, "the crowd went totally ballistic." Yes, that is exactly as written..."the crowd went totally ballistic." I found that phrase totally amazing, and went, like, totally, like, gag me with a spoon. Actually, the phrase "going totally ballistic" is similar to "gag me with a spoon" in that a few years from now it will have fallen out of fashion and will sound just as silly and out of place. Certainly the reader of today knows what Mr. Martin means by a "crowd going totally ballistic," but the reader also knows of other and better ways of expressing it in modern English without resorting to the slang of the day. Why, if Mr. Martin had worked on this translation a few decades or so ago he may have written this phrase as "the crowd went completely Postal." If you're over 50 you'll get it.