Adams Papers



Mr. and Mrs. Allen, came over and dined here. They carried away my Cousin with them. She purposes spending a week at Bradford.

Finished the second Book of the Iliad, the latter part of which is a tedious enumeration of the Ships, which might I think as well have been omitted. Pope’s Translation of this, is surely an excellent Poem; but the Ideas, are often very different. There is indeed a simplicity in some Passages of Homer, which in a modern language would be ridiculous. At the description of a Sacrifice and an Entertainment Homer says, of the victim, they knock’d out its brains, cut its throat, and thrust a spit through it. How different from this, Pope’s paraphrase is, may be seen in his Iliad II. verse 202 &c.1 There are few of this Poet’s original Pieces, in which it is not as plain to see imitation, as in the Homer.

1JQA wrote 202 for 502:

Their Pray’rs perform’d, the chiefs the rite pursue,

The barley sprinkled, and the victim slew.

The limbs they sever from th’inclosing hyde,

The thighs, selected to the Gods, divide.

On these, in double cauls involv’d with art,

The choicest morsels lie from ev’ry part.

From the cleft wood the crackling flames aspire,

While the fat victims feed the sacred fire.

The thighs thus sacrific’d, and entrails drest,

Th’assistants part, transfix, and roast the rest.

(The Iliad of Homer, transl. Alexander Pope, 4 vols., London, 1759, 1:99; this edition, in JA’s Library at MB, contains JQA’s earliest bookplate, which is inscribed with the date 1781).

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