Where I have failed to appreciate some of the most enduringly esteemed works of literature, it has often been due to falling flat on my face in terms of the translation I happened to pick up. I’ve learned not to dismiss a work I read in translation if it has been widely regarded for many centuries as being wonderful, yet leaves me bewildered or bored. Translation is transmission and, like power lines, a lot can get lost en route from a language you don’t know to one you do.
‘The first rule is that the versions have to live, to hold the reader, as contemporary poems, not museum pieces.’
See also the quote-mosaic review of Harry Eyres’ splendid book on the charm and continuing relevance of Horace.
Source: Harry Eyres, Horace and Me: Life Lessons from an Ancient Poet (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013), p. xi