02 December 2010

Appendix to Part I: Blind Prophets

This is an appendix to the previous post. See also: Part II.

In research for the previous post, I came across this 1885 translation of Oedipus the King by E. D. A. Morshead. (As an aside, his Wikipedia entry is rather amusing.) The translation holds a strict meter, which I find infinitely preferable to the overly Americanized Fagles translation that is so common.

Walter Kaufmann's translation of the epigram (see image above) from Goethe:
Experience it deep in your mind,
As with a curse I now descend!
The human being is, his life long, blind;
Thus, Faustus, you shall meet your end.

Max Ernst, Oedipus Rex, 1922 (click for larger image).
Exhibit A:
Alack, alack, how deadly to be wise
Where wisdom profits not!
Exhibit B:
Thou, foster-child of timeless night, nor me
Nor any man who sees the sun canst harm.
(This in particular shows the inferiority of Fagles, who has: "Blind, / lost in the night, endless night that nursed you! / You can't hurt me or anyone else who sees the light-- / you can never touch me.")

Exhibit C:
A gale of seeming fortune sped thee on
But to a hell for harbour.

Two images of Homer, another blind prophet:

William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Homer and his Guide, 1874. Someone has paired this painting with a musical piece from The Thin Red Line: click here. (Also a larger version of the painting on that site.)

The idea that Homer was blind may have something to do with the similarity of the name to the word homeros, which meant "blind" in some ancient dialects.

Click for larger image. Photo source unknown.