“He was a quiet man, diligent and decorous, yet one who was unexpectedly equal to the swagger and savagery of Homer’s ‘Iliad’ and ‘Odyssey’ in a way no one had managed before him,” – Princeton humanities professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon
Robert Fagles’ contribution to translations of Greek and Roman classic literature and poetry can’t be understated. His translations of Homer sold over 4 million copies worldwide, and helped re-introduce the greatness of pre-Christian epic poetry to a new generation.
“Homer gave me new modes of expression, but I wanted to capture as much of him as I could, making him available and, with luck, compelling to a modern audience. I set the same task for myself when I translated Aeschylus and Sophocles.”
His most recent translation was Virgil’s Aeneid, released in 2006, a project he wasn’t sure he would be able to finish due to his cancer. When released, Fagles called it “unexpectedly timely and relevant”.
“It says that if you depart from the civilized, then you become a murderer … The price of empire is very steep, but Virgil shows how it is to be earned, if it’s to be earned at all. The poem can be read as an exhortation for us to behave ourselves, which is a horse of relevance that ought to be ridden.”
For any Pagan who has taken inspiration from the classics, Fagles performed a great service. May his virtuous soul find rest and joy on the Elysian fields.