Sunday, May 19, 2024

Pantheon Poets

In Britain, only a small proportion of people born since 1960 know any Latin. But, for many, many European authors who have written between the dark ages and the middle of the twentieth century, education meant the classics, and they were often influenced as much or more by Latin poets as by writers in their own languages.

If you are interested in English and other modern European literature, Pantheon Poets tries to offer you a more authentic glimpse into this long and influential Latin tradition than just reading modern translations can provide. Pantheon Poets is of course also aimed at anybody who already knows Latin and enjoys the sound of it read aloud. The site has a wide selection of poetry by Catullus, Horace, Ovid, Virgil, Propertius and others, with pieces also by their Greek predecessors, and new poems and poets are added from time to time.

Latin poems and extracts from longer ones are shown in the original, with an English translation. There is also a very short introduction to each poem, aimed at the general reader and avoiding linguistic and technical complexities of the kind that specialists focus on.

We also provide a sound file of each poem. This oral presentation is an important part of our approach. It is in keeping with how Romans themselves would have experienced poetry: it was commonly read aloud by skilled performers, and Roman books were unpunctuated and much harder to read by yourself than modern ones. If you would like to know more about where the approach that we take to pronunciation comes from, you can link to a note on it here.

English and Latin work in radically different ways, so the translations aim to stay fairly close to the Latin but without doing as much violence to good English as brutishly literal ones would. They are not meant to be poetry themselves.

I am a classics graduate who has pursued an interest in Latin poetry over many years, but I am not a professional teacher or academic. So please bear in mind that although I am a serious student, I am not infallible.

As well as Latin poems, I post more recent poems that I particularly like from other times in English and sometimes in German and French with a translation, and I hope you enjoy those too: many, but not all, are chosen as examples of how Latin poetry has influenced European literature over the centuries.

I hope you enjoy Pantheon Poets.

Marcus Agrippa

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