Pharsalia : dramatic episodes of the civil wars / Lucan
The twelve Caesars / Suetonius.
In his translations of three major works from the Roman world, brought together in one volume for the first time, Robert Graves brings the myths, legends and history of the classical world vividly to life. His translations influenced a generation of readers, and writers, when they were first published in the 1950s. As Robert Cummings discusses in his introduction, Graves may sometimes override the strict demands of accuracy; his interpretations of, and responses to, his material may at times be idiosyncratic, but 'Whatever complaints are lodged against Graves' translations, he remains, after fifty years, eminently readable.' Graves himself recognised the translator's problem: 'how much is owed to the letter, and how much to the spirit'. It is the novelist's narrative virtuosity, his flair for catching a character's individual voice, and, above all, his endless curiosity about the world, that make these translations as memorably entertaining as they were to their original audience, as well as a revealing mirror to Graves' interest in myth in The White Goddess and his imaginative recreations of the classical world in "I, Claudius" and "Claudius the God". "The Golden Ass" is one of the essential works in European literature, a magical, entertaining, sometimes bawdy, adventure, to which Graves responds with exuberant delight. In contrast, Lucan's "Pharsalia" an account of the civil war between Julius Casear and Pompey, raises for Graves issues of the writer's moral responsibility, the rejection of rhetoric, that in his own time, he writes, had sent poets 'marching through the Waste Land' after the Great War. "The Twelve Caesars" exemplifies the writer's responsibility to the truthful record in its vivid accounts of the corruptions of arbitrary power. (source: Nielsen Book Data)