So part of my poetic project this year is to read Virgil's Aeneid
nine times. Nine different translations: Ahl, Day Lewis, Dickinson, Dryden, Fagles, Fitzgerald, Mandelbaum, Oakley, and Ruden. (Blame Mark Scroggins: http://kulturindustrie.blogspot.com/2010/11/my-vergil-problem.html
Actually, I thank him for the inspiration.) One a month for nine months. There are lines and phrases I've underlined in each of the nine different translations and as I read every one in turn, I underline more, particular to each. I'm reading Fitzgerald's translation currently with an eye toward passages expressing disappointment and discontentment (I'm provisionally saving all the weeping and all the lion skins for later segments). And I came across the great line (III.692) "Anchises shouted 'Italy!'" which might be the saddest in The Aeneid
. Anchises is the hero Aeneas's father, rescued from the destruction of Troy at the hands of the Greeks, and although he is the first to spy Italian soil, he dies before the Trojans can land there or found their city. There is great joy at the sighting of Italy, but it is a false hope (The Aeneid
is a tissue of false hopes) as Aeneas and his crew are completely unaware of how much misery and bloodshed they will have to endure before Virgil lets them rest. But here's the thing: Fitzgerald is the only translator to attribute this shout to Anchises. Ahl, Day Lewis, Dickinson, Dryden, Fagles, Mandelbaum, Oakley, Ruden, even Billson, attribute that shout to Achates, Aeneas's close and faithful friend. Is this a typo or an interpretation? A note might explain, but Fitzgerald has no notes.
I've gone to the Latin (III.523) and found: "Italiam primus conclamat Achates" ("Italy!" Achates was first to cry out). Fitzgerald is wrong.