What Is a Good "Daedalus and Icarus" Translation?


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American poet Charles Martin published a critically acclaimed verse translation of Ovid's "Metamorphoses," the larger work containing the myth of Daedalus and Icarus, in 2004. "Metamorphoses" is a collection of myths, all sharing the theme of transformation. It contains the story of Daedalus and Icarus, in which Daedalus attempts to build wings for himself and his son so that they may fly.

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Critics praise Charles Martin for his fast-paced, readable work. Martin has used iambic pentameter verse and modern English to translate Ovid's Latin. Ovid is known for his detailed, vivid descriptions of his characters' physical transformations. This is one reason Ovid's work has inspired so many other writers, as well as artists.

Martin, as an accomplished poet, has been successful in translating such passages. In "Expansive Poetry Online," critic Edward Zuk points to the expressive language Martin uses in the passages in which Daedalus fashions artificial wings. The Academy of American Poets awarded Martin the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award. There are many other translations of Ovid's "Metamorphoses" available. Arthur Golding published the first English translation of the work in 1567. This version influenced many English writers, including Shakespeare. There are also many recent translations in print, including a volume by David Raeburn for Penguin.

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