Claudio was born in London, and grew up between there and his family’s hometown, Rome. He moved to Dublin to read English Studies at Trinity, where he met David. They worked together on the founding of the Trinity Journal of Literary Translation, and Claudio learned to box from David. Since graduating, Claudio has moved to Chicago to begin work towards his PhD in Comparative Literature. Currently, his main areas of interest are the reception and influence of classical literature in the twentieth-century, and comparative hermeneutics. He hopes to write his PhD on literature that appears perennially out-of-place in history, and that finds its home in different historical moments, where its strange beauty may become uneasily appreciated. He has just taken up boxing again, after a brief hiatus, and is desperately trying to remember all the lessons he learned in Dublin.
The ancient Greek corpus contains a not insubstantial body of literature describing and depicting many different types of boxing and wrestling encounters. Perhaps the most famous of these are the duels held in honor of Patroclus’s death, as Homer presents them in the Iliad (eighth century B.C.E.). When I was choosing a text to translate for David Scott, however, I could not resist attempting a verse rendering of the boxing match from Apollonius of Rhodes’s Argonautica (third century B.C.E.).
Apollonius’s unconventional epic, that mocks the ‘high’ values of tradition, finds in this representation a stylistic condensation of its narrative strategy. The heroic Pollux (here Polydikes) answers Amycus’s challenge with a humane brand of courage, filled with a confidence and slyness that would have been out of place in Homer, but that, as a result, fits the romanticized space of a boxing ring – as it exists in the modern imagination – all the more aptly. Heroic values are subverted and replaced with an immanent coolness, and a feud-like atmosphere develops the characters, psychologically, into a new literary type – one that is brave, rascal-like and stoic – charged (to use a loaded phrase) with an all too human energy.