doesn’t much matter what happens tonhim. We shall not blame him for hisnlively lines any more than we blamenthe Tiger Swallowtail for its vivid colors,nbut we can treat him, in allnjustice, pretty much as we wish.nBut if literature is a force in civilization,nif it does have influence upon thenway we think and behave, then thenwriter has grave responsibilities. Onenof them is to tell the truth as he knowsnit: “The point is the general truth thatnpoets sing / always of love and death,nhow one answers the other, / how eachnimplies and even demands the other.”nYet simple description cannot be thenend of his duties. Is he not constrainednto render some account of the virtuesnand to paint them in attractive fashion?nMust he not expose the luridnblandishments of the vices? Being responsible,nhe should answer to thesencauses.nBut it is his sense of responsibility,nrather than his irresponsibility, whichnis more likely to make the writer annenemy, or at least an irritant, of thenstate. His ideas of vice and virtue, ofnevil and of good, may not coincidenwith the ideas of the state. The truthnhe tries to depict dispassionately maynbe viewed by the state as indecent orninflammatory. Once the writer seesnthat it is his responsible thought whichnwill be condemned and censored, henknows at once that every official pro­n’When Soft Voices Die . . . ‘nIn our attempt to appreciate Greekncivilization, moderns are in roughlynthe same position as a deaf man atnBayreuth. We can admire the settingnand costumes, follow the text,nbut we cannot hear the music. Nonpeople in history has ever beennmore musical than the Greeks. Thenlyric poems of Sappho and Pindarnwere actually songs, and a large partnof Greek drama consisted of songand-dancennumbers.nMost of what we know aboutnGreek music comes from twonsources: hopelessly obscure writersnon music theory (some of whomndon’t appear to know what they’rentalking about) and a few highlyngram of morality is a cynical hypocrisy.nIt is a nice irony that the Latin tagnwe use to question the standards ofnthose who would make our publicnstandards—Quis custodiet?—is takennfrom the Art of Love, where the loyaltynof the wife’s guardians to her apprehensivenspouse is called in doubt.nAlmost haplessly, Ovid puts his fingernon the problem. Even the bestnintentioned program for public moralityndeceives itself about history andnabout human nature. No popular impulsenfor overwhelming moral reformnwill make any difference. “The humanncondition doesn’t change. The civisnRomanus I is not a new and differentnorder of man, / but the same old item,nluckier, better governed, / a litfle morenpowerful, but begotten / the same oldnway. And we die just like anyonenelse.”nThe poet who subscribes to an officialnmorality subscribes to a mercurialnparty line. Today George Eliot is cynosure,nyesterday she was anathema. Yesterday,nSt. Francis was canonized,ntoday he is banned—or so Chesterton’snbiography reports. The worksnmost often censored in the Englishspeakingnworld are the Bible andnShakespeare. New and virid curriculanarise from the ashes of Dietrich BonhoeflFernand Giordano Bruno.nThere is a certain lack of imaginationnon both sides. The writer cannREVISIONSninteresting passages in the poets andnphilosophers. Even trained Hellenistsnare at sea with most of thentechnical jargon—which explainsnwhy so much poor scholarship hasnbeen perpetrated in the name ofnmusicology and why a few greatnnames like Winnington-Ingramnshine like beacons across a fogboundnharbor. For all these reasonsnand more, Andrew Barker is to benpraised for his courage and hardnwork in putting out a translation ofnmajor musical texts, Greek MusicalnWritings: I, The Musician and HisnArt (Gambridge, UK: GambridgenUniversity Press, 1984).nBarker’s first volume is a collectionnof very informative passages onnthe art and performance of music.nnndepict no evils which have not alreadynbeen committed times without number,nand he cannot condone themnwithout looking as ridiculous as, say,nthe Marquis de Sade. He can onlyncondemn them in as powerfully dramaticna fashion as possible. The moralistnwho- is shocked by an artist’sndepiction of immorality is too naive tonbe trusted; he is like a priest who hasnnever heard of sodomy. And the hypocrisynis always transparent: MartialnXI. 20 preserves an epigram by Augustusnwhich is more obscene than anythingnremaining to us from Ovid. Ancensor censors, finally, only his ownnreactions.nDavid Slavitt’s usual practice as antranslator is a loose and breezy one,nand it does very well for the Tristia,nwhich is often a redundant and selfpityingnwork. Slavitt labors to keep thentone light. He does not depart from thentext so radically as in his intoxicatedn(and intoxicating) version of Vergil’snEclogues, but he does offer some omissionnand compression in order to servenup a less weepy English than some ofnthe poems deserve. There are lapses.n”My love, fare, as I do not here, well”ncomes out auditorily as “My love fairnas I do not hear well.” But the lapsesnare few; Slavitt’s version is easy andnwitty and as solid as need be. For manynreasons it is most welcome now.nWhile most of the passages are familiarnto scholars interested in ancientnmusic, there are great advantagesnin having them all togethernwith a uniform terminology andnuseful cross-referenced notes. Onenmight have wished for a fuller bibliographyn(his otherwise careful appendixnon the nomos ignores morenthan one valuable article), butnsome of the omissions will no doubtnbe made up in later volumes.nWe shall never be able to hearnGreek music, but with Barker innhand, even a Greekless reader maynget some idea of what it meant tonthe performers and audiences in thenvery good old days.nMARCH 1987 / 25n