Wednesday, October 09, 2013


Sophocles, Ajax

These are some notes on the translation of Ajax in Sophocles, Ajax, Electra, Oedipus Tyrannus. Edited and Translated by Hugh Lloyd-Jones (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994), a volume in the Loeb Classical Library series.

928-932 (pp. 116-117):
                         τοῖά μοι
πάννυχα καὶ φαέθοντ᾽
ἀνεστέναζες ὠμόφρων
ἐχθοδόπ᾽ Ἀτρείδαις
οὐλίῳ σὺν πάθει.

Such were the words, hostile to the sons of Atreus, which in the dark and in the light you groaned forth with grievous suffering.
Ll-J doesn't translate ὠμόφρων (savage-minded) in line 930. Cf. Jebb's translation (emphasis added):
Such was the omen of those complainings which by night and day I heard thee utter in thy fierce mood, bitter against the Atreidae with a deadly passion.
1062-1069 (pp. 130-131):
ὧν οὕνεκ᾽ αὐτὸν οὔτις ἔστ᾽ ἀνὴρ σθένων
τοσοῦτον ὥστε σῶμα τυμβεῦσαι τάφῳ,
ἀλλ᾽ ἀμφὶ χλωρὰν ψάμαθον ἐκβεβλημένος
ὄρνισι φορβὴ παραλίοις γενήσεται.
πρὸς ταῦτα μηδὲν δεινὸν ἐξάρῃς μένος.
εἰ γὰρ βλέποντος μὴ ᾽δυνήθημεν κρατεῖν,
πάντως θανόντος γ᾽ ἄρξομεν, κἂν μὴ θέλῃς,
χερσὶν παρευθύνοντες.

For this reason there is no man mighty enough to bury this body, but he shall be cast out upon the pale sand and become prey for the birds along the coast. Why, if we could not rule him while he was alive, at least we shall rule him now that he is dead, even if you do not wish it, controlling with our hands.
Ll-J doesn't translate line 1066 (πρὸς ταῦτα μηδὲν δεινὸν ἐξάρῃς μένος). Jebb translates it as "Then raise no storm of angry threats." More literally: "Then stir up no terrible passion."

1093-1098 (pp. 132-133; Teucer speaking):
οὐκ ἄν ποτ᾽, ἄνδρες, ἄνδρα θαυμάσαιμ᾽ ἔτι,
ὃς μηδὲν ὢν γοναῖσιν εἶθ᾽ ἁμαρτάνει,
ὅθ᾽ οἱ δοκοῦντες εὐγενεῖς πεφυκέναι
τοιαῦθ᾽ ἁμαρτάνουσιν ἐν λόγοις ἔπη.
ἄγ᾽, εἴπ᾽ ἀπ᾽ ἀρχῆς αὖθις, ἦ σὺ φὴς ἄγειν
τόνδ᾽ ἄνδρ᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς δεῦρο σύμμαχον λαβών;

I could never again wonder at a man's doing wrong who was nothing on account of birth, when they who are thought to be nobly born go wrong in talk by uttering words like these. Come, tell me over again, do you say you brought this man here as an ally for the Argives?
At line 1093 Ll-J doesn't translate the vocative ἄνδρες. This omission obscures somewhat the fact that in lines 1093-1096 Teucer is speaking to the chorus, but in lines 1097 ff. to Menelaus. Cf. line 1318, where Ll-J does translate the vocative ἄνδρες as "sirs" (Odysseus addressing the chorus).

1320-1321 (pp. 150-151; spoken by Agamemnon):
οὐ γὰρ κλύοντές ἐσμεν αἰσχίστους λόγους,
ἄναξ Ὀδυσσεῦ, τοῦδ᾽ ὑπ᾽ ἀνδρὸς ἀρτίως;

Why, had we not heard shameful words from this man just now?
Ll-J doesn't translate the vocative in line 1321 (ἄναξ Ὀδυσσεῦ = lord Odysseus), although he does translate the same form of address, at the same position in the line, in line 1316 (spoken by the chorus). Agamemnon is deferential to Odysseus throughout, and the polite vocative here emphasizes his deference.

1338-1341 (pp. 152-153, 155):
ἀλλ᾽ αὐτὸν ἔμπας ὄντ᾽ ἐγὼ τοιόνδ᾽ ἐμοὶ
οὔ τἂν άτιμάσαιμ᾽ ἄν, ὥστε μὴ λέγειν
ἕν᾽ ἄνδρ᾽ ἰδεῖν ἄριστον Ἀργείων, ὅσοι
Τροίαν ἀφικόμεσθα, πλὴν Ἀχιλλέως.

[B]ut though he was such in regard to me, I would not so far fail to do him honour as to deny that he was the most valiant man among the Argives, except Achilles.
Ll-J doesn't translate the words ὅσοι / Τροίαν ἀφικόμεσθα in lines 1340-1341. Cf. Jebb (emphasis added):
[Y]et, for all that he was such toward me, never would I requite him with indignity, or refuse to avow that, in all our Greek host which came to Troy, I have seen none who was his peer, except Achilles.
But this is nit-picking. The translation is excellent.

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