Saturday, February 27, 2016


Some Translations from Greek and Latin

Cyril Connolly (1903-1974), Enemies of Promise (1938; rpt. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008), pp. 216-217:
Another field for the Pre-Raphaelite influence was in translating. Homer and Virgil were the pillars of an Eton education; it would be hard to derive more pleasure then or now than we obtained from reading them. But we read them with the help of two official cribs, Butcher and Lang for Homer, Mackail for Virgil. Lang believed that Homer must be translated into the nearest English equivalent which was an Anglo-Saxon prose reminiscent of the Sagas. He tried to manage on a Bronze-Age vocabulary, and the Mediterranean clarity of the Odyssey was blurred by a Wardour Street Nordic fog. Homer, in short, was slightly Wagnerized. Mackail, who had married Burne-Jones's daughter, gave to his Virgil an eightyish air, the lacrimae rerum spilled over and his Christian attitude to paganism, that it was consciously pathetic and incomplete, like an animal that wishes it could talk, infected everything which he translated with a morbid distress. Dido became a bull-throated Mater Dolorosa by Rossetti. His translations from the Greek Anthology, one of the sacred books of the inner culture, the very soil of the Eton lilies, were even more deleterious. They exhaled pessimism and despair, an overripe perfection in which it was always the late afternoon or the last stormy sunset of the ancient world, in which the authentic gloom of Palladas was outdone by that attributed to Simonides, Callimachus, or Plato. Meleager was the typical Pre-Raphaelite lover.
J.D. Denniston (1887-1949), "The Loeb Lysias," Classical Review 45.6 (December, 1931) 221-222 (at 221):
Lysias is the most Gallic of Greek writers, and his peculiar charm can probably best be recaptured in French. But it should not be difficult to convey in an English translation the simplicity and naturalness of his manner. Mr. Lamb has not done so. He has chosen to employ, almost throughout, a rather stilted style, which is often cumbrous and sometimes ugly. While Lysias conspicuously prefers ordinary, everyday expressions, Mr. Lamb sedulously avoids them. He introduces us into a somewhat remote world, whose inhabitants, dressed in 'apparel,' 'mount' and 'descend' the stairs to the 'chamber' (or 'apartment') in their 'dwelling,' commit 'transgressions,' 'recking nought' of the 'public weal,' as a result of which a 'goodly' number of them are 'haled' to prison, though the lucky ones are 'absolved' by the court. 'Cravens' in the field, they 'seek' only to preserve their 'possessions.' And they 'judge' (or 'esteem') it 'meet' not to 'hearken' when their acquaintances, with whom they are frequently 'at feud,' 'apprise' them of what is likely to 'befall.' They will not use such vulgar expressions as 'no,' 'before,' 'except,' 'tell,' 'pretend,' 'inside' and 'near,' when 'nay,' 'ere,' 'save,' 'bid,' 'feign,' 'within' and 'hard by' are to hand: only at rare moments do they break out into slang, and complain that they are 'hard up' for statements.

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