Tuesday, February 27, 2018


Bowdlerization of Classical Texts

Thanks to Jaume Ripoll Miralda for drawing my attention to the technique of bowdlerization employed in the series Col·lecció Fundació Bernat Metge. The series is similar to the Loeb Classical Library, in that it presents Greek or Latin texts on the left-hand pages, with a Catalan translation on the right-hand pages, but the critical apparatus and notes appear to be much more extensive than those in the LCL.

Here is an image showing how the series deals with an obscene original, from M. Valeri Marcial, Epigrames, Vol. I: Espectacles: Llibres I-IV (Barcelona: Fundació Bernat Metge, 1949), pp. 28-29 (Martial 1.46):

Note that the epigram appears in full in Latin, but instead of a translation there is a space filled with three asterisks.

For the benefit of the prurient-minded, here is the Latin with D.R. Shackleton Bailey's English translation:
Cum dicis 'propero, fac si facis,' Hedyli, languet
    protinus et cessat debilitata Venus.
expectare iube: velocius ibo retentus.
    Hedyli, si properas, dic mihi ne properem.

1 & 4 Hedyli Bentley: -le γ (deest β)

Hedylis, when you say "I'm in a hurry, do it if you're going to," forthwith my passion languishes; crippled, it subsides. Tell me to wait, and I shall go all the faster for the check. Hedylis, if you are in a hurry, tell me not to be in a hurry.
Not that obscene, really — even Walter C.A. Ker translated it in the original Loeb edition (1919). On the sex of Hedylis or Hedylus see P.T. Eden, "More Observations on Martial," Mnemosyne 52.5 (October, 1999) 578-584 (at 578-579).

Also from Jaume:
But maybe the most outstanding censorship to me was a Spanish edition of the poems by Catullus, which is quite an oddity to find these days. The famous "Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo" was translated into Spanish as "Os demostraré mi hombría": I will show you my manhood.

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