Thursday, June 07, 2012


Our Mortal Lot

Euripides, Iphigenia at Aulis 30-34 (all translations by David Kovacs unless otherwise indicated):
You must feel pain as well as pleasure: you are a mortal. Though you do not like it, that is the will of the gods.
                              δεῖ δέ σε χαίρειν
καὶ λυπεῖσθαι· θνητὸς γὰρ ἔφυς.

κἂν μὴ σὺ θέλῃς, τὰ θεῶν οὕτω
βουλόμεν᾽ ἔσται.
Id. 160-162 (in a passage attributed by some editors to the Reviser):
No mortal is completely blessed or happy. No one yet has been born to a life free of pain.
                      θνητῶν δ᾽ ὄλβιος
ἐς τέλος οὐδεὶς οὐδ᾽ εὐδαίμων·
οὔπω γὰρ ἔφυ τις ἄλυπος.

Re-reading Iphigenia at Aulis, I noticed a pair of asyndetic privative adjectives that had previously escaped my attention, at line 18 (ἀγνὼς ἀκλεής = "unknown, without fame"; my translation).

It would be presumptuous for me to criticize David Kovacs' translation of Euripides' Iphigenia at Aulis, which appeared in the Loeb Classical Library series together with Bacchae and Rhesus (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002). Kovacs' knowledge of Greek is profound, mine is rudimentary. I did, however, note a few minor (no doubt intentional) departures from a strictly literal translation in Kovacs' otherwise very close version.

713 (p. 241): in Phthia (ἐν Φθίας ὅροις = literally "in Phthia's bounds")

726 (p. 243): My custom is to be obedient (πείθεσθαι γὰρ εἴθισμαι σέθεν = literally "My custom is to be obedient to you"). See E.B. England's commentary (London: Macmillan and Co., 1891) ad loc., p. 76, for other examples of πείθεσθαι with the genitive.

836 (p. 255) son of the Nereid (θεᾶς παῖ ποντίας Νηρηίδος = literally "son of a goddess, a queen, Nereus' daughter")

874 (p. 263) I reject the story with contempt (ἀπέπτυσ᾽, ὦ γεραιέ, μῦθον = literally "I reject the story with contempt, old man")

1006-1007 (p. 277) If I ever lie or deceive anyone, may I die. But may I live if I save your daughter! (μὴ θάνοιμι δ᾽ = literally "But may I not die")

If I were the printer of this volume I would put γε κτάνῃς (a manuscript reading of part of line 1207, now in the apparatus on p. 299) on p. 297 where it properly belongs. There's ample room for it at the bottom of p. 297.


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