Tuesday, August 01, 2017


Artemis and Her Conquering Bow

Euripides, Hippolytus 1451 (tr. David Kovacs):
The conquering bow of Artemis be my witness!

τὴν τοξόδαμνον Ἄρτεμιν μαρτύρομαι.
The translator knows exactly what the Greek says, better than I could ever hope to, but the translation puzzles my over-literal mind. I ask myself, Can an inanimate object bear witness?

Philip Vellacott's translation is similar:
I swear it by the conquering bow of Artemis.
Liddell-Scott-Jones, s.v. μαρτύρομαι: "call to witness, invoke, c. acc. pers., ... esp. of the gods," citing this line.

David Grene's translation seems to me closer to the Greek:
So help me Artemis of the conquering bow!
But I myself would opt for a straightforward literal translation:
I call to witness Artemis of the conquering bow.

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