Saturday, June 29, 2019


Worshippers of Euphemia

B.L. Gildersleeve (1831-1924), "Brief Mention," American Journal of Philology 40.3 (1919) 332-337 (at 334):
For many decades we moderns of English or American stock have been more or less devout worshippers of the great goddess Euphemia. But the Tudor translators were not finical. The learned divines of the Jerusalem chamber to whom we owe the Authorized Version rendered the frank Hebrew into equally frank English, regardless of the example of the Massoretes, who offered marginal equivalents. The Caroline version of Rabelais is studded with unbashful words such as seldom see their faces in print. But that was an era when the grave moralist, Sir Thomas Browne, referred to the Library of St. Victor and quoted the treatise of Tartaretus. As time went on the world of print at least became more reserved. The reign of asterisks and dashes began. Mindful of the injunction of Juvenal—arch-sinner that he was—and his 'maxima reverentia' sentence, the editors of the Delphin classics—the favorite editions of my boyhood—sowed the 'ordo' with stars which lighted the wicked boys to dusty dictionaries. The initial and final letters of the national monosyllables were kept apart by an iron bar. One popular translation of the Decameron that I remember called in the naughty Gaul to translate the Italian's more venturesome stories. And so the dull film of decency overspread the world of letters until it reached the opacity of the Victorian age. Scholars ventured to emasculate that spoiled darling of the Muses, Aristophanes, but some of them, alas! did not know what to leave out or what to substitute.
Tartaretus—author of De modo cacandi, according to Rabelais.

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