Thursday, January 16, 2020



K.J. Dover (1920-2010), Thucydides (1973; rpt. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979 = Greece & Rome, New Surveys in the Classics, 7), p. 3:
In respect of any author we have to begin with the questions, 'What did he say?' and 'What did he mean?' The procedures designed to answer the first question are subsumed under 'textual criticism', those concerned with the second under 'translation' and 'interpretation'. The division of labour is necessarily inexact, since difficulties in translation often make us ask, 'Did he really write that?', and, conversely, suspicion of the text or choice between variants can seldom claim to be rational unless the meaning is treated as the vital consideration. 'Interpretation', taking 'What did he mean?' beyond the point to which the translator has taken it, investigates the associations which words and ideas had for the writer and his audience, and it merges into the question, 'Why did he write that, in that connection, at that time?' In the case of a historian we can ask—indeed, we cannot help asking, unless we are sadly lacking in curiosity—the further, and separate question, 'Is it true?'

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