papyrus

Translating

For me years (close to 50) I have been working on translations, mostly from ancient Greek, though occasionally from Latin.

My Greek has improved over the years, though I am still no scholar and need to have a lexicon and a grammar near by. I often translate with the aid or a crib. A crib is someone else's literal translation of the text. I use it as a reference to make sure that I am not too far off the rails. Still, decades of decifering does pay off some. I am now able to look at a line and think about not just what that Greek might say but how it says it. How is the poet arranging the line. What kind of rhetorical strategies are in play, what kind of word play. Trying to capture that in English is all the fun.

One might say that translating ancient Greek is a strange and frivolous thing to do as the world burns from Climate change, pandemics and a constant threat to Democracy. True enough. But we all distract ourselves as we can, whether it is Netflix or Callimachus. Also, I have the irrational faith that poetry is always at least marginally relevant to the lives we lead.

Current Translations

Tartarus, a translation of lines 715 to 819 from Hesiod's Theogany

A translation of the Iambi of Callimachus will be following soon.

About the Picture

This is a picture of a piece of papyrus that has text from Callimachus' Aetia. I got it from an internet search. It comes from a Pinterest site called Onur Taşkıran Poetry. Google reverse image search locates it in Wikipedia commons. The metadata says the image is public domain.