Sunday, October 31, 2004

Republic 328c1-4

He was seated on a sort of cushioned stool, wearing a chaplet, for he happened to have just sacrificed in the courtyard. We sat down beside him, for some stools were arranged in a circle there.

[The grammar of etugchanen with the participle tethukos is a bit tricky. The use of etugchanen with the participle indicates that the main action is in the participle, and etugchanen simply adds something like "by chance" or "happened to."

The word I've translated "cushion" is proskephalaiou, which is literally "head cushion" or "pillow"; it includes the root keph-, which is in the name Cephalus.

When I think about it, this scene strikes me as strangely grotesque. People are sitting around in a circle, and the (literal) head of their group has just made a sacrifice in the courtyard, for which he has been crowned.]

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Michigan 45, Michigan State 37

Good triple-overtime win for the Wolverines, who look poised for a good bowl game, but the mathematicians tell me that if both they and Wisconsin go undefeated in the Big-10, the Badgers will head to Pasadena. Gutsy call to go for two points after the touchdown in the third overtime. That really seemed to put the pressure on the Spartans, and it's always good to beat them. Almost as good as beating Ohio State. If only there hadn't been that game at Notre Dame in week two.

Lloyd Carr will go down in history as one of the best UM coaches. Better than Bo? Hmmm. (By the way, I thought Bo's piece on W was spot-on. Some of the responses from OSU and MSU fans are priceless.)

Memo to Charlie Krieger: Better luck next year.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Republic 328b9-c1

And he seemed to me to be very old, for it had been some time since I had seen him.

[It appears there's a Gr. idiom here, dia chronou, which I've translated "it had been some time." It may just be that P. is using dia with the genitive to indicate the means (see Smyth, 1679). That is, the means of explaining why C. seems old to S. is that it has been some time since S. has seen C.

I find this description by S. a bit strange, for S. himself is no spring chicken. I'll try to track down how old S. might be at this point in his life, since a little later S. will ask for advice from C. because C. is older.]

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Republic 328b4-8

So we went to the home of Polemarchus, and there we came upon Lysias and Euthydemus, Polemarchus's brothers, and also Thrasymachus, the Chalcedonian, and Charmantides, the Paeanian, and Cleitophon, the son of Aristonymus. Polemarchus's father, Cephalus, was also at home.

[Another sentence you hope turns up on the Greek final, but it never does. Instead, you get the one with four participles in the subjunctive.

Shorey says that "The particles single out Thrasymachus for ironical emphasis." I don't know why. Any enlightenment on this matter is appreciated.

Notice how these people are all non-Athenians (i.e., foreigners).

Euthydemus gets a Platonic dialogue named for him; he also gets a lesson or two from Socrates in Xenophon's Memorabilia.]

Monday, October 25, 2004

Republic 328b2-3

And Glaucon said, "It seems we must remain."
"Well, if it seems so," I said, "then must one so do."

[The interesting part about this little exchange is the meaning of dokei in 328b3, which I've translated "seems."

First, one has to decide if the verb is in the second or the third person. Cornford favors the second person and translates "if you think so." All the others I consulted went with the third person, which results in a translation involving the third-person "it"; e.g., "it seems . . . ." I think the second-person construction is rare.

Second, one has to decide the meaning of dokei. It could mean think, suppose, expect, seem, etc. Fortunately, the options are narrowed down because of the third-person dokei. In this context, the word that makes the best sense is "seems."

To throw in another wrinkle, Bloom notes the following: "At the end of this scene, which is a dramatic prefiguration of the whole political problem, Socrates uses this word as it was used in the political assembly to announce that the sovereign authority had passed a law or decree. It is the expression with which the laws begin, "It is resolved by [literally, 'it seems to'] the Athenian people. . . ." (Bloom, 441n6). See, e.g., Herodotus, The Histories 1.3.2; see the entry in LSJ II.4.b for more entries in this vein. Thus, Bloom translates it "resolved."

This is a bit too interpretive for my tastes. I think it's important to draw the connection with the political resolutions, but I'm not sure if that's sufficient to employ the English word "resolved" to capture the meaning intended. However, Godley's translation of the Herodotus passage noted above disagrees with me, too.]

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Republic 328a9-b1

"for after dinner we'll get up and go see the all-night festival. And we'll be together with many of the youths there, and we'll talk. So stay, and don't do otherwise."

[This is the first instance in the Republic of the verb dialego, meaning to converse with, argue, or discuss a question. I've translated it here as "talk."]

Summer Reading 9

The Bear and the Dragon, Red Rabbit, The Teeth of the Tiger by Tom Clancy

When I was in college, I once got into the elevator in my dorm and overheard the following line of a conversation between two other guys: "Weezer is so much better than Green Day."

I tried really hard not to laugh, not because it's obvious the guy was wrong, but because they were having the conversation in the first place. As music goes, both bands are so banal it's pathetic that he was trying to argue for the artistic merits of one over the other. I vowed never to engage in such a conversation.

I'm about to break that vow with the following sentence. Tom Clancy is so much better than Robert Ludlum.

Anyway, I'd been slacking on my Tom Clancy reading for a while, and I decided to catch up. (I've been reading Clancy since The Hunt for Red October came out. I've now read all his Jack Ryan novels.) TBatD wasn't too bad; it's pretty much an advertisement for the U.S. military.

I've noticed a pattern in Clancy's plots since Rainbow Six. They seem to be really anticlimactic. The climax of RS was really boring. As was the climax of TTotT. As was the climax of RR. Part of the reason is that the good guys have such better technology than the bad guys (see RS and TTotT) that there's really no contest when it comes down to fighting. At least Clancy respects this and doesn't place his heroes in harrowing situations for the sake of the harrow. No. The good guys have weapons that don't require the harrowing situation, and Clancy, despite the resulting boring climax, should at least be given credit for sticking to his guns. (Sorry, I couldn't resist the pun.)

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Republic 328a6-7

"And they'll also hold an all-night festival that will be worth seeing."

[Pol. here uses some of the same language S. had used in the first sentence of the dialogue to describe why he went down to the Peiraeus. S. went down theasasthai, to see. (Literally, the last phrase is "that worthy to see.") Both Pol. and S. want to see, that is, to be spectators: S. of "the manner in which they would perform the festival" and Pol. of the "all-night festival." S. says the procession was kalos, fine or noble; Pol. says the all-night festival will be axios theasasthai, worth seeing.]

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Republic 328a3-6

"Will they hold torches and hand them off to one another as they race on horses? Or what do you mean?"
"That's it," said Polemarchus.

[See the Laws 776b for Plato's metaphor about passing the torches. Adams has some comments as well.

I've been linking to the Perseus mirror sites because the one at Tufts doesn't seem to be working. Sorry if it takes a little longer for your computer to connect to Berlin.]

Monday, October 18, 2004

Republic 328a1-3

Then Adeimantus said, "Why then, have you not heard that tonight there will be a torch-race on horseback for the goddess?"
"On horseback?" I said.

[One of my favorite Socratic replies: "On horseback?" Whenever someone praises something to me on the basis of its novelty, I almost always think, "On horseback?"]

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Republic 327c12-14

"But are you really able to persuade," he said, "if we do not listen?"
"Not at all," said Glaucon.
"Well, you'd better make up your minds to that, since we won't listen."

[I'm not terribly pleased with my translation of 327c14. One difficulty is what to do with os. The way I've got it, it refers back to the previous comment that P. won't listen. Adams translates "you may make up your mind that we shall refuse to listen," putting the os with the genitive absolute. I'm not sure which is correct.

Another difficulty is the genitive absolute (akousomenon). Since it's in the future tense, it seems to indicate that P., et al. don't intend to listen to S. or G. I think my translation of "since" is too strong, but I couldn't work out another satisfactory way.

It's only taken me one week to translate one Stephanus page. At this rate I'll be done in about six years.]

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Republic 327c10-11

"Is there not yet one possiblity remaining," I said, "that we should persuade you all of the need to let us go?"

Friday, October 15, 2004

Republic 327c7-9

"Well, do you see how many of us there are?" he said.
"How could I not?"
"Then you two must either turn out to be stronger than these men, or stay here."

[Most translators (Grube, Shorey, Cornford, Bloom) translate 327c8 as a statement. In the Gr., it's a question, but since the aforementioned translate it as an indicative statement, I'm probably being naive in translating it as a question in Eng. Also, the note in Smyth on the construction used in 327c8 (pos gar) is interesting given the context here: "imply that something is impossible (often of surprise)" (see Smyth, 2805). It is indeed a strange question Polemarchus asks.]

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Republic 327c4-6

Then Polemarchus said, "Socrates, you both seem to me be hastening to return to town."
"You do not guess badly," I said.

[This was the first sentence I really puzzled over and still came to the conclusion that there is no way to translate it literally from Gr. into sensible Eng. The problem is that the participle apiontes ("returning") doesn't go well in Eng. with the infinitive hormasthai ("to hasten"). So I switched the parts of speech. I've always heard that even a good translation is no substitute for the original language, but now I'm convinced, partly because I don't think these types of situations can be uncommon. I suspect they're more like the norm than not.]

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Republic 327c1-3

So a little later Polemarchus arrived with Adeimantus, the brother of Glaucon, and Niceratus, son of Nicias, and some others who apparently were from the procession.

[This is the kind of sentence you hope ends up on an exam, but it never does. The verb hake gave me some trouble. At first I translated it "came up," but then, given Plato's attention to up and down (cf. first word of Republic, kataben), I didn't want to include connotations of "up" when the Gr. didn't require any. But I still wanted to avoid something like Grube's "joined us." Bloom's "caught up" worked a little better, even though it uses "up," because the idiom "caught up" doesn't juxtapose its "up" with "down." But the lexical meaning of hako has the notion of coming to a place more than Bloom's connotation of catching up.

One question: Most of the translators inserted the word "apparently" before "from the procession." I couldn't figure out why, but I went along with them. I figure it must be the use of tines.]

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Republic 327b5-8

And I turned around and asked where Polemarchus might be. "There," he said, "he is coming behind; just wait."
"Certainly, we will wait," said Glaucon.

[Three things here.
(1) Do people still ask where someone "might be"? Or is it better to ask where someone "is"? S. uses the optative case to inquiry into the whereabouts of P., which is literally translated "might be." That might sound foreign and/or highfalutin to some, but I like it.
(2) The name "Polemarchus" does not actually occur in the text here. There is only the verb "he might be" and the reflexive "himself" so that the reader knows S. is inquiring after P. and not, for some odd reason, the slave boy standing in front of him. But translating "he himself" seemed awkward.
(3) The last sentence is a hodgepodge of particles and pronouns. Cornford translates: "'Very well,' said Glaucon, 'we will.'" There seems to be a slight difference between this and Bloom's "Of course we will wait." Cornford's offers the possibility that G. is reluctant to wait; Bloom's makes G. sound a bit eager to wait for P. (This could be an attempt to show off Glaucon's eagerness; cf. 357a.) I couldn't find anything one way or the other in LSJ or Smyth on the particular construction used here, so I tried to strike a middle ground with the colloquial "certainly."]

Monday, October 11, 2004

Republic 327b4-5

And after the boy had taken hold of me from behind by the cloak, he said, "Polemarchus orders you both to wait."

[Again, the use of keleuo should be translated "order." There are other words Plato could have used if he wanted to have the slave boy say "P. wants you to wait," which is how Shorey and Grube translate it. Bloom uses "order" consistently, which is not unusual for his translation (despite other shortcomings it may have).]

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Republic 327b1-4

After we had offered prayers and looked on, we turned toward the town. Then from afar, Polemarchus, son of Cephalus, recognizing us hastening home, ordered his slave boy to run and order us to wait for him.

[It may seem strange that Polemarchus would have his slave boy order Socrates and Glaucon to wait. Shorey translates the phrase as "bid us wait," and Grube "ask us to wait." But these translations seem to miss the fact that Plato uses the same word (keleuo) for the directions Polemarchus gives to the slave boy and the directions the slave boy gives to S. and G. Would Plato shift meaning in this close a proximity? I don't know for sure, but I doubt it. I think the repetition of the word indicates that Polemarchus considers S. and G. to be similar to his slave boy in an important way: he gives orders to them. However, the credentials of Shorey and Grube are much better than mine, so one should hold my translation loosely, though I think it the better one.]

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Republic 327a1-5

I went down yesterday to the Peiraeus with Glaucon, son of Ariston, to pray to the goddess and, at the same time, wishing to see the manner in which they would perform the festival, since this was now its first observance. The procession of the native inhabitants seemed to me to be fine indeed; however, the one which the Thracians conducted came off no less fitting.

New Long-term (Very Long-term) Project

So I'll be posting my translation of Plato's Republic here. It will go very slowly, but I hope to at least do a sentence or two a day. After a while, I should be able to pick up the pace, but for now my Greek skills are about a two on a scale of fifty, which is also a good reason not to trust my translation.

Republic posts will be titled "Republic ###," where the "###" will be replaced with Stephanus numbers. My translation will be in blue. Any comments I make will be in brackets in black. Comments and corrections are most welcome. Someone should also start taking bets on whether I'll finish this before I die: odds are probably not in my favor, but stranger things have happened.