Halrloprillalar (prillalar) wrote,

Hareios Poter kai he tou Philosophou Lithos

This is the coolest thing I've seen all week: notes on translating Harry Potter into Ancient Greek by Andrew Wilson. If you have a Greek font installed, you'll be able to read the Greek words and phrases. (The translation isn't out til October, btw.)

He writes about the research that he did, about how he took Lucian as his stylistic model, and about how he chose some of the vocabulary. I'm particularly interested in he hamaxostoichia for "the train" since the Latin translator used the same word: "Hogwarts Express" is hamaxostichus rapidus Hogvartiensis. (I really wished there had been translator's notes in the Latin version. Why did he use the Greek term there?)

The very best, though, is when Wilson tells us how he translated proper names. For instance, Malfoy becomes Malakos -- soft, effeminate. (Draco, of course, is already a Greek name.) And Crabbe and Goyle are Karkinos (crab) and Kerkops (tailed-one, monkey-man, after the Kerkopes, two thieving brothers that Herakles captured and Zeus later turned into monkeys). I think I'll just call them Karkinos kai Kerkops from now on -- so much fun to say! All those Ks!

I could go on, but you should really just go read the article. There's also a link to an audio file of an interview he did on NPR where he reads a bit from the Quidditch (ikarosphairike) game. Oimoi! says Lee Jordan when Katie Bell takes a Bludger (rhopalosphairion) to the head.

I had already been thinking about Greek for a few days when I saw this and now the Greek-longing is on me very badly. I did my BA in Greek and Latin Language and Literature and I have 8 semesters of each language, but Greek has always been my favourite. I like Latin well enough -- and reading (or rather, translating) it gives me a nice orderly feeling in my brain, like puzzle pieces sliding together. But Greek touches me more deeply. The sounds of the words and the flow of the sentences all seem to fit in a way that Latin never did with me. Greek always seemed to become English more easily -- not that the actual process of translating was any easier, in fact it was probably harder, but the translated text was easier to express in good English.

And now I wish so very, very much that I were back at university, translating Greek with a class or by myself in the Reading Room. I think being an undergraduate is probably the most fun of anything I've ever done and I'd jump at the chance to go back and do it again.

So I dragged out my Greek lyric poetry text and translated a bit, to make myself feel better. This has nothing to do with Harry Potter and it's probably pretty loose, but here's the finished product, a poem, possibly fragmentary, by Mimnermus.

What is life, what is pleasing without golden Aphrodite?
May I die when these things are no longer pleasing to me:
Secret love, gentle gifts, and the bed.
The flowers of youth are alluring to men and women.
Then painful old age arrives, which makes a man both ugly and base,
And evil cares ever wear away at his heart,
Looking at the light of the sun does not delight him,
But he is hateful to the boys, and dishonoured by the women.
Thus the god has made old age a painful thing.

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