Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: CHAT High thoughts, anyone? Yes, Sir !

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Friday, April 30, 2004, 20:24
On Friday, April 30, 2004, at 11:08 AM, Philippe Caquant wrote:

> Got it ! > > > > If you look for "mighty thoughts" in the .pdf file, > you'll come onto: > > "Aeschylus: > Alas poor witling, and can't you see > That for mighty thoughts and heroic aims > the words themselves must appropriate be ?"
Yep - from an English verse translation by a Mr Rogers IIRC (can't remember his first name or initials).
> which is not really far from the formulation I found > in Oracle documentation.
Perhaps - but the Oracle version is clearly a paraphrase and not a translation. But I'm not entirely happy the verse translation either, as you will see below.
> Of course, we should now find the original Greek text.
Thanks to your clue I have tracked it down :-) I discovered the Perseus Tufts site which gives Greek texts with notes and English translation. Their translation is by Matthew Dillon and is more literal than Rogers' verse translation. It is: "It is the compelling power of great thoughts and ideas to engender phrases of equal size." It's from lines 1058 & 1059 of the Frogs: ........................................ ανάγκη μεγάλων γνωμών καί διανοιών ίσα καί ρήματα τίκτειν. I'm afraid my mailer will only allow the monotonic modern notation! For those whose mailers will mangle the Greek, the (roughly) phonemic transcription is: ....................................... /ananke: megalo:n gno:mo:n kai dianoio:n isa kai re:mata tiktein. ananke: - nominative singular of feminine noun 'ananke:' = necesiity, force [of nature], natural need megalo:n - genitive plural feminine of adjective 'megas' = great [in approximately all senses of the English word] gno:mo:n - genitive plural of feminine noun 'gno:me:' = thought, judgment, opinion kai - conjunction = and diaboio:n - genitive plural of feminine noun 'dianoia' = thought, intelligence, understanding isa - accusative plural neuter of the adjective 'isos' = equal kai - adverb = also re:mata - accusative plural of the neuter noun 're:ma' = word tiktein - present active infinitive of verb = 'to engender, to bring to life, to bear, to beget (IMHO both the Rogers' translation & the Oracle paraphrase are the poorer for neglecting the last metaphor) Undoubtedly, the observant will have noticed that the sentence has no verb! The copula is "understood" - not uncommon in ancient Greek. I translate it very literally thus: 'tis natural need of great opinions and thoughts to give birth to words of equal size. As Philippe rightly says, the words are put into the mouth of Aeschylus (Aiskhylos), a writer of tragedies who was fond of highflown and abstruse grandiloquence. It comes as part of an exchange in a supposed debate between the tragedians Euripedes and Aeschylus. Aristophanes is caricaturing both of them! The words Aristophanes puts into Aeschylus' mouth are meant to get a laugh - they're meant to sound exaggerated & ridiculous. I wonder whether, if Oracle had a more correct translation & realized the context, it would have quoted Aristophanes, Frogs 1058 - 1059. As for: "High thoughts must have high language" - it's clearly not a translation, but a paraphrase and IMHO not a particularly good one. So the answer to Mark's question is easy: "I wonder how Aristophanes proposed to measure the height of language. Much less the height of thoughts..." Quite simply, he didn't propose to measure the heights of language or thoughts and he didn't say anything about their heights. He did, it's true have a character he was caricaturing talk about the size of thoughts & opinions as well as words (you can easily measure the size of words); but that is a very different matter. Ray =============================================== (home) (work) =============================================== TRADUTTORE TRADITORE