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Re: Perfective or Perfect?

From:R A Brown <ray@...>
Date:Tuesday, March 18, 2008, 15:53
Eugene Oh wrote:
> I was rereading through my translation of Vergil's Georgics > (admittedly, only the Orpheus & Eurydice parts) into Classical > Arithide, and I came upon a spot I thought I had closed and done with > a long time ago. It has to do with the translation of a certain Latin > past participle, and which aspect I should put it in -- perfective or > perfect, which explains the subject of this mail. > > The Latin original goes, > > "quam multa ... / > ... / > matres atque viri defunctaque corpora vita /" > > , which the Latin-readers will know translates roughly as "many as ... > mothers and men and bodies done with life".
"...dead bodies of great-hearted heroes" in fact (defunctaque corpora vita /magnanimum heroum...)
> The problem I have lies with "defuncta". > > The word I chose to translate it by the last time round in Cl. > Arithide was "korrākāt", which is the perfect aspect participle of the > verb meaning "to experience, to go through", and the indecision I'm > facing stems from whether that is an accurate translation of > "defuncta", because I couldn't decide whether Vergil intended the word > to be read as "have finished with being alive and are now in a sort of > repose" (which calls for the perfect aspect)
Well, they are because at this point phantoms of men, women, great-hearted heroes, boys, unmwed maidens etc flock out like birds which hide in the leaves as evening approaches. so they are clearly in some sort of afterlife - and that would be consistent with what Vergil says in other places (and, indeed, with the general Roman assumption that there was some sort of afterlife).
> or as "went through and > have nothing more to do with being alive" (which calls for the > perfective).
Yes, they have been through life and now have nothing more to do with life *here*, so it could be Cl.Arithide perfective.
> Comments/suggestions, anyone? :-) Many thanks.
To be honest, I do not think you can have a definitive answer to this without asking Vergil himself - and that poses a problem or two ;) I think you can make out a reasonable case for either aspect. In Book VI of the Aeneid it does appear that Vergil believes reincarnation is possible (at least for some), so one could argue that the Cl.Arithide perfect is more appropriate as the dead must be in some sort of repose if they can be incarnate again. There is an interesting note in T.E Page's edition regarding _corpora ... heroum_ :"Not a mere periphrasis = _heroes_, but recalling attention to their heroic build." Umm - as _defuncta_ agrees with _corpora_ perhaps the Cl. Arithide perfective is more appropriate as, though their souls may be incarnate again, their heroic bodies presumably have finished with the life *here8 and exist only in phantom form.
> (This is a really moving piece, by the way, and anyone who can read > Latin but has not read this summary of Orpheus & Eurydice should > probably give the passage a try.)
Vergil is always worth reading IMO :) -- Ray ================================== ================================== Frustra fit per plura quod potest fieri per pauciora. [William of Ockham]


Eugene Oh <un.doing@...>