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words I have always done my best to avoid—which often must be employed in default of any others in our own language capable of adequately expressing the same meaning with greater conciseness.
Another error to be carefully avoided by a translator who desires to adhere faithfully to the simplicity and freedom of the Platonic style is the use of technical terms to convey the doctrines and conceptions of philosophy. One of the most striking peculiarities of Plato's philosophical writings which distinguishes them in a very marked manner from those of his successors is the almost entire absence of any scientific terminology: with the exception of one or two peculiar terms such as είδος Or ιδέα and διαλεκτική, and the special appropriation of διάνοια and θυμοειδές in the Republic, and possibly one or two others, Plato's philosophy is absolutely devoid of any technical phraseology. This is no doubt in a great measure due, and especially in the earlier dialogues such as Gorgias, to the conversational and dramatic form into which he has chosen to throw the greater part of his writings, and also to the fact that in the departments of mental and moral philosophy which he especially cultivated there was no terminology sufficiently established and popular to be suited to his purpose; and partly also I should suppose from what he says in the Phædrus and elsewhere to a dislike and suspicion of technical as well as all other pompous phrases, as unable to give an account of themselves, and without a detailed explanation and modification according to circumstances likely only to mislead and confuse, to pass off fallacies under cover of wisdom. That this may be, and indeed often is, actually the effect of them, will hardly I believe be denied by any one who has ever read even a few
any modern German philosophical work: nor do I think that the harsh and ill-sounding terminology of the Stoics, or even, may I say? of Aristotle, contributes in any degree to render their systems more intelligible. But whatever the reason may be, the fact at all events is that the stock of words and phrases by which Plato carries on his arguments, and arrives at his philosophical conclusions is borrowed almost entirely from the commonest language of common life, and the translator is therefore bound on his part to abstain as far as possible from all technical terms, though they may seem perchance to express the same ideas more neatly and compactly, however authority may have sanctioned and subsequent usage familiarised us with them. I may here just notice two other classes of
expression which offer some difficulty-trifling compared with the preceding—in a literal translation of Plato, namely the complimentary formulas and the oaths ; these though of comparatively slight importance will still often be found somewhat troublesome and impracticable. In regard of the former, which in Plato's text are constantly making their appearance
where they seem least wanted, our English stock of current and familiar expressions of this kind-titles always excepted—is at the present day very low indeed, and greatly reduced from what it was in the more ceremonious days of our forefathers. Even 'fair Sir' has no longer a familiar sound in our ordinary speech, and 'dear Sir''good Sir' worthy
my dear fellow', or the same adjectives with friend', and perhaps one or two
one or two more, fill up the list of those which would nowadays be admitted on any terms into a friendly conversation; and even these are by no means adequate representations of the ώ γενναίε, ώ κάλλιστε, ώ άριστε, ώ μακάριε, ώ βέλτιστε, ώ δαιμόνιε, ω θαυμάσιε, ώ φίλτατε and the rest, which occur with such provoking frequency in Socrates' courteous addresses. As however these phrases so seldom present themselves in an English dialogue, as they are quite isolated, and affect as little as possible the general meaning or spirit of the passage in which they are found, the motives for retaining and making the best of them are by no means so strong as they have been shown to be in the case of the particles, indeed it may be said that the omission of them is justifiable or perhaps even advisable, when by their introduction the translation would assume an antiquated or unfamiliar aspect.
Our modern stock of oaths recognised nowadays as admissible in polite conversation is happily still more limited than that of complimentary expressions. If we still believed in saints sufficiently to swear by them, Our Lady or St George or St Sophia might perhaps be allowed to take the place of “Ήρα or "Άρης or 'Αθηνα in the Greek adjurations; the chaste "Apteurs might be represented by one of the virgin martyrs; and St Sebastian with his juvenile and faultless figure might do duty for the beardless Apollo-unless indeed the somewhat important difference between the two, that the one was a discharger the other a mere recipient of arrows, the one an archer the other only a mark, were thought to disqualify him for sustaining such a part: but in these Protestant times such a resource is no longer available. As to the commoner forms of adjuration which are of such constant occurrence, vri Δία, μα Δία, νή τους θεούς, προς Διός, the rendering that first suggests itself is to be sure appropriate and expressive enough, but shocking to modern ears; what was harmless in a Greek and a heathen becomes profane in a Christian and an Englishman: and though your Italian would think no harm of translating v Ala by the plain per Dio, which he habitually employs in his own ordinary conversation, and even Schleiermacher sometimes blurts out an undisguised 'bei Gott', the reverence with which we are accustomed to surround the sacred name of the Deity will not allow us to have recourse to the same mode of representation, and we are obliged therefore to fall back upon the somewhat poor and tame substitutes of .by heaven' upon my word' by my faith'. upon
my honour' 'egad' 'in heaven's name', which fall short indeed of the expressive force of the original, but are the strongest forms which propriety permits us to employ.
As this professes before all things to be a literal translation, it may be well perhaps in order to avoid the possible charge of carelessness or ignorance from such scholars—if indeed there be any such—who
— would in all cases sacrifice the English idiom to the preservation of the Greek, to notice a few points in which I have not always rigorously adhered to certain rules of translation which have been inculcated in us from our earliest years by lessons addressed alike to the reason and the feelings, and enforced at the same time by a priori authority and by a posteriori application. My rule however has been to pay due attention to such niceties, and I have only neglected them when the exigencies of translation seemed to me to require the sacrifice in order to avoid stifness and awkwardness in the English expression. Some of these points are : the distinction of the Greek aorist and perfect, the uniform observance of which has been by some scholars so peremptorily insisted on.
The fact however is that the idiom of our own language differs in this particular so far from the Greek that we are obliged very frequently to express the Greek aorist by the English perfect. For instance in the common phrase ήδη είδον, in which the verb is rendered 'I have seen', the adverb which