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which grace ease and English grammar are alike sacrificed, and the looseness of a paraphrase, which may indeed faithfully reproduce the thoughts of the writer, but must needs fail to give any idea of the dress in which those thoughts are clothed. It seems to me that the true spirit of an author can be conveyed only in his own words, that is, in a literal translation; and this view is I think supported by the fact that all those translations which are generally recognised as the best are literal; I need go no further than our English version of the Bible for an instance in support of this assertion. Of the great, perhaps insuperable, difficulties that stand in the way of
any such attempt none can be better aware than myself: still this union of the letter with the spirit is and must be, the ideal of a perfect translation, and as such should always be kept in view by any one who attempts faithfully to represent any work of literature in the idiom of a foreign language; but still more when the interest of that work depends, as in most of the Platonic dialogues, in no slight degree upon the external form and graces of style. The difficulty of the task of translating is of course increased in proportion to the distance of the age and country in which the work was composed from those in which it is invested with its new dress. The circumstances and associations amongst which the Greeks lived, and whicb. impressed their distinctive character upon their modes of thought and expres
sion, are so entirely remote from those which prevail in this England of the nineteenth century that a modern translator cannot fail to be constantly at a loss for an exact equivalent in his own language for the technical terms, for example, the metaphor, the proverb, the allusion, the distinctions, the turns of phrase, which were current and familiar two thousand
years ago. Hardest of all is the task of doing justice to the language of a subtle as well as imaginative writer like Plato; of rendering adequately the graceful flow of his natural and easy dialogue; of expressing in simple and yet appropriate terms the nice distinctions, the rigorous and systematic, often abstruse, trains of reasoning which yet are made to follow the turns of a lively conversation, and never except in his later dialogues take a formal and didactic shape; of worthily representing the playful humour, the happy and ingenious phrase, the brilliant metaphor, the sly stroke of satire, the burst of eloquence, the sally of passion, the indignant invective, or the lofty flight of poetical imagery: and yet all these have to be in their turn encountered by one who undertakes to translate Plato.
One of the most marked characteristics of Plato's earlier and more dramatic dialogues, and one that I have been most anxious to preserve, is the perfect simplicity ease and familiarity with which the ideas are expressed and the conversation carried on: here there are no laboured antitheses, no balanced clauses, no artificially constructed periods', no pompous phrases, no technical terms of science or philosophy; all the grace is unstudied and the harmony natural. It seems to me that this unartificial character has been occasionally in some degree overlooked in more than one of the most approved, and otherwise most excellent, of the recent English versions of Plato. Translators in turning their phrases and rounding their periods are constantly liable to lose sight of the unstudied and simple graces which charm us in the original, and to convey to their version a certain appearance of stifness and constraint altogether alien from the unrestrained freedom of the Platonic style. It is quite possible to translate Plato too neatly. In endeavouring to avoid this error I have myself as far as possible eschewed the use of all long and technical words, formal and set phrases, and elaborately turned periods, and have been content, as far as I could manage it, to let Plato speak in his own manner, as well as in his own language. With this view likewise I have sometimes preserved even the anacolutha, and always as far as I could retained the same order of the words as that in which Plato wrote them.
One of the most prominent and striking difficulties which a translator of this author has to overcome
1 Plato's style in respect of the structure of his sentences—they are hardly to be called regular periods—is well described by Dissen, in the Essay De Structura Periodorum, prefixed to his edition of Demosth. de Coron. pp. lxx-lxxv.
in the attempt to impart simplicity and freedom to his version lies in the treatment of the Greek
particles. These, singly and in endless combinations, are so numerous, the shades of meaning conveyed by them are so fine and delicate, often by their subtlety escaping detection, always difficult to render; they have so few equivalents in our own language, and many of these awkward and cumbrous words, which thrust themselves forward and force themselves unduly upon our notice—whereas in the Greek those which most frequently occur are little creatures of no more than two or three, or at the most four, letters', occupy little space and attract little attention to themselves—that they throw an endless series of traps and stumblingblocks in the way of a translator who is bent upon expressing them, as perplexing and provoking as they are unavoidable. The simplest and most usual mode of dealing with these particles is to omit them altogether. Here however I must make a special exception in the case of Schleiermacher, who carrying the literal and rigorous exactness by which his work is characterised down to these minute particulars conscientiously translates them all: though how far the German substitutes actually correspond to the Greek originals no foreigner probably is competent
μέν δέ γε γάρ που πoι πως τοι δή αυ άρα ούν μήν αλλά ποτε with their various combinations make up pretty nearly the entire list of the particles in common use in a Greek dialogue.
to decide. If I might venture to express my own opinion upon the point, I should say that in this as in other respects his version is rather over dry and formal. But in omitting these particles we sacrifice in a great measure the expression, so to call it, of the dialogue. It is by these in a great degree that the irony the insinuation the sneer, modesty delicacy reserve hesitation diffidence vehemence resolution positive assertion contempt indignation derision, and numberless other shades and refinements of thought feeling and character are conveyed, or at any rate aided and heightened; they give point to an observation and connection to an argument: they are the light shades and delicate touches of the picturelike the play of features in the actor_hard to catch, easy to overlook or misapprehend, but essential no less to the harmony and finish, the expression and character of the performance. I have therefore never designedly omitted any one of them, except in the few cases where it seemed that such omission would more faithfully represent the original than their insertion'; and in so doing have often I fear run the risk of encumbering and impeding Plato's lively narrative, smart cut and thrust dialectics, or easy conversation, with a number of disproportionately lengthy words-or more commonly phrases, for long
1 The case of the particle yáp, when it occurs as introductory to a narrative, is one of these. Schleiermacher always renders this by nämlichthat is to say, as follows': but I doubt if we have in our language anything exactly corresponding either to the one or the other.