Translating Thucydides

I resumed translating Thucydides and will move the material to another blog. I was surprised to find that WordPress will now allow cut and paste of ancient greek text. Thucydides is one of the most difficult writers of greek (or any other) prose but is stunning in his demonstration of a mysterious genius of the type so common in the classical period. His work is relevant to our age when ‘democracy’ is under attack and his account of Athens in the era of Pericles and then the Peloponesian war is classic. It is a lot easier to do this now with so much material on the web, it is almost like filling in the blanks: here is the online text and commentary at: Tufts/Perseus. A contribution might be to rewrite the standard translations crippled with filler trying to reproduce the elusively nuanced original: the result is the noticeable verbiage in most translations. A very clipped style would work better. Just locating ‘subject verb object’ (rarely in that order) is often hard. We get lucky in the first paragraph, the first sentence is only four lines long and the subject verb object is here transparent at the start. The Tufts site includes Hobbes’ translation, another classic…
This is the first ‘section’ or paragraph.
CHURCH(1893) p221 THUCYDIDESΘουκυδίδης Ἀθηναῖος ξυνέγραψε τὸν πόλεμον τῶν Πελοποννησίων καὶ Ἀθηναίων, ὡς ἐπολέμησαν πρὸς ἀλλήλους, ἀρξάμενος εὐθὺς καθισταμένου καὶ ἐλπίσας μέγαν τε ἔσεσθαι καὶ ἀξιολογώτατον τῶν προγεγενημένων, τεκμαιρόμενος ὅτι ἀκμάζοντές τε ᾖσαν ἐς αὐτὸν ἀμφότεροι παρασκευῇ τῇ πάσῃ καὶ τὸ ἄλλο Ἑλληνικὸν ὁρῶν ξυνιστάμενον πρὸς ἑκατέρους, τὸ μὲν εὐθύς, τὸ δὲ καὶ διανοούμενον. [2] κίνησις γὰρ αὕτη μεγίστη δὴ τοῖς Ἕλλησιν ἐγένετο καὶ μέρει τινὶ τῶν βαρβάρων, ὡς δὲ εἰπεῖν καὶ ἐπὶ πλεῖστον ἀνθρώπων. [3] τὰ γὰρ πρὸ αὐτῶν καὶ τὰ ἔτι παλαίτερα σαφῶς μὲν εὑρεῖν διὰ χρόνου πλῆθος ἀδύνατα ἦν, ἐκ δὲ τεκμηρίων ὧν ἐπὶ μακρότατον σκοποῦντί μοι πιστεῦσαι ξυμβαίνει οὐ μεγάλα νομίζω γενέσθαι οὔτε κατὰ τοὺς πολέμους οὔτε ἐς τὰ ἄλλα.

Thucydides, an Athenian, composed a chronicle of war between the Peloponesians and the Athenians, starting at its onset, considering it would be greater and more noteworthy than all that had gone before (than all ere fought), judging that both sides were in full readiness, as the rest of Greece took sides, some straightway, some intending to do so in the future. For this was the greatest martial kinetic (kinesis, commotion) to have beset the Greeks, including even some barbarians, indeed much of mankind. In fact, the history just prior to our present and that more ancient still, as difficult as that might be to assess given the passage of time, squinting to furthest extent possible to me, are lost to us now but would seem to have been not as great, either militarily or otherwise.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s