More on Libanius; and translating from French

Adrian Murdoch commented on my last post (and gave the origin of the translation of Oratio XI).  But he drew my attention to the existence of French Budé translations of his works: vols. 1, 2 and 4 of Orations (i.e. Oration 1; Orations 2-10; and Oration 59); a selection to public men of his day.  There seems to be a  volume of moral Orations somewhere, according to Copac.

Quite a lot of people know French; certainly quite a few more than know enough Greek to take a volume of Libanius to bed for some relaxing reading.  I would imagine that most specialists would read the French first, and then delve into the Greek.  Of course if they are Germans, they may not know French either; English is the second language of choice, thanks to the USA and the Beatles.

This raises a question.  Why are we all mentally translating and retranslating these French translations into English?  Wouldn’t there be merit in drawing up rough translations of the translations into English, and stuffing them online?  It would make texts more widely accessible; with luck, it would provoke a proper English translation of the original.

I recognise that no academic could publish such a thing.  Indeed they really form part of ‘research notes.’  But we don’t need to publish them; just put them on the web.  Is there a downside?

5 Responses to “More on Libanius; and translating from French”


  1. Christopher Ecclestone

    Sounds like a worthwhile endeavour… I have uploaded Foerster’s edition of Oration X “On the Plethron” and anyone can feel free to exercise their skills in Ancient Greek in making a translation.

    http://freefilehosting.net/download/41e81

    I shall then also upload the translation(s) and link them to my page in the Antiochepedia on the theme of the Plethron & Xystos.

  2. Roger Pearse

    All useful. But… what’s the Plethron?

    Sorry, but the patrologies that I read are thin on the works of Libanius, for some reason.

    In fact, is there any handbook of Greek literary texts, in order, like a patrology? I don’t know of one.

  3. Christopher Ecclestone

    Here is my post on the subject..

    http://libaniusredux.blogspot.com/2008/04/plethron-xystos.html

    a plethron was originally a unit of measurement but a building this size for sports events (sort of an indoor stadium for wrestling etc) acquired the name due to being of this size.

    In Libanius’ Oration X he lashes out at the decline in standards of attendance and sportsmanship. He had some genuine gripes because the Olympics had lost their original values and started becoming a mass market event (sound familiar??). But then he got a superiority attack and expressed his dissatisfaction with the doubling of the size of the hall which of course meant more plebs could enter to see the events. As an aside Libanius is one of the prime sources of information on the Ancient Olympics in Antioch because his family and friends over many decades were sponsors/organisers (alytarchs) of the event.

    Unfortunately this Oration is left out of both Loeb and Norman (in preference to some mind-bendingly boring other works of his..

  4. Christopher Ecclestone

    Unfortunately the link to the French Bude version has gone dead… the site is still there but the document has disappeared… the new curse of our times..

  5. Roger Pearse

    Rats. I try not to worry about it with old posts.



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