Sometimes the only way forward is to plunge in, and see what happens. So I have taken the modern Greek translation of Methodius ad Theodorum by Ch. Stergioulis, and machine-translated it into English. The results are attached, together with Stergioulis original, which has the ancient Greek facing the modern Greek, and footnotes at the end.
The ancient Greek original is preserved in a single Vatican manuscript, which gave the editor, G. Anrich, a lot of problems – so much so that he printed it in volume 1 of his Agios Nikolaos, and then printed a transcription of the manuscript in vol. 2, with corrections. Some of his footnotes in vol. 1 betray bafflement; and so do some of Stergioulis’ footnotes! Words otherwise unknown, I gather. It’s clear that the text is corrupt.
I scanned Stergioulis’ translation into a Word document (attached). Then for each chapter I did the following:
- Run the Greek through Google Translate and paste it into a Word document.
- Send a request to Bard AI, “please translate this from modern Greek into English, with notes”, followed by the Greek. The notes were usually useless, but sometimes not.
- Send a request to ChatGPT 3.5, “please translate this from modern Greek into English” (this wouldn’t give notes), followed by the Greek.
- Manually modify the Google Translate output in the Word document using the output from the two AI websites. Where all three agreed, this was no problem, and it was just a case of choosing the most pleasant version. Where one disagreed, I looked a bit harder at it. Where all three disagreed, I started looking up some key words in Greek dictionaries, and looked at the footnotes. There was in fact only one sentence, in chapter 10, where the meaning of a clause -“και φοβούμενος το λιχνιστήρι34 αυτής της ανθρωπαρέσκειας για την απόκτηση αγαθών – was completely unclear, and I got there in the end.
This was usually straightforward, not least because the chapters were small.
For a couple of chapters Bard AI threw a wobbly. Instead of outputting a translation, it started to spew a message in Greek, basically saying “I am an AI model, I don’t know how to do that.” It seems that it was ignoring the English part of my request string, thought that I was writing in Greek, and so it treated the Greek passage as itself a request to do something, not as something to translate. I found that replying with “Could you translate that request from modern Greek into English?” did the trick, and caused it to translate instead.
Anyway, here is the output from this process.
- Stergioulis-Greek (PDF, 32mb)
- Stergioulis-Greek-OCR (Word .docx of the modern Greek text)
- Stergioulis-translation (Word .docx)
- Stergioulis-translation (the same, in PDF form)
The translation is readable enough. I’m not sure how accurate it is – any comments, anyone?
UPDATE: final version here.