Monday, January 5, 2009

Translating Lysistrata, Iphigenia

I am translating ancient Greek again.

I first translated ancient Greek when writing my adaptation of Lysistrata. I originally intended to use an existing translation, but I couldn't find one that fit what I was looking for. Most of them did not seem to have the most important ingredient to me, a sense of humor. The translations seemed too stuck in a sort of formal speech that precluded easy humor. A couple did go contemporary, but to my taste were overly contemporary, using modern references that jolted.

Anyway, I decided to do for my own. I was deeply indebted to a web site called Perseus which has a link translating every word of the original text. It help augment my, um, less than perfect knowledge of the language.

I am using that same web site now for a new translation of Iphigenia at Aulis. Not much about this now, but it looks like Eric Shanower will do some illustration and we will turn it into a book. The published version of my adaptation of Lysistrata has done very well, especially in classrooms, so I'm hoping for good things.

I'm thinking of this partly because I found an interesting website comparing translations of Lysistrata. It's part of a well done classical studies guide. I would list my version of the passage here, but, I fear, it's a bit risque. Not surprising for Lysistrata, but since this blog also addresses children's books, I hesitate to include it.

However, if you wish to check, I do have an excerpt on the theater company website. Look for the line about halfway between the second and third photos. It's Lysistrata's, of course, and it begins "Of course it will. If we sit around in sexy see-through clothing..."

I've said enough. But I would be curious if anyone feels like spending the time: what do you think of the different translations? Of the other translations, I like Henderson best. But I have to admit, I'm feeling a slight bit smug about my own version, too.

Maybe soon I'll find a less raunchy passage to compare on the blog soon.

If there are any such passages...

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