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Compare Translations essay

850-1000 words

You are not required to choose a myth for your paper, but students often do because they are relatively short and thus lend themselves to comparison.

The myths by Ovid in your textbook are translated by Charles Martin (always look at the first footnote for translators). I’ve provided alternate translations in PDF format, mostly by Allen Mandelbaum. Diana and Actaeon is the exception, there I’ve provided A.D. Melville’s translation.

Should you choose a longer text, say a book like The Odyssey, The Prince, or The Inferno, just pick a chapter, a canto, or certain passages, not the entire book. Avoid the Bible and Plato’s Apology. Both have been translated so often that discrepancies are hard to find, which effectively doubles the difficulty of your task.
1. Select a work from an ancient author that we’ve studied
2. Visit the library for a second English translation (hardcopy or e-text) or use one of the PDFs I’ve provided.
3. Compare the two English translations. Compare the one in your textbook against another one.

Be careful NOT to choose one myth by two different authors, for example, both Virgil and Ovid write myths about Orpheus. Your task is to focus on the work of the translators, not the authors.

AVOID FREE ONLINE TEXTS such as William Adlington’s translation of Cupid and Psyche from the 1500s, which no one bothers to copyright because no one in their right mind would to pay to read it. Choose more modern versions, like the ones by Joel Relihan or EJ Kenney, which you can find in the library or as e-books.


Last Updated on April 25, 2019

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