25 February 2008

Translation Workshop I

I thought I would try today one of the 'features' I had in mind for this blog, viz. a 'translation workshop', which I envision as useful primarily for students.

Some concerns:

  1. The choice of a text is largely arbitrary and couldn't possibly be equally useful to all. Therefore, I'll pick something that currently interests me, although in the future, as I said in an earlier post, I'd be happy to entertain suggestions from others. What isn't arbitrary about the text below is that it is related to a text I had earlier considered, the so-called 'definition of virtue' in NE II.6, since when that 'definition' is understood in the subversive manner I suggested earlier, then the text below becomes much more important (I think).
  2. Any passage for translation worth its salt could easily lead to a discussion requiring multiple posts to resolve, continuing over weeks. I don't know quite how to handle this, but I imagine that after a handful of posts I'll carry out the discussion simply in the comments area ('Diminishing Fleas'). Thus those who are interested will know where to look, and those who are not will not be troubled.
  3. To generate discussion, I'll raise a few questions, but I don't want to impart too much of a slant to the discussion -- I want to hear what you think.
So then, first the text (from Nic. Eth. III.12), with textual issues highlighted; then the sample translation, with some highlighting; then some questions.

(Yes, I know that Nic. Eth. is a sorry hobby-horse of mine, and apologize for that! I can plead only that I am planning soon to trade up to a newer hobby-horse.)


τὸ δ' ὄνομα τῆς ἀκο-
λασίας καὶ ἐπὶ τὰς παιδικὰς ἁμαρτίας φέρομεν· ἔχουσι
γάρ τινα ὁμοιότητα. πότερον δ' ἀπὸ ποτέρου καλεῖται, οὐθὲν
πρὸς τὰ νῦν διαφέρει, δῆλον δ' ὅτι τὸ ὕστερον ἀπὸ τοῦ προ-
τέρου. οὐ κακῶς δ' ἔοικε μετενηνέχθαι· κεκολάσθαι γὰρ δεῖ
τὸ τῶν αἰσχρῶν ὀρεγόμενον καὶ πολλὴν αὔξησιν ἔχον, τοιοῦ-
τον δὲ μάλιστα ἡ ἐπιθυμία καὶ ὁ παῖς· κατ' ἐπιθυμίαν γὰρ
ζῶσι καὶ τὰ παιδία, καὶ μάλιστα ἐν τούτοις τοῦ ἡδέος
ὄρεξις. εἰ οὖν μὴ ἔσται εὐπειθὲς καὶ ὑπὸ τὸ ἄρχον, ἐπὶ πολὺ
ἥξει· ἄπληστος γὰρ ἡ τοῦ ἡδέος ὄρεξις καὶ πανταχόθεν τῷ
ἀνοήτῳ, καὶ ἡ τῆς ἐπιθυμίας ἐνέργεια αὔξει τὸ συγγενές,
κἂν μεγάλαι καὶ σφοδραὶ ὦσι, καὶ τὸν λογισμὸν ἐκκρούουσιν.
διὸ δεῖ μετρίας εἶναι αὐτὰς καὶ ὀλίγας, καὶ τῷ λόγῳ μη-
θὲν ἐναντιοῦσθαι – τὸ δὲ τοιοῦτον εὐπειθὲς λέγομεν καὶ κεκο-
λασμένον – ὥσπερ δὲ τὸν παῖδα δεῖ κατὰ τὸ πρόσταγμα
τοῦ παιδαγωγοῦ ζῆν, οὕτω καὶ τὸ ἐπιθυμητικὸν κατὰ τὸν
λόγον. διὸ δεῖ τοῦ σώφρονος τὸ ἐπιθυμητικὸν συμφωνεῖν
τῷ λόγῳ· σκοπὸς γὰρ ἀμφοῖν τὸ καλόν, καὶ ἐπιθυμεῖ ὁ
σώφρων ὧν δεῖ καὶ ὡς δεῖ καὶ ὅτε· οὕτω δὲ τάττει καὶ ὁ
λόγος. ταῦτ' οὖν ἡμῖν εἰρήσθω περὶ σωφροσύνης.

Bywater's apparatus:

4. τὸ] τὸν Kb Mb αὔξησιν] ἕξιν αὔξησιν Kb: fort. αὔξην ἔχοντα Mb Γ 6. καὶ ante μάλιστα om. Kb Mb ] γὰρ καὶ ἡ Kb 8. πάντοθεν Kb 12. καὶ om. Kb 13. δὲ] γὰρ Lb Mb Γ

Sample translation (of C. Rowe):
The term 'indulgence' is one we also apply to the ways children go wrong, for these have a certain resemblance to self-indulgence. Which is called after which makes no difference for present purposes, but clearly the later is called after the earlier. Nor does the transfer of usage seem inappropriate; for least to be indulged is the part of us that not only desires shameful things but can become big, and this characteristic belongs to appetite, and to the child, above all--since children too live according to appetite, and the desire for the pleasant is strongest in them. If, then, whatever desires shameful things is not ready to obey and [be] under the control of the ruling element, it will grow and grow, for the desire for the pleasant is insatiable and indiscriminate, in a mindless person, and the activity of his appetite augments his congenital tendency; and if his appetites are strong and vigorous, they knock out his capacity for rational calculation as well. This is why they should be moderate and few, and offer no opposition to rational prescription (which is the sort of thing we mean by 'ready to obey' and 'not indulged'); for [a note says: 'Reading ὥσπερ γὰρ τὸν παῖδα '] just as a child should conduct himself in accordance with what the slave in charge of him tells him to do, so too the appetitive in us should conduct itself in accordance with what reason prescribes. Hence in the moderate person the appetitive should be in harmony with reason; for the fine is goal for both, and the moderate person has appetite for the things one should, in the way one should, and when--which is what the rational prescription also lays down. Let this, then, be our account of moderation.

Some questions:

1. This passage is particularly difficult (I think) among passages in Aristotle in its resisting attempts to render it in ordinary English. For instance, I've highlighted above in orange everything above which, I think, is not natural in English. (It's easy to point these out. The difficulty is: Can you do better?)

2. Where do you think the translation is less accurate than necessary, or unnecessarily misleading? E.g. "the ways children go wrong" suggests Aristotle has in mind different types of going astray (types of bad upbringing), but I don't think such a suggestion is carried by τὰς παιδικὰς ἁμαρτίας. I've noted a few passages like that in bold green. (Again, it's perhaps easy to point these out; difficult to improve upon.)

3. Questions about word choice: one might wonder about 'in a mindless person', 'knocks out' (which is the primary meaning of the word, instead of something like 'evades' or even 'resists'); 'lays down' for τάττει (which seems too weak--isn't Aristotle's image of a commander or leader?).

4. A very small point: presumably 'be' is omitted by an editorial oversight before 'under'? I've added it in brackets.


senn said...

Thanks for the translation exercise, Michael. I hope to contribute my thoughts after I have considered the passage more. But, for now, a quibble with the "very small point" in your question #4: You think "be" must be supplied because, I think, you read Rowe's text like this: "whatever desires shameful things is not ready to (i) obey and (ii) [be] under the control of the ruling element". But I think Rowe understands it thus: "whatever desires shameful things is not (i) ready to obey and (ii) under the control of the ruling element". This, I think, is why Rowe's text has no "be" before "under".

Michael Pakaluk said...

Yes, you are right about how the sentence was meant, and, although perhaps the English ends up being a bit awkward (and a case of 'false scent', as Fowler and Fowler would call it), no word needs to be supplied. Best, Michael