Transposing Aristophanes: the theory and practice of translating Aristophanic lyric

Robson, James (2012). Transposing Aristophanes: the theory and practice of translating Aristophanic lyric. Greece & Rome, 59(2) pp. 214–244.




The reception of Aristophanes has gained extraordinary momentum as a topic of academic interest in the last few years. Contributions range from Gonda Van Steen's ground-breaking Venom in Verse. Aristophanes in Modern Greece to Hall and Wrigley's Aristophanes in Performance 421 BC–AD 2007, which contains contributions from a wide range of scholars and writers, a number of whom have had experience of staging Aristophanes' plays as live theatre. In Found in Translation, J. Michael Walton has also made strides towards marrying the theory of translation to the practice of translating Aristophanes (something I have myself also sought to do in print). And with the history of Aristophanic translation, adaptation, and staging being rapidly pieced together (in the English-speaking world at least, where Hall, Steggle, Halliwell, Sowerby, Walsh, and Walton, for example, have all made their own contributions), much of the groundwork has been laid for a study such as is attempted in this article. Here I aim to take a broad look across a range of translations in order to see how one particular text type within Aristophanic drama has been approached by translators, namely Aristophanes' lyric passages. The aim of this study will be to give both an insight into the numerous considerations that translators take into account when translating Aristophanic lyric and an impression of the range of end products that have emerged over the last two hundred years.

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