Monday, July 22, 2013

Typesetting and Translation :: Revisions

I have not posted anything for a while. A little over a month ago, I got the idea into my head that I should publish a book based on these blog posts. I thought, foolishly, that the task would be fairly easy. All I would have to do was copy and paste.

Of course, I was wrong.

Why? I had forgotten that these posts were, from the very beginning, a log of my journey as I taught myself how to read Horace in Latin. I had forgotten, or rather I had not considered the possibility, that I had made the kind of errors that I found.

In my prose renditions, instead of disentangling Horace’s Latin, I had actually tied it into Gorgonian knots, hindering the reader not helping. I also found that the poems were filled with errors. I had copied the poems from the online LatinLibrary. That was, I now know, a mistake. There were misspellings, wrong words, and, more often than not, versions of the poems that are no longer part of the textus receptus of Horace’s work. 

So, I had a lot of corrections to make. The result will be, when the book is published next month, something a person serious about learning to reading Horace can and will use.

In the meantime, I am revising all of the past posts. I will insert a new prose rendition and an up-to-date text for each ode.

As an example, in the blog archive to the right, open 2009, then August. Choose the blog entitled "Non Omnis Moriar." This will take you to the revisions I made for Ode 30 of Book 3: Exegi monumentum aere perrenius.

In going over all of Horace’s odes, I discovered two interesting things.

First, I had often wondered, being a printer, why the odes were not all set in the same way. In other words, why were some of the odes set with indents, others with none. As I worked through the odes, sometimes verifying the length of vowels by working out the meter, I discovered this amazing fact:

The pattern of indentation or lack thereof was an indication of the meter used. How clever of some Renaissance printer! If you peruse through Mancinelli’s fifteenth century printed text, you can see the beginnings of variation. Here is Ode 22 of Book III: Montium custos nemorumque virgo:

Sometime after him, I suppose, an editor really went to work and devised a clever scheme of encoding the meter into the way the ode was typeset. I wonder if everyone knew this. I wonder, too, if students knew this. I suppose that even today a student could memorize these patterns and use that to identify the meter—unbeknownst to the teacher!

The indents were based on quads. A quad is the a non-printing piece of type used as a space between words. It is the width of the letter m. You see this word is crossword puzzles: em space. Here are the various patterns used. Click on the image to enlarge.

The second thing that I discovered surprised me and challenged my assumptions about authors and translations and plagiarism. In redoing my prose renditions, I relied heavily on Richard Zerega’s 1924 translations in his Odes of Horace (New York: Nicholas L. Brown) as well as Niall Rudd’s in the Loeb series and on Daniel Garrison’s book Horace: Epodes and Odes, a New Annotated Latin Edition (1991). In comparing the three, I noticed that many of the words Rudd and Garrison used were also used by Zerega. And since Zerega’s book predated either of the others, I began to suspect that maybe Rudd and Garrison had borrowed from Zerega. 

For example, in Horace I:1:5, Rudd like Zerega translated evitata as ‘cleared.’ Garrison, too, spoke of ‘clearing.’  In II:1:8, Rudd also wrote ‘treacherous ash’ for cineri doloso. In III:3:10, Rudd decided on ‘fiery heights’ for arces igneas, but Garrison just like Zerega wrote ‘starry heights.’ In III:21:22, Rudd rendered segnes as ‘loth.’ Zerega used the same odd word.

This ‘borrowing’ seemed more than a coincidence, more than the result of carefully searching through the definitions offered by some Latin dictionary. Had Rudd and Garrison used Zerega’s work? If they had, Zerega’s book is missing from their bibliographies. Or had Zerega used a translation that predated 1924, a translation that was available to both Rudd and Garrison, thus making Zerega irrelevant?

Before I answer this, I should say something about Richard A. Zerega, although there is not much to say. His book has no introduction, no foreword, and no postscript. It may have been printed at Zerega’s own expense, even though Brown was a publisher of some repute. There is a review of the book, but this was done by a fellow alumnus of St. Paul’s preparatory school in Concord, New Hampshire. The review is glowing, as befits a school magazine ever on the lookout for the odd endowment. (See Alumni Horae, Vol 4, Issue 2, 1924).

A search on the internet yielded little information.  On the internet, E. Bruce Brooks writes in 2002 (after garnering information from Zerega family members), that Richard Zerega was the grandson of a shipping magnet Augustus Zerega and was born in New York in 1866. He attended St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire and graduated with a B.A. from Harvard. He died in 1956. His obituary appeared in the Summer 1956 issue of Alumni Horae:

1883-Richard Augustus Zerega died at the age of ninety, May 13, 1956, in New York, N. Y. For many years he was Form Agent for the Form of 1883. Born in New York, February 16, 1866, the son of John A. and Katherine Berry Zerega, he came to St. Paul's in 1880, spent three years there, and graduated from Harvard College in 1887. He practiced law, and also published several volumes of his translations from Latin authors. He was a vestryman of the Church of the Incarnation in New York. He leaves no close surviving relatives.
Brooks mentions that Zerega may have known the ‘anonymous interlinear version’ of Horace’s odes. If he had, this may well explain some common source, but I have as yet been unable to locate a copy of the interlinear translation.

So, I took another route. I started with Niall Rudd’s 2004 translation, which was the most recent I had, and worked backward from there. 

Niall Rudd’s task was to redo Loeb’s 1914 edition of Horace’s odes translated by the scholar C. E. Bennett. Since Rudd’s work was to be an update, it is not surprising that he would use much of what Bennett had written. I found ‘cleared’ for evitata,  ‘treacherous’ for doloso, and ‘loth’ for segnes.  But for arces igneas, I did not find ‘fiery heights,’ but ‘starry citadels.’

Had Zerega used Bennett’s translation? It certainly seems so, especially since not only are many words the same but the syntax as well. 

Then I began to wonder: had Bennett, too, taken from his predecessors?  I looked at the various translations available to me. The ‘treacherous ashes’ showed up in many, including the ubiquitous English renditions of John Conington (1825-1869). But it wasn’t until I found an 1889 edition of C. Smart’s translation that I discovered not only what must have been the source of ‘starry citadels’ but of ‘loth’ as well.

C(hristopher) Smart was a on-again-off-again lunatic and sexually ambivalent character from the eighteenth century who was sometimes Mr. Smart and sometimes Mrs. Midnight. He wrote some interesting stuff and some of it got turned into music. But what concerns me is what he wrote in 1756: The Works of Horace Prose and Verse. I haven’t seen the original. I have only seen its nineteenth-century transfiguration known as The Works of Horace, Translated Literally into English Prose. This was done by a Theodore Buckley a century later and went through many editions and printings, of which the 1889 edition is but one of them. 

I suppose that Bennett and Zerega and Garrison and Rudd all saw Smart’s work, for it was a Latin classroom ‘must.’  Yet none of them mentions the work in their bibliographic references. So, I am left with these questions:—

Is a translation an original work?  Surely that would be the case with Fitzgerald’s translation of Omar Khayyam, but is that the case with Mr. Smart’s 1756 translation of Horace? Apparently not.

If not, why not? Perhaps this has to do with the amount of material ‘borrowed.’ It is impossible to deny the right to take a little here and there. If this were not the case, no retranslation would ever be possible.  After all, who’s to say that two people couldn’t come up with the same translation of a particular word?  

I suppose they could, but my thought is this. If a translator knowingly uses another’s translation, he or she should say so; otherwise, there is always a whiff of disrespect for what came before, a hint of plagiarism. To my way of thinking, you can’t write ‘loth’ for segnes and not give some credit to the ultimate source, if it can be found. I like the way Paul Shorey put it in his 1919 work Horrace Odes and Epodes  (Chicago: Benj. H. Sanborn & Co.) when he mentions his indebtedness to scholars past and present and ends with ‘and others.’  And today, with the internet, where thousands of books may be consulted with a few taps, not to give credit would be a bit foolish.  

I suppose I have raised these questions because I am dealing with Horace, not some obscure author from the Caucasus, whose work is known only by one translation. Instead it is precisely because Horace has suffered at the hands of many, many translators over the centuries, that there has grown up such a thicket of English that it is impossible to say now who borrowed from whom or who has the rights over a particular word. 

My little foray into the translation of four words has made me consider these questions about authorship and ownership. I don’t have any answers, just thoughts.

I will end with this: when I discovered Zerega’s little grey book in the University of Hawai‘i library, I was amazed at the smooth and straightforward nature of his translations. I immediately went online and purchased a copy of his book for a few dollars. I did not use it for my own translations. Instead I saved it to help me correct my Latin prose renditions of Horace’s work. I had no idea how much Zerega was indebted to all of the translators who preceded him. My enthusiasm for Zerega has cooled a bit, but then I think: no, what he did still has merit.

:: Latin books by James Rumford ::

For all 102 odes purchase Carpe Diem, Horace De-Poetizedfor $11.50 at 

For a Latin translation of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer at $12, click here: 

To find out more about Carpe Diem go to the blog of March 26, 2015; 
for more about Pericla Thomae Sawyer, go to the blog of November 22, 2016.