The Art of Translation



    Introduction| The Task| The Process| | Evaluation| Conclusion






    As the astute Classical scholar has learned, all translations are not alike. Each translator brings to a text not only a standard knowledge of grammar and vocabulary but also a unique mastery of and appreciation for syntax and semantics. Familiarity with an ancient author, his life and times, style and intended audience, related works, and scholarly criticism also affects the initial approach of a translator and the final product of his translation. Choices abound in the translator’s attempt to be faithful to the original intent and historical context of the author while making the reader’s experience with the text authentic and relevant. You are one of a number of editors belonging to a small publishing house specializing in the reprinting of Classical texts in translation and have been charged with the task of reviewing possible editions of Vergil’s Aeneid as outlined below.   

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    The Task:



    Each editor will be assigned an excerpt from a variety of translations of Vergil’s Aeneid which are being considered for republication. As an editor it is your task to conduct a comprehensive review of the excerpt in direct correspondence with the original. Such a review entails your own translation of the selected text, a comparison and contrast with the translation under review, an analysis of the benefits and deficiencies of the translations, and the preparation of a written report and oral presentation announcing the findings of the critique to your colleagues, some of whom will be reviewing the same excerpt.       


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    The Process:


    The following steps are included below in order to assist you as an editor in the completion of your task:

    1.                       Please search the following website in order to access the bibliographic information  of the translation of Vergil’s Aeneid which has been assigned to you:



    2.                       Please obtain a copy of the translation using the bibliographic information contained in the website.   


    3.                       Please translate the appropriate lines of Vergil’s Aeneid using your own textbook with its accompanying notes and dictionary. If any portions of the piece prove exceedingly difficult for you, please search the following website in order to gain some assistance:




    4.                       Please examine the excerpt of the translation assigned to you, comparing and contrasting with it your own translation and documenting both its positive and negative elements, using the skills and techniques you have honed these past three years. 


    5.                       Please prepare both a written report and oral presentation following those guidelines as established in class and on file in the library.



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    Each editor will be evaluated in a holistic manner where both content and format are equal components in the assessment process of the following topics:

    1.        Original translation of Vergil’s Aeneid

    2.        Examination of assigned translation of selected excerpt

    3.        Comparison of the two translations

    4.        Analysis of the benefits and deficiencies of the translations

    5.        Written report

    6.        Oral presentation

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    Upon completion of the sharing of the findings of each editor’s critique, all editors and the owner of the small publishing house will make an informed decision during a working lunch as to which of the translations should be selected for reprinting. 


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    The views and opinions expressed in this page and site, unless specifically noted, are strictly those of Christopher Trause. The Caldwell-West Caldwell School District is not responsible and has no control over the redirected links that take users off the www.cwcboe.org site.