|York University - Glendon|
|GRADUATE PROGRAM IN TRANSLATION|
Cicero and Translation in the summer of 45 BCE, A study of de Finibus, Academica Posteriora, Tusculanae disputationes
(vii + 248 pp. + CD-Rom.)
Thesis Supervisor / Directeur du mémoire :
Prize for best MA thesis defended at York University (all disciplines) in 2004
Ever since Jerome invoked the authority of Cicero to defend his own free translation method (Letter to Pammachius 57.5), Cicero has been touted as the champion of literary translation, as a fierce opponent of literal translation, and as the first translation theorist whose writings are extant. In support of these views translation theorists have cited Cicero’s rare statements concerning translation in isolation from all context as well as from his actual translation practice. This thesis demonstrates that a critical and re-contextualized reading of Cicero’s translation statements not only fails to substantiate such a binary interpretation of Cicero’s ‘theory’ but also challenges the validity of his status as a translation theorist. In order to assess Cicero’s translation practice itself a systematic investigation was conducted of a corpus of three philosophical treatises written in the summer of 45 BCE (De finibus bonorum et malorum, Academica posteriora, and Tusculanae disputationes) which include an impressive quantity of prose and verse citations translated from many genres of Greek literature. All evidence of translational activity and reflection or commentary was extracted from the Latin text and catalogued. All extant Greek passages corresponding to Cicero’s translations were listed beside the relevant Latin text, while literal translations into English of the Greek and Latin passages were placed under the respective original language texts. [The entire catalogue of translation extracts has been reproduced in electronic format on the CD provided with this thesis.] Examination of these extracts has revealed some remarkable and unexpected aspects of Cicero as a translator. He was an excellent bilingual terminologist; his major discussions about translation in the corpus focused primarily on the problems involved in accurately rendering individual Greek philosophical terms in Latin. He did not engage in any uniform or normative reflection concerning translation of continuous text, be it prose or poetry. Cicero’s translations themselves ranged from rather ‘literal’ renditions to extremely liberal adaptations in response to a variety of personal, cultural, linguistic, readership and contextual requirements. Unhampered by normative restrictions and literal/liberal dualities which beset modern translators, Cicero exercised the freedom to practise the art of creative translation in its purest form.