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Re: Untranslatable Texts

At 5:51 PM -0400 5/22/97, Will Wagers wrote:
>Dear B-Greeks,
>I am collecting a list of "untranslatable" texts (in any language) for
>the Hyperliteral Page. If you have a favorite untranslatable text,
>please give me the reference and the nature of and reason for its

My colleague at Washington U, Merritt Sale, insists that Epicurus (we have
relatively little--three letters and some aphorisms) is untranslatable
because it is impossible to be clear at several points on exactly what he
is saying in the Greek or what it means. My own favorite untranslatables
are Thucydides (the speeches rather than the expository prose or narrative)
and Aeschylus (esp.the Agamemnon). I think these are also the most
difficult prose and poetry, respectively  (add Pindar's epinician odes to
the poetry) extant. What makes them especially difficult is syntax strained
creatively to achieve fascinating ambiguities that one dare not (or so it
seems to me) resolve the issue by deciding for a single one of multiple
possible interpretations. The more I think about it, I believe there are
some passages of Paul in the NT like this too, a couple of them recently
under discussion, like Rom 8:1-4 or 7:1-6--and others will have their
"favorites" too, no doubt.

On a personal note, I'm glad you're back, Will. I had an inquiry from
someone last winter who wanted to get in touch with you and none of the
addresses I had seemed useful at the time.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018
cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu  OR cwc@oui.com
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/

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