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Video: Profs. Ken Wolf, Chris Chinn and Richard McKirahan Discuss the Discoveries They've Made Through Translating Texts

On March 4, 2013, three classics professors joined forces to explore the discoveries they have made through translating texts in the event "Lost and Found in Translation."

Ken Wolf, professor of history and classics, discussed his chance "discovery" of a curious and rather mysterious Latin text from perhaps the 10th century that sheds light on the range of Latin Christian views of Islam. He believes that the Tultusceptrum de Libro Domni Metobii captures a particular kind of "view of Islam" that was most likely generated by Christians living under Muslim rule in Spain; that is, by Christians who had a stake in defending their religious identity without overtly disparaging Muhammad.

 

In his talk, Assistant Professor of Classics Chris Chinn discussed translating Latin poetry into English in such a way that approximates the Latin poetical meters. He shows how different translators have used different English verse forms to approximate Latin hexameters. For his translation of Statius' Achilleid, he used a 5 beat line, roughly iambic, to capture the speed of the Latin hexameter. At the same time he maintained the same number of verses as in the Latin original in order to facilitate the use of his translation by students.

 

Finally, Professor of Classics and Philosophy Richard McKirahan speaks about his experience translating into English all the information about Thales (the earliest Greek philosopher - scientist - mathematician - sage) that is preserved in ancient and medieval texts in Greek, Latin, Arabic and Persian. Crucial were collaborations with Arash Khazeni (History, Pomona College) and Ahmed Al-Awisha (Philosophy, Pitzer College), who helped to produce translations of texts in Arabic and Persian (languages which he does not know) that are superior to previous translations.

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