Good Translation for Plato's Republic?

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Theawesomemanman
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Good Translation for Plato's Republic?

Post by Theawesomemanman » Tue Dec 14, 2010 1:57 pm

Okay so right now I have this translation

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Republ ... e+republic

I have the Barnes and Noble Classic series version.

I've read many reviews that it isn't a good translation. I agree with that, I'm trying to read it, but I find myself annoyed with way the book is written, not the book itself.

I was wondering, do you know any translations that are SIMPLE and EASY TO UNDERSTAND.

I don't like translations/books that have difficult vocabulary. I don't like having to look up in the dictionary every word I read, it gets old pretty quickly.

I also don't like reading translations that say things in weird ways like for example "Happy are you not?", and writing styles similar to Shakespeare and Old English. I like writing styles that are modern, simple, and easy to understand.

I want to focus as much attention as possible on the actual material of the book and little to no attention at all to how it is written. I simply don't care about sophisticated writing. I like simple and easy writing.

So I was wondering, do you guys know of any translations for Plato's Republic that is easy to understand and doesn't have lots of complicated vocabulary?

Richard Baron
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Re: Good Translation for Plato's Republic?

Post by Richard Baron » Tue Dec 14, 2010 3:36 pm

I could not get the link to work, but the ISBN in the link appears to be for a reprint of the Jowett translation. If that is so, I can understand your difficulty. That translation is from the nineteenth century.

There are plenty of more modern translations available. I would suggest going into a bookshop or a library and browsing through a few of them. Only you can tell which style will suit you.

You may also find that it helps to read a summary of the Republic, so that you know what is coming. There are quite a few summaries out on the Internet and freely available, ranging from a couple of pages to 20 pages. Just google "Plato's Republic" and Summary, or "Summary of the Republic", or something like that, to find them.

Having said that, it is of course vital to read the text itself. A summary is not a substitute.

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Aetixintro
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Re: Good Translation for Plato's Republic?

Post by Aetixintro » Tue Dec 14, 2010 5:04 pm

Try secondary literature, of the kind that gives you reading advise? :)

It's my impression that translations (fx. Hackett?) try to be as genuine and close to the original language as possible and I guess it's never going to become easy.

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Metadigital
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Re: Good Translation for Plato's Republic?

Post by Metadigital » Thu Dec 16, 2010 7:17 pm

Alan Bloom is a good one. He's the first one that translated the Republic without the Christian reinterpretation other translations were filled with.

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fiveredapples
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Re: Good Translation for Plato's Republic?

Post by fiveredapples » Sat Mar 26, 2011 5:17 pm

You might try the Grube translation, recently revised by Reeve. One quick way is to look up the book on Amazon and then click the 'search inside' option. You'll have enough of the writing available to see what you like.

chaz wyman
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Re: Good Translation for Plato's Republic?

Post by chaz wyman » Sun Mar 27, 2011 12:57 am

If you have the time, never use one translation. There is no such thing as the 'best' one.
If you are a serious scholar of ancient Greek writing it is always best to get a bit of the language under your belt. Modern English words inevitably come loaded with modern connotations, and translators through the centuries have taken Plato's terms to mean things that are amenable to the modern ear. This always tends towards a re-habititated text that is more likely to speak to contemporary issues but can miss the original nuances of Plato's time.
Whenever I used to study ancient texts I tried to use a parallel Greek text so as to identify technical terms in the original Greek and not how they have been (mis-) translated by different English versions.
After time and emersion in understanding the historical context you will be surprised by how much nonsense has been added by translation and how the translators have added their own unique interpretations.
For a most banal example in Socrates' Apology, the English translation put the word "God" in his mouth as if he were talking about the Christian God, when he actually refers to the Hellenic gods, goddesses or specifies Zeus or some other deity.

So by all means get yourself a good English translation with chapter and line number, But get yourself the LOEB edition with parallel Greek text - it is an amazing eye opener!!

http://www.amazon.com/Plato-Republic-Bo ... 0674992628







Theawesomemanman wrote:Okay so right now I have this translation

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Republ ... e+republic

I have the Barnes and Noble Classic series version.

I've read many reviews that it isn't a good translation. I agree with that, I'm trying to read it, but I find myself annoyed with way the book is written, not the book itself.

I was wondering, do you know any translations that are SIMPLE and EASY TO UNDERSTAND.

I don't like translations/books that have difficult vocabulary. I don't like having to look up in the dictionary every word I read, it gets old pretty quickly.

I also don't like reading translations that say things in weird ways like for example "Happy are you not?", and writing styles similar to Shakespeare and Old English. I like writing styles that are modern, simple, and easy to understand.

I want to focus as much attention as possible on the actual material of the book and little to no attention at all to how it is written. I simply don't care about sophisticated writing. I like simple and easy writing.

So I was wondering, do you guys know of any translations for Plato's Republic that is easy to understand and doesn't have lots of complicated vocabulary?

dard4d
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Re: Good Translation for Plato's Republic?

Post by dard4d » Wed Dec 12, 2012 7:58 pm

[quote="Metadigital"]Alan Bloom is a good one. He's the first one that translated the Republic without the Christian reinterpretation other translations were filled with.

Hi Metadigital,

Do you know from where I could get the Alan Bloom translation? I am also looking at the same book that the OP is reading, and the translation is very difficult to understand. I found a website that seems to be about the translation of the book, but I am not sure if the book is available for people to buy.
Last edited by dard4d on Tue Dec 25, 2012 2:33 am, edited 3 times in total.

duszek
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Re: Good Translation for Plato's Republic?

Post by duszek » Sun Dec 16, 2012 8:45 am

I only know the translation by Benjamin Jowett, it is printed in the Collector´s Library of Essential Thinkers and introduced by Tom Griffith. It is very nice to read and sounds antique, like Shakespeare.

lukasecho
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Re: Good Translation for Plato's Republic?

Post by lukasecho » Tue Mar 18, 2014 11:47 am

Well I just read the version by Waterfield, Robin (1994). Plato: Republic. Oxford World's Classics.

It seemed a little odd - as he has changed the Book divisions (10) into different Chapters (12) and some of the text seems a bit idiomatic / anachronistic.

Has anyone else read this translation - What are your thoughts on it?


Wikipedia lists:

Translations
- Allen, R.E. (2006). Plato: The Republic. New Haven: Yale University Press.
- Bloom, Allan (1968, revised 1991). The Republic of Plato. Translated, with notes and an interpretive essay. New York: Basic Books.
- Burges, George (1854). Plato: The Republic, Timaeus and Critias. New and literal version. London: H.G. Bohn.
- Griffith, Tom (2000). Plato: The Republic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Grube, G.M.A. (1992). Plato: The Republic. Revised by C.D.C. Reeve. Indianapolis: Hackett.
- Jowett, Benjamin (1871). Plato: The Republic. http://gutenberg.org: Project Gutenberg.
- Larson, Raymond (1979). Plato: The Republic. Wheeling: Harlan Davidson.
- Lindsay, A.D. (1906). Plato: The Republic. London: J.M. Dent.
- Reeve, C.D.C. (2004). Plato: The Republic. Indianapolis: Hackett.
- Sachs, Joe (2007). Plato: Republic. Newburyport: Focus Publishing.
- Shorey, Paul (1930). Plato: Republic. Edited, translated, with notes and an introduction. London: W. Heinemann.
- Sterling, Richard W.; Scott, William C. (1985). Plato: Republic. London: W. W. Norton & Company.
- Waterfield, Robin (1994). Plato: Republic. Translated, with notes and an introduction. Oxford: Oxford World's Classics.

Melchior
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Re: Good Translation for Plato's Republic?

Post by Melchior » Mon Apr 28, 2014 3:59 pm

Theawesomemanman wrote:Okay so right now I have this translation

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Republ ... e+republic

I have the Barnes and Noble Classic series version.

I've read many reviews that it isn't a good translation. I agree with that, I'm trying to read it, but I find myself annoyed with way the book is written, not the book itself.

I was wondering, do you know any translations that are SIMPLE and EASY TO UNDERSTAND.

I don't like translations/books that have difficult vocabulary. I don't like having to look up in the dictionary every word I read, it gets old pretty quickly.

I also don't like reading translations that say things in weird ways like for example "Happy are you not?", and writing styles similar to Shakespeare and Old English. I like writing styles that are modern, simple, and easy to understand.

I want to focus as much attention as possible on the actual material of the book and little to no attention at all to how it is written. I simply don't care about sophisticated writing. I like simple and easy writing.

So I was wondering, do you guys know of any translations for Plato's Republic that is easy to understand and doesn't have lots of complicated vocabulary?
What you want is not that simple. It's simply not possible.

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i_another
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Re: Good Translation for Plato's Republic?

Post by i_another » Mon May 12, 2014 5:21 pm

Theawesomemanman wrote:So I was wondering, do you guys know of any translations for Plato's Republic that is easy to understand and doesn't have lots of complicated vocabulary?
I second Metadigital's recommendation of Bloom's translation. When it comes to ancient Greek texts, the challenge is to find the right balance between readability and literality; however, if you must lean in one direction more than the other, I'd suggest leaning toward literality. This does not mean you have to obtain a translation that uses archaic language (e.g., thou, hath, and so on), but you may need to keep a pencil handy (for note-taking) and be prepared to read slowly and carefully. As a dramatic writer, Plato almost certainly engaged in subtle wordplay; and if you lean too far toward "readable" translations, you'll likely miss out on some of the incredible substance buried within the dialogues.

Take, for example, two otherwise ordinary passages from The Republic, specifically the moment at which Polemarchus accosts Socrates in Book I:

Polemarchus: ὦ Σώκρατες, δοκεῖτέ μοι πρὸς ἄστυ ὡρμῆσθαι ὡς ἀπιόντες.
Socrates: οὐ γὰρ κακῶς δοξάζεις.

Now, here are some ways in which this exchange has been translated:
Allan Bloom, trans.

"Socrates, I guess you two are hurrying to get away to town."
"That's not a bad guess."

G.M.A. Grube, trans.

"It looks to me, Socrates, as if you two are starting off for Athens."
"It looks the way it is, then."

Benjamin Jowett, trans.

"I perceive, Socrates, that you and our companion are already on your way to the city."
"You are not far wrong."
Of the three, I find Bloom's translation to be the most satisfactory, Grube's second, and Jowett's third. My complaint with Jowett's translation of these lines is that he chooses to overlook the similarity in the verbs δοκεῖτέ (spoken by Polemarchus) and δοξάζεις (spoken by Socrates). Both words derive from the single root verb δοκέιν, meaning "to think," "to suppose," "to imagine," or "to expect." It also conveys a sense of seeming or appearing to be. Superficially, then, we might say that Socrates is exhibiting a certain playfulness by mimicking Polemarchus's choice of words. However, on a deeper level we might note the foreshadowing of a dialogue whose content will center heavily on the opinions of others. The ancient Greek word for "opinion" is δόξα.

Grube's translation hits closer to the mark by using the verb "looks" in both lines. However, he also engages in some creative liberty in both lines. First, Polemarchus nowhere in his dialogue refers specifically to Athens; rather, he says "πρὸς ἄστυ," in which πρὸς means "toward" and ἄστυ, which is not a proper noun, means "city" or "town." Second, his translation of Socrates' response is far too wordy and entirely omits a translation of the word κακῶς.

Bloom's translation of Socrates' response is more accurate, but still not as good as it might be. (In my humble opinion, of course; for who am I to question the eminent Allan Bloom?) My complaint with Bloom's choice of words in the second line comes down to his decision to convert the verb δοξάζεις into the English noun "a guess." In fact, κακῶς δοξάζεις is a verb-adverb pairing and, in my opinion, should be translated "think/suppose/imagine/etc. badly." Thus, I would translate Socrates' entire line like this: "You certainly don't guess badly." I think this rendition (which is more literal) helps to foreshadow that nature of opinion and its relation to ignorance and absolute truth.

Anyway, just my two cents on the matter.
Last edited by i_another on Tue May 13, 2014 2:17 am, edited 2 times in total.

Melchior
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Re: Good Translation for Plato's Republic?

Post by Melchior » Mon May 12, 2014 9:34 pm

i_another wrote:
Theawesomemanman wrote:So I was wondering, do you guys know of any translations for Plato's Republic that is easy to understand and doesn't have lots of complicated vocabulary?
I second Metadigital's recommendation of Bloom's translation. When it comes to ancient Greek texts, the challenge is to find the right balance between readability and literality; however, if you must lean in one direction more than the other, I'd suggest leaning toward literality. This does not mean you have to obtain a translation that uses archaic language (e.g., thou, hath, and so on), but you may need to keep a pencil handy (for note-taking) and be prepared to read slowly and carefully. As a dramatic writer, Plato almost certainly engaged in subtle wordplay; and if you lean too far toward "readable" translations, you'll likely miss out on some of the incredible substance buried within the dialogues.

Take, for example, two otherwise ordinary passages from The Republic, specifically the moment at which Polemarchus accosts Socrates in Book I:

Polemarchus: ὦ Σώκρατες, δοκεῖτέ μοι πρὸς ἄστυ ὡρμῆσθαι ὡς ἀπιόντες.
Socrates: οὐ γὰρ κακῶς δοξάζεις.

Now, here are some ways in which this exchange has been translated:
Allan Bloom, trans.

"Socrates, I guess you two are hurrying to get away to town."
"That's not a bad guess."

G.M.A. Grube, trans.

"It looks to me, Socrates, as if you two are starting off for Athens."
"It looks the way it is, then."

Desmond Lee, trans.

"I perceive, Socrates, that you and our companion are already on your way to the city."
"You are not far wrong."
Of the three, I find Bloom's translation to be the most satisfactory, Grube's second, and Lee's third. My complaint with Lee's translation of these lines is that he chooses to overlook the similarity in the verbs δοκεῖτέ (spoken by Polemarchus) and δοξάζεις (spoken by Socrates). Both words derive from the single root verb δοκέιν, meaning "to think," "to suppose," "to imagine," or "to expect." It also conveys a sense of seeming or appearing to be. Superficially, then, we might say that Socrates is exhibiting a certain playfulness by mimicking Polemarchus's choice of words. However, on a deeper level we might note the foreshadowing of a dialogue whose content will center heavily on the opinions of others. The ancient Greek word for "opinion" is δόξα.

Grube's translation hits closer to the mark by using the verb "looks" in both lines. However, he also engages in some creative liberty in both lines. First, Polemarchus nowhere in his dialogue refers specifically to Athens; rather, he says "πρὸς ἄστυ," in which πρὸς means "toward" and ἄστυ, which is not a proper noun, means "city" or "town." Second, his translation of Socrates' response is far too wordy and entirely omits a translation of the word κακῶς.

Bloom's translation of Socrates' response is more accurate, but still not as good as it might be. (In my humble opinion, of course; for who am I to question the eminent Allan Bloom?) My complaint with Bloom's choice of words in the second line comes down to his decision to convert the verb δοξάζεις into the English noun "a guess." In fact, κακῶς δοξάζεις is a verb-adverb pairing and, in my opinion, should be translated "think/suppose/imagine/etc. badly." Thus, I would translate Socrates' entire line like this: "You certainly don't guess badly." I think this rendition (which is more literal) helps to foreshadow that nature of opinion and its relation to ignorance and absolute truth.

Anyway, just my two cents on the matter.
Bloom's ideas of translation are entirely wrong, and "literal" translations are a farce. His translations of the Republic should be banned.

Melchior
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Re: Good Translation for Plato's Republic?

Post by Melchior » Mon May 12, 2014 9:35 pm

i_another wrote:
Theawesomemanman wrote:So I was wondering, do you guys know of any translations for Plato's Republic that is easy to understand and doesn't have lots of complicated vocabulary?
I second Metadigital's recommendation of Bloom's translation. When it comes to ancient Greek texts, the challenge is to find the right balance between readability and literality; however, if you must lean in one direction more than the other, I'd suggest leaning toward literality. This does not mean you have to obtain a translation that uses archaic language (e.g., thou, hath, and so on), but you may need to keep a pencil handy (for note-taking) and be prepared to read slowly and carefully. As a dramatic writer, Plato almost certainly engaged in subtle wordplay; and if you lean too far toward "readable" translations, you'll likely miss out on some of the incredible substance buried within the dialogues.

Take, for example, two otherwise ordinary passages from The Republic, specifically the moment at which Polemarchus accosts Socrates in Book I:

Polemarchus: ὦ Σώκρατες, δοκεῖτέ μοι πρὸς ἄστυ ὡρμῆσθαι ὡς ἀπιόντες.
Socrates: οὐ γὰρ κακῶς δοξάζεις.

Now, here are some ways in which this exchange has been translated:
Allan Bloom, trans.

"Socrates, I guess you two are hurrying to get away to town."
"That's not a bad guess."

G.M.A. Grube, trans.

"It looks to me, Socrates, as if you two are starting off for Athens."
"It looks the way it is, then."

Desmond Lee, trans.

"I perceive, Socrates, that you and our companion are already on your way to the city."
"You are not far wrong."
Of the three, I find Bloom's translation to be the most satisfactory, Grube's second, and Lee's third. My complaint with Lee's translation of these lines is that he chooses to overlook the similarity in the verbs δοκεῖτέ (spoken by Polemarchus) and δοξάζεις (spoken by Socrates). Both words derive from the single root verb δοκέιν, meaning "to think," "to suppose," "to imagine," or "to expect." It also conveys a sense of seeming or appearing to be. Superficially, then, we might say that Socrates is exhibiting a certain playfulness by mimicking Polemarchus's choice of words. However, on a deeper level we might note the foreshadowing of a dialogue whose content will center heavily on the opinions of others. The ancient Greek word for "opinion" is δόξα.

Grube's translation hits closer to the mark by using the verb "looks" in both lines. However, he also engages in some creative liberty in both lines. First, Polemarchus nowhere in his dialogue refers specifically to Athens; rather, he says "πρὸς ἄστυ," in which πρὸς means "toward" and ἄστυ, which is not a proper noun, means "city" or "town." Second, his translation of Socrates' response is far too wordy and entirely omits a translation of the word κακῶς.

Bloom's translation of Socrates' response is more accurate, but still not as good as it might be. (In my humble opinion, of course; for who am I to question the eminent Allan Bloom?) My complaint with Bloom's choice of words in the second line comes down to his decision to convert the verb δοξάζεις into the English noun "a guess." In fact, κακῶς δοξάζεις is a verb-adverb pairing and, in my opinion, should be translated "think/suppose/imagine/etc. badly." Thus, I would translate Socrates' entire line like this: "You certainly don't guess badly." I think this rendition (which is more literal) helps to foreshadow that nature of opinion and its relation to ignorance and absolute truth.

Anyway, just my two cents on the matter.
Eminent? How can you possibly think Bloom knows anything at all about translation? And your comments betray a complete misunderstanding of the nature of translation.
Last edited by Melchior on Mon May 12, 2014 10:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Melchior
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Re: Good Translation for Plato's Republic?

Post by Melchior » Mon May 12, 2014 9:45 pm

i_another wrote:
Theawesomemanman wrote:So I was wondering, do you guys know of any translations for Plato's Republic that is easy to understand and doesn't have lots of complicated vocabulary?
Take, for example, two otherwise ordinary passages from The Republic, specifically the moment at which Polemarchus accosts Socrates in Book I:

Polemarchus: ὦ Σώκρατες, δοκεῖτέ μοι πρὸς ἄστυ ὡρμῆσθαι ὡς ἀπιόντες.
Socrates: οὐ γὰρ κακῶς δοξάζεις.

Now, here are some ways in which this exchange has been translated:
Allan Bloom, trans.

"Socrates, I guess you two are hurrying to get away to town."
"That's not a bad guess."

G.M.A. Grube, trans.

"It looks to me, Socrates, as if you two are starting off for Athens."
"It looks the way it is, then."

Desmond Lee, trans.

"I perceive, Socrates, that you and our companion are already on your way to the city."
"You are not far wrong."

Jowett trans, 1892:

"Polemarchus said to me: I perceive, Socrates, that you and your companion are already on your way to the city.

"You are not far wrong, I said."

It looks like Lee copied Jowett here verbatim. Are you sure that's Lee's?

The complete Jowett, 3rd edition:

http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/plato ... -jowett-ed
Last edited by Melchior on Mon May 12, 2014 9:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Melchior
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Re: Good Translation for Plato's Republic?

Post by Melchior » Mon May 12, 2014 9:49 pm

Richard Baron wrote:I could not get the link to work, but the ISBN in the link appears to be for a reprint of the Jowett translation. If that is so, I can understand your difficulty. That translation is from the nineteenth century.

Which means it's better than new ones. Scholars can't write anymore.
There are plenty of more modern translations available.
Which means they are bad.

I would suggest going into a bookshop or a library and browsing through a few of them. Only you can tell which style will suit you.
No need to do that. Jowett's is the best overall.

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