the text of shelley's translation of the 'symposium' of plato

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  • The Text of Shelley's Translation of the 'Symposium' of PlatoAuthor(s): B. FarringtonSource: The Modern Language Review, Vol. 14, No. 3 (Jul., 1919), pp. 325-326Published by: Modern Humanities Research AssociationStable URL: .Accessed: 28/06/2014 10:48

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  • Miscellaneous Notes 325



    Shelley made many blunders in his translations. But in the text of his version of the Symposium there are several mistakes evidently to be ascribed to the maker of the transcript for publication from Shelley's MS. The text of Shelley's original works has been thoroughly can- vassed in recent years. But with the exception of Swinburne's discussion of the text of the Cyclops, which involved some reference to the Greek, his translations would appear to have escaped attention. It is true that Buxton Forman in his edition of the Prose Works quotes once or twice from the Greek of the Symposium. But he cannot have made any close comparison between Shelley's version and the original. This task the present writer has attempted to perform, and, as result, suggests the following corrections in the text as at present printed. No discussion is here attempted of Shelley's mistranslations. That is quite another matter. The references are given to the universally accepted paging of the Greek.

    176 B. The proper name Acumenus is spelt Acumenius. Elsewhere it is correctly given.

    187 c. Ka' oLvTv

    ai /Jovolc7 rrept apltovlav al /pv EPv 6pctKwICV

    6drtorTrlgv. The translation runs: 'Music is then the knowledge of that

    which relates to love in harmony and system.' The last word should be 'rhythm,' translating

    v66v. 5vLodv occurs again in the next line and is correctly translated 'rhythm.' But two lines farther on the rendering 'system' again appears. Shelley may have misspelt it 'rythm,' which would make the resemblance to 'system' very close in his MS.

    190 c. /ayt9 8 ~ ZEIv' vvorjoaw X.eT.... The English version here

    is flat nonsense: 'Juppiter with some difficulty having desired silence, at length spoke.' It was the absurdity of this sentence which first sent the present writer to the Greek. Obviously Shelley wrote 'having devised a scheme.' The words 'scheme' and 'silence' would be readily confused in Shelley's script.

    191 D. A o7rEp at rrTat. Shelley intended merely to transliterate this word. But it is printed 'pselta'in his version, which is not a word at all.

    208 A.' has Tp KaXetwrat iceXETalv, md

    Elto?actio th'T Trcs E7rtofT?7rL?7. Shelley has: 'That which is called meditation, or the exercise of memory,

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  • 326 Miscellaneous Notes

    is the science of the escape or departure of memory.' The last word should be 'knowledge,' translating drra7rj' .

    209 c. aTe KcaXXLtvwov Kaca davarw7rpor wai&wov KcoLv(rOnKOTce. The English version runs: 'As being the common parents of a lovelier and more endearing progeny.' For' endearing' read 'enduring,' trans- lating d avawrOE'powv.

    222 E. o'tera[l ov ~e~v 7ravTaXy reptetvat. The English runs: 'He thinks to subdue every way.' Insert 'me' after 'subdue.'

    It is not an easy matter to decide to what extent Mrs Shelley and her literary advisers retouched the text of Shelley's translations. But in the above instances it is clear that Shelley's version has been made to suffer for blemishes for which he was either not responsible, or which more efficient editing would have removed.




    De Mon. 11, 5, Romanum Imperium de fonte nascitur pietatis. Cp. Ep. v, 3, et maiestas eius de fonte defluat pietatis.

    Dr Toynbee (Studies, pp. 297 sq.) has pointed out that the words occur in the legend of S. Silvester contained in the legenda Aurea of J. de Voragine: adding ' It is, of course, possible that both Dante and J. de Voragine drew the expression from a common source, but prolonged research has so far failed to discover such a source.'

    The ultimate source of the words is the Actus beati Silvestri. These Acts are mentioned in the pseudo-Gelasian index of libri recipiendi (Mansi, Concilia, viiI, 153 sqq.), and were one of the sources of the Donation of Constantine (ib. 1i, 603 sqq.). They were printed at Milan in about 1480 in the Sanctuarium of Mombritius, ii, ff. 279r sqq. (reprinted by the Benedictines of Solesmes, Paris, 1910). The origin of the Acts is discussed by Mgr Duchesne in Liber Pontificalis, I, pp. cix sqq.; and he concludes that the nucleus was written in the East and was worked up in Rome late in the fifth century.

    Now these Actus were read for the Matins Lessons of the feast of S. Silvester, Dec. 31, and were therefore included in the Passionale or Legenda Sanctorum. But they are of considerable length; and con- sequently when the Breviarium was compiled, so as to include the whole Divine Service for the year in a single volume, they, like the other

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    Article Contentsp. 325p. 326

    Issue Table of ContentsThe Modern Language Review, Vol. 14, No. 3 (Jul., 1919), pp. 233-352Front Matter [pp. ]Animal and Personal Names in O.E. Place-Names [pp. 233-244]The Authorship of 'Grim, the Collier of Croydon' [pp. 245-253]Charles Fitzgeffrey, Poet and Divine [pp. 254-270]The First Draft of Swinburne's 'Anactoria' [pp. 271-277]Dante's Letter to Can Grande (Epist. X). Emended Text [pp. 278-302]A Theory of the Development of Language [pp. 303-319]Miscellaneous NotesOn Richard Roll's Lyrics [pp. 320-321]Titus Andronicus [pp. 322-323]Tha Date of 'The Return from Parnassus, Part II' [pp. 324]The Text of Shelley's Translation of the 'Symposium' of Plato [pp. 325-326]Some Dante Notes [pp. 326-330]A Letter from Ottilie Von Goethe to Sarah Austin [pp. 330-333]

    ReviewsReview: untitled [pp. 334-335]Review: untitled [pp. 335-338]Review: untitled [pp. 339-340]Review: untitled [pp. 341-343]Review: untitled [pp. 343-346]Review: untitled [pp. 346-347]Review: untitled [pp. 347-348]Review: untitled [pp. 348-349]

    Minor Notices [pp. 349-352]