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zompist bboard • View topic - Greek and Roman gods names

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 04, 2017 11:07 pm 
Avisaru
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In Pope's translations of Homer, the king of the gods is called "Jove". It's the same in Samuel Butler's 1900 translations. By at least 1938, Rouse was calling him "Zeus" and as far as I know it's been that way ever since.

You see this also in movies. I can't think of an easy example off-hand except for Kirk Douglas' Ulysses in 1954, but it seems that the farther back you go, the more likely it is that people know these characters by their Roman names. Nowadays, it's the other way around: it's a safe bet that most on-the-street normies are familiar with at least a few of the Greek gods but only by their Greek names.

Except for Hercules. He's the one exception.

Evidently there was a transition in the twentieth century, but I don't know exactly when or why it happened. I'm guessing it might have had something to do with the space program, but I don't know-- that was too late for 1938 anyway. Might anyone, particularly people who remember the yonder decades before my time, have any insights regarding this?

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2017 12:26 am 
Avisaru
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My experience is that people know a smattering of both, and generally couldn't tell you whether they're Greek or Roman. (Besides, the planets are Roman, and Mercury and Apollo are both Roman)


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2017 1:35 am 
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My random, unsupported thought is that it may be related to the decline of education in classical languages. I believe Latin was usually taught more widely and at younger ages than Greek. If you are used to reading Latin texts, and in particular stuff like Ovid's Metamorphoses that uses Latin names of Greek gods, it may seem more natural to use the Latin-based names in English. But if you can't read Latin, neither set of names will be more familiar from things that you have read.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2017 5:33 am 
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2017 7:51 am 
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 5:45 am 
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 8:06 am 
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Maybe Graecum stopped being so non legitur? Might also have something to do with archaeological finds from around the ancient world.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 12:57 pm 
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Apparently there was a major craze for Homer-translating in the 1860s. Matthew Arnold wrote an influential paper on it, which lead to controversies, and it became a significant intellectual topic of the decade. Apparently, there was a sort of society of people who hung out at Tennyson's house and argued about Homeric translation - including Tennyson, Arnold, Palgrave, and the Prime Minister, Gladstone, as well as various poets and academics. One of the things they debated was whether to go with "Zeus" or "Jove". If you look at translations from this era, some go one way and some the other, but from that point on they tend in the direction of "Zeus". This 1860s era would match CJS' findings.

So I think that the key was just people starting to look at translation critically. Until Arnold kicked off that round of interest, the Iliad in english was synonymous with Pope, with a side-order of Chapman and Dryden for the particularly erudite, so naturally any other translation that did appear paid very heavy homage to those versions - if you think people got upset today about making the ghostbusters female, imagine what would happen if someone desecrated one of the most sacred works of English literature by changing all the names to new names nobody had ever heard of!

Specifically, the earliest I can find with "Zeus" is J.H. Dart's translation from 1862, written in response to Arnold and using Arnold's suggest metre - though I don't know whether Arnold's paper specifically comments on the naming issue.


"Hades" was around longer, presumably because it was a place, which "Pluto" never was. Although it's amusing to see translators struggle with trying to avoid using 'Hades' as a placename. From Wikipedia we get (for the first mention, where Achilles hurls the souls down to Hades):
"Plutoes courte"
"that invisible cave that no light comforts" (Chapman)
"the Stygian coasts"
"Erebus"
"Shades of Night" (Dryden)
"Pluto's gloomy reign" (Pope)
"th'infernal coast"
"the regions of death"
"Ades" (finally - Cowper, 1791, noted for his literalness)
"the shades" (ah, a Pratchett fan!)
"the realms of night"
"the infernal regions"
"Pluto" (Brandreth, biting the bullet)

Before Buckley, 1851, finally gives us modern "Hades", which almost all subsequent versions abide by (Derby tried "the viewless shades", but you can get away with that sort of thing when you're the Prime Minister, as Trump didn't quite say). Kudos, however, to FW Newman, who went for the far more pretentious "Aïdes" instead. On the other hand, Newman also had the bodies of the dead being eaten by "fowl", so...

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 1:06 pm 
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I generally forget to say, so if it's relevant and I don't mention it--I'm from Southern Michigan and speak Inland North American English. Yes, I have the Northern Cities Vowel Shift; no, I don't have the cot-caught merger; and it is called pop.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 2:32 am 
Avisaru
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>Although it's amusing to see translators struggle with trying to avoid using 'Hades' as a placename.

Sorry, I don't follow, why did they do that?? :?:


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 2:35 pm 
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 7:30 am 
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tbh I'm most familiar with the Greek names because the Percy Jackson books came out when I was in grade school.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 11:48 am 
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 1:32 pm 
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Does it help to a small degree that it really was high school? I was a teenager, at least! (the first book did come out when I was still in eighth grade, hence "grade school", but only the first one)

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I generally forget to say, so if it's relevant and I don't mention it--I'm from Southern Michigan and speak Inland North American English. Yes, I have the Northern Cities Vowel Shift; no, I don't have the cot-caught merger; and it is called pop.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 6:39 pm 
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 7:42 pm 
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 3:18 pm 
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 3:52 pm 
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2017 3:52 pm 
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Recently I was re-watching I, Claudius which uses both Greek & Roman names, Mars Field in Rome never gets called Ares Field, but the actual gods seem to depend on context.

This is possibly a translation convention as Greek was considered a more "classy" language to the Romans & most educated people would have a decent knowledge of it.


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