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PostPosted: Tue Apr 04, 2017 11:07 pm 
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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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Xephyr wrote:
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?


I think you're talking about two processes:
a) realising that maybe it makes more sense to call Greek gods by Greek names
b) remembering that Roman gods have Roman names

For a), I don't know, although Sumelic's argument might work. It's probably also generally associated with the gradual rise of 'true-name-ism', the process whereby (first) different translations of a name came to be seen as different names, only one of which could be the true name, and (then) there was a growing conviction that the 'native' names for things were the true name. You see the same process in the names of people and of places (even when sometimes the 'native' name has had to be invented retrospectively from the original colonial name).

For b), it's hard to say, although probably a factor is that a lot of the mythology we still remember is specifically about Greece (Theseus, Jason, etc), or directly from the Greek (like Homer), whereas there are few distinctively Roman myths or memorable Roman works - the Aeniad and the Metamorphosis are much less known these days. I think you may also be right that increasing knowledge of space has played a part as well - it's harder to take "Neptune" or "Venus" seriously as gods when you've seen photographs of them...

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2017 7:51 am 
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Salmoneus wrote:
whereas there are few distinctively Roman myths or memorable Roman works - the Aeniad and the Metamorphosis are much less known these days.
Aeneid. Metamorphoses.

They truly are. :(

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 5:45 am 
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Xephyr wrote:
Except for Hercules. He's the one exception.


Mars, Vulcan and Saturn might be others that people are still more familiar with the Roman names?

Google Ngrams, while obviously only a blunt instrument, suggests that some of the Greek names (Zeus, Aphrodite, Athena, Dionysus, Poisedon) started to become a lot more frequent in English around the mid-1800s, gaining frequency from then on, sometimes at the expense of the Roman form. But others (Hermes, Hades) have been around in English much longer. In the present day it tends to be either the Roman form that is still more frequent, or else the Greek and Roman forms occur about as much as each other.

EDIT: I've written a blog post on this, if anyone's interested.

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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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Salmoneus wrote:
On the other hand, Newman also had the bodies of the dead being eaten by "fowl", so...


how foul

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 2:32 am 
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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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Curlyjimsam wrote:
Mars, Vulcan and Saturn might be others that people are still more familiar with the Roman names?

I dunno, man, maybe my experience doesn't track with others since I grew upon Herc 'n Xena in the 90s, but I certainly don't see that for Mars and Saturn. Maybe for Vulcan, just because it sounds like "volcano" and so is easy to remember. Google NGrams, for obvious enough reasons, also isn't much help here.


Salmoneus wrote:
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!

This is a good way of looking at it. I used to be pretty unsympathetic to the Roman-names school ("The Greek gods have Greek names, dummy!", etc.), but recently I've come around a bit after looking at a couple more recent translations of Greek literature. Sure, it's one thing to go back and forth over whether the father of the gods is named "Cronus" or "Kronos", or to worry about whether there's a u in the name "Achille[u]s".... but what do you do when you come across a word like "Kyklops"? How am I even supposed to pronounce that? [kaɪklɒps]?!? That kind of thing makes the Accuracy-in-Transliteration argument seem less persuasive. Then there's this guy, who employs such gems as "Olumpos" ([əlʌmpos]?)...I suppose it's only a matter of time now until someone graces us with a "Zdeus"...

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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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alynnidalar wrote:
the Percy Jackson books came out when I was in grade school.


I feel old.


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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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PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 6:39 pm 
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Xephyr wrote:
Curlyjimsam wrote:
Mars, Vulcan and Saturn might be others that people are still more familiar with the Roman names?

I dunno, man, maybe my experience doesn't track with others since I grew upon Herc 'n Xena in the 90s, but I certainly don't see that for Mars and Saturn. Maybe for Vulcan, just because it sounds like "volcano" and so is easy to remember. Google NGrams, for obvious enough reasons, also isn't much help here.

I have hard time believing people are more familiar with Ares and Kronos than Mars and Saturn (if for no other reason than the planets), and Vulcan and Hephaestus are probably both relatively obscure. People might recognize "Vulcan" thanks to Star Trek (perhaps more so now than a few years ago thanks to JJTrek), but that has nothing to do with the god.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 7:42 pm 
Avisaru
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alynnidalar wrote:
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)


Ah. To me, "grade school" is synonymous with "elementary school", which means at oldest 5th grade (that is, 11 years old).

Saying it was middle/high school doesn't make me feel older, though; they were all the rage in the middle/high school youth group my spouse and I helped lead when we were first married.

As a side note, I thought it was an interesting way Riordan meshed the Greek and Roman mythologies together as the books went on.


I don't know how popular the Percy Jackson books were outside of Young Adults at the time, though.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 3:18 pm 
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Zaarin wrote:
Xephyr wrote:
Curlyjimsam wrote:
Mars, Vulcan and Saturn might be others that people are still more familiar with the Roman names?

I dunno, man, maybe my experience doesn't track with others since I grew upon Herc 'n Xena in the 90s, but I certainly don't see that for Mars and Saturn. Maybe for Vulcan, just because it sounds like "volcano" and so is easy to remember. Google NGrams, for obvious enough reasons, also isn't much help here.

I have hard time believing people are more familiar with Ares and Kronos than Mars and Saturn (if for no other reason than the planets), and Vulcan and Hephaestus are probably both relatively obscure. People might recognize "Vulcan" thanks to Star Trek (perhaps more so now than a few years ago thanks to JJTrek), but that has nothing to do with the god.

I'm not talking about the planets, though-- how many people know that "Saturn" is the name of a celestial body is irrelevant to the question of how many people prefer it as the name of a divinity to "Cronus" (which is exactly what you seem to be saying wrt "Vulcan"...) This is why Google NGrams isn't useful: all it does is count the tokens.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 3:52 pm 
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Xephyr wrote:
Zaarin wrote:
Xephyr wrote:
Curlyjimsam wrote:
Mars, Vulcan and Saturn might be others that people are still more familiar with the Roman names?

I dunno, man, maybe my experience doesn't track with others since I grew upon Herc 'n Xena in the 90s, but I certainly don't see that for Mars and Saturn. Maybe for Vulcan, just because it sounds like "volcano" and so is easy to remember. Google NGrams, for obvious enough reasons, also isn't much help here.

I have hard time believing people are more familiar with Ares and Kronos than Mars and Saturn (if for no other reason than the planets), and Vulcan and Hephaestus are probably both relatively obscure. People might recognize "Vulcan" thanks to Star Trek (perhaps more so now than a few years ago thanks to JJTrek), but that has nothing to do with the god.

I'm not talking about the planets, though-- how many people know that "Saturn" is the name of a celestial body is irrelevant to the question of how many people prefer it as the name of a divinity to "Cronus" (which is exactly what you seem to be saying wrt "Vulcan"...) This is why Google NGrams isn't useful: all it does is count the tokens.

Fair, but like Hephaestus/Vulcan, I would expect that most of the Titans other than Gaia, Atlas, and Prometheus are also relatively obscure to lay people. Names like Hyperion and Helios show up fairly regularly in sci-fi (most recently I could point to both of those + Eos in the abominable Mass Effect: Andromeda), but I'd question whether many people could say anything meaningful about the gods behind the names.

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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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