August 13, 2003
Worst. Translations. Ever.

In one of his reviews (Classical Papers, 2.517), A. E. Housman quotes two famously bad literal translations of passages of ancient literature:

Some bald renderings there are which even scholars will pardon: when Mr Paley sings 'It is present to me to feel the chill, the very severe chill, of a hostile public executioner', or Mr Buckley 'They cut off his ears and nostrils with the sharp brass; but he, injured in his feelings, went about, enduring that calamity with a frantic mind', scholars are as grateful as other folk; . . . .

I've run across the originals of both passages, but can no longer remember where, though I think the first is from Aeschylus, either Libation-Bearers or Eumenides.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at August 13, 2003 11:26 PM