Translating Plato: what gets lost in translation?

Now, at the end of the term, I have finally finished the paper for which I was reading Allan Bloom on translating Plato.  My paper, “Justice In Translation: Rendering Platonic Drama in English,” analyzes Plato’s characterization of Crito and Socrates in the Crito.  Through an examination of each character’s style of speaking in particles, syntax, and forms of address, I conclude that Plato’s dramatic portrait of each character is inseparable from the philosophical arguments contained in the dialogue.  For Plato, poetry and philosophy, form and content, are one.  (Imagine what Plato would be like if he had wrote treatises rather than dialogues!)  In the second part, I look at six contemporary translations, and I find that none of them render Plato’s literary element in a satisfactory way.  They seem to be focused only on the content of each character’s arguments.

Anyway, if you’re interested, my paper is here.  It was fine to write because it pushed my philological skills, and it made me look at the Greek particles systematically (and use Denniston) for the first time.

2 thoughts on “Translating Plato: what gets lost in translation?

  1. Claude Vigneau

    I just finished reading your paper…and enjoying it. Great work. Made me think about doing some work on the french translations of ce cher Platon si mal traduit…


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