Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Hobbit in Ancient Greek, paragraph 5


Ἀνέρχομενος τῳ μύθευματι. Ἡ μήτηρ τοῦ ὅββιτου τούτου, Βίλβου Βάγινου,  ἦν  θαυμάστη Βελλαδόννα Τούκ, μιᾶ τῶν τρεῖς ἀξιόλογων θυγατέρων τοῦ Τούκ τοῦ Πρεσβύτου, ἀρχόντος τῶν ὅββιτων τῶν κατοικούντων πέραν Τοῦ Ὕδατος, τοῦ ποταμοῦ τοῦ μίκρου τοῦ ῥευσάντος ὑπὸ Τῷ Ὄρει. Ἐρρέθη πολλάκις ἐν ἑτεραῖς ταῖς οἰκίαις ὅτι εἷς τῶν πατρών τῶν Τούκων ὄντως ἔλαβεν δρυάδα εἰς γυναίκα. Τούτ’ἔστιν ὄντως ἀνόητος, ἀλλὰ ἔτι ἀληθως ἦσαν οὐκ παντώς ὅββιτικοι ἐν φύσει. ἐλθόντες δὲ  ἐνίοτε Τούκιται ἔσχον τόλμηματα. Ἠφανίσαντο ἀδήλως καὶ ἡ οἰκία αὐτῶν ἐσίγησαν τὸ χρῆμα. Ἐν ἀληθείᾳ οἱ Τούκιται οὐκ ἦσαν εὔκοσμοι ὡς οἱ Βάγινοι, ἐάν καὶ δήλως πλούσιωτεροι. Βελλαδόννα δὲ Τούκ οὐ μή ἔσχεν τόλμηματα γένουσα ἡ γυνή τοῦ Βύγγου Βάγινου.

[As I was saying, the mother of this hobbit - of Bilbo Baggins, that is - was the fabulous Belladonna Took, one of the three remarkable daughters of the Old Took, head of the hobbits who lived across The Water, the small river that ran at the foot of The Hill. It was often said (in other families) that
long ago one of the Took ancestors must have taken a fairy wife. That was, of course, absurd, but certainly there was still something not entirely hobbit-like about them, - and once in a while members of the Took-clan would go and have adventures. They discreetly disappeared, and the family hushed it up; but the fact remained that the Tooks were not as respectable as the Bagginses, though they were undoubtedly richer. Not that Belladonna Took ever had any adventures after she became Mrs. Bungo Baggins]

Translation notes
Picking appropriate Greek equivalents for fantasy creatures is not always easy. Some I have to make up, while others already have an equivalent in Greek mythology. Here I have decided to use δρύας to translate fairy. In an earlier paragraph, I used νάνοι for dwarves. But I decided to transliterate hobbit as ὅββιτος. Perhaps I might translate halflings as ἥμιται? (actually, I don't think Tolkien used the term halfling until LOTR) I'm not sure yet what words I will use for elves, trolls and goblins.

Another important word I had to choose was adventure. τόλμημα seems like the best choice, although readers of Hellenistic Greek will notice that it does not have quite the same feel as our English word. 


  • Βίλβος = Bilbo
  • Βελλαδόννα = Belladonna
  • Τούκ = Took
  • Τούκιτης  = a Tookite or member of the Took clan
  • Βύγγος = Bungo
  • δρύας = fairy (dryad in ancient Greek)

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