Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Hobbit in Αncient Greek (paragraph 1)



ὁ ὅββιτος

ἐκεῖ και ἐνθάδε πάλιν
ὑπὸ Ἰ.Ρ.Ρ. Τόλκιενου

Α΄ Δοχή Ἀπροσδόκητη

Ἐν τρώγλῃ ἐν τῃ γῃ κατῴκισεν ὅββιτος. οὐ τρώγλη ταλαίπωρη καὶ ῥυπαρὰ καὶ ψεκάδα πεπληρώμενη δὲ μέρεσιν σκώληκων καὶ ὀσμῃ ἰλύῃ, οὐδε τρώγλη ξήρα καὶ ἀμμώδη κενή χώρις τινος ἐν ᾧ καθήσθαι ἤ ὃ ἐσθίειν. ἦν γὰρ ὅββιτοτρώγλη, καὶ τούτο ἔστιν τρυφόν. 


[In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.]

ἥς ἦν ἡ θύρα κύκλη τελείως ὥς θυρίδα πλοῖου, γραπτὴ χλωρῷ, πυρηνίδι χαλκοῦ στίλβοντος χανθού ἐν τῷ μεσῷ τῷ ἀκριβεῖ. ἡ θύρα ἤγαγεν ἐπ’ αὐλῆς σωληνοειδεώς ὡς ὑπόνομος; ὑπόνομος σφόδρα τρυφόν χώρις καπνοῦ, κοιλόσταθμον, ὑποκέραμον, συν τάπησιν και καθέδραις εὐξεσταίς και πάσσαλοις πολλοὶς σφόδρα εἰς πέτασους και ἱμάτια - ὁ γάρ ὅββιτος ἐφίλει ξένους. διήκε ὁ ὑπόνομος μακροτέραν καὶ μακροτέραν ἑλικτός εὐθύς σχεδὸν ἀλλ’ οὐκ ἀκριβωμένως εἰς τὴν κλιτύν τοῦ ὄρους – Τὸ Ὄρος, ὡς αὐτὸ ἐκάλεσαν πάντες οἱ κατοικοῦντες ἐπί πολλά στάδια – καὶ θυρίδες μικραί πολλαὶ ἦσαν καὶ ἐν δεξιᾷ καὶ ἐν ἀριστερᾷ. οὐκ ἔδει ἀναβαίνειν τὸν ὅββιτον ἀναβαθμούς: κοιμητήρια, βαλανεῖα, ἀποθήκαι, ἀρτοθήκαι (πολλαί αὐτών), ἱματιοθήκαι (ταμιεῖα ἔσχεν δεδομένα πάντως τοῖς ἱματίοις), ὀπτάνια, δειπνητήρια; πάντα ἐπί τοῦ αὐτοῦ ἐπίπεδου, και ἐπί τῆς αὐτῆς αὐλῆς. αἱ βελτίσται ταμιεῖαι ἦσαν ἐν ἀριστερᾷ (εἰσερχόμενος), ὃτι ἦσαν αἱ μόναι ταμιεῖαι μετά θυρίδων. αἱ θυρίδες ἐβαθυτομηθήσαν καὶ ἐθεασάντο ἐπι τὸν κῆπον αὐτοῦ καὶ τούς λειμῶνας ὄντας ἐπικλινάς πέραν εἰς τὸν ποταμόν.

[It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle. The door opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with panelled walls, and floors tiled and carpeted, provided with polished chairs, and lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats - the hobbit was fond of visitors. The tunnel wound on and on, going fairly but not quite straight into the side of the hill - The Hill, as all the people for many miles round called it - and many little round doors opened out of it, first on one side and then on another. No going upstairs for the hobbit: bedrooms, bathrooms, cellars, pantries (lots of these), wardrobes (he had whole rooms devoted to clothes), kitchens, dining-rooms, all were on the same floor, and indeed on the same passage. The best rooms were all on the left-hand side (going in), for these were the only ones to have windows, deep-set round windows looking over his garden and meadows beyond,
sloping down to the river.]


So I'm not sure quite why I started doing this... but I began to translate The Hobbit into ancient Greek. I think I was actively avoiding grading a pile of papers, and (as Prof. Tolkien would say) a thought came to me unbidden. How would I say "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit" in Greek?

I am a professor of New Testament, so I have done my translation into Hellenistic Greek, sometimes called Koine Greek. My primary reading is in the New Testament and the Septuagint, which I am sure influences my style and grammar choices. I have quite likely included a few semitisms, and it's all but certain that I have made some blunders! Like other New Testament profs, I spend my time reading Greek, but I rarely try to write anything in Greek.

Greek experts, I'd love to get your feedback on the translation. I think I'll post a paragraph at a time.

Translation notes:
  • ὅββιτος = Hobbit
  • ὅββιτοτρώγλη = Hobbit-hole 
  • You can see all the paragraphs translated so far here.

3 comments:

  1. Splendid. Have you see the translation of Mark's Gospel into Elvish? Google it. Interesting.

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  2. Nicely done! Just commenting on the first three sentences, I'm thinking (for reasons that are hard to articulate) that I'd like to see και's between the adjectives in sentence 2 ("nasty, dirty, wet"), perhaps a δε after πεπληρώμενη, and definitely a postpositive γαρ in sentence 3.

    Thanks for doing this!

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  3. Thanks, Mark! I was also debating whether to separate the adjectives with καιs. Torn between following Tolkien's style and good Greek. And you are definitely correct about the γαρ - makes it much smoother.

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