Technically-Not-Wrong Translations of Famous Latin and Greek Quotations
Faithfully Rendered from the Original into Faithless English
The conceit of this piece is simple. I wanted to see what would happen if I reduced to its absurd conclusion Emily Wilson’s (correct) statement that every word in a source text presents multitudes of possible meanings:
The results are indeed, in many cases, a reductio ad absurdum (or a “leading back in the direction towards a thing that is no longer in tune,” if you will). In what follows, the translations of famous ancient Roman and Greek sayings are all technically accurate, but literally absurd. Can you identify the original quotation?
—The whole land known in prehistoric times as “Walha” is in a state of having been forced asunder into tripartite portions.
— You (singular) must come to a state of recognition of your own person.
— A male human is the dimension by which to make metrical account of the entirety of thangs.
— Oh! The sides of my head near my eyes! Oh! The fashionable caprices!
— A game of hazard was hurled, and is still hurled now.
— When it comes to natural constitution, a human is an animal that belongs in an Ancient Greek city-state, consisting of a “fortified city center built on an acropolis or harbor, and controlling surrounding territories of land.”
— I predict a means of protection and also a human male.
— The rolled-together mass in front of the building that belongs to the creature in the sky? It’s really not my jam.
— High-strung people hope for just two things: Katniss Everdeen’s homeland and non-angular shapes.
— I feel exceeding abhorrence and I feel the inverse of such negative affection.
— I shall extend my breast to y’all and treat y’all in the manner of children.
— A versatile male: adult, husband, and human being, who was more than once baffled and bewildered, tell me his name, you semi-divine female of unknown etymology.
— Divine one, whistle a ditty about the end-bringing rage of the man (son of Clay) who brings grief to the people.
— My accounting is laid up together more as an eternal thing for the having of it than as a contention for a prize for on the spot listening (Ed. note: This is actually a pretty faithful translation of the original; sometimes the satire just writes itself)
Sarah Scullin is in charge of determining the final content of the texts prepared and issued at “Phantom,” a professional periodical devoted to making the investigations of a certain narrow period of time and restricted geographical area accessible to those who in the modern world read English and have internet access. She came into possession of the highest academic rank conferred by the Wholeness belonging to the Woods of the Englishman named for hills in the two thousand and 12th rotation of the earth around the sun since the traditionally reckoned emergence from a human womb of the greased one.