THINGS WE SIMPLY CANNOT IMPROVE.

Ajax His Speech to the Grecian Knabbs, from Ovid’s Metam. Lib. XIII. Attempted in broad Buchans. To which are added a Journal to Portsmouth, and a Shop-Bill, in the same dialect. With a key. By R—— F—— Gent. Glasgow, 1755. It must have taken a certain uncommonly brilliant species of genius to attempt the translation of Ovid into contemporary Scots dialect.   The result is at least as funny as you expect, as when Ajax says of Ulysses,

At threeps I am na’ sae perquire,
Nor auld-sarren as he,
Bat at banes-brakin, it’s well kent,
He has na’ maughts like me.

For as far as I him excel
In toulzies fierce an’ strong,
As far in chaft-taak he exceeds
Me, wi’ his sleeked tongue.

The Latin text is printed at the bottom of each page, so that you may judge the accuracy of the translation for yourself. For comparison, here is Dryden’s translation of the same passage:

By diff’rent Methods we maintain our Right,
Nor am I made to Talk nor he to Fight.
In bloody Fields I labour to be great;
His Arms are a smooth Tongue and soft Deceit…

Dr. Boli is of the opinion that the real Ajax would be less likely to say “In bloody fields I labor to be great,” and more likely to boast of his own skill at “banes-brakin.”

Because you are not likely to discover this book unless someone points it out to you, Dr. Boli gladly shares his discovery, and heaps praises on the ingenuity of R—— F—— Gent.

Published in: on December 17, 2011 at 1:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

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