Σοφια

I’m back!

Yesterday I attended a fascinating lecture by Karen Bassi on death in tragedy, put on by the Institute of Classical Studies, and I remembered just how much I love academia.

But, it has to be noted, I don’t always love academia. I’m sure many Classicists would scoff at the very idea of translating modern songs into ancient Greek, and dismiss such a venture as an example of the ‘dumbing down’ of serious subjects. But whatever. I’m enjoying it. So here’s my next one!

I chose this song as I wanted to see whether reading sophia as ‘wisdom’ rather than as a name would change its meaning. In fact, the term comes up only thrice, and in the same sentence pattern each time. We read, “now, wisdom, I am wounded by dust”, rather than “now, Sophia…” However, if we capitalise Σοφια, as I have done here, she becomes the goddess, the physical and womanly embodiment of wisdom. Which is perhaps similar to what Laura Marling had in mind.

I became aware during this translation that I was all too happy to have lyrics repeated, meaning a copy and paste cop-out by me. I was reminded of the Homeric usage of stock phrases, and the theory suggesting that the Iliad and Odyssey are littered with such repetitive phrases in order to buy the travelling bard time to remember his place in the tale.

I also became aware that I had a lot of notes on my translation, and that it might be worth doing a commentary next time…

Anyway, enjoy – and I invite all Hellenists to give suggestions/corrections!

 

‘Σοφια’ – Λαυρα Μαρλιγγος

ὦ δε ποὑ πεφροντικα δεδοκα·

οὐ φροντιζε περι ἀρτι ἡν.

οὐ περι ὁστινα μου δερμα ἐψαυκα

οὐ ὁστινα εἰακα·

αἰσχυντηλος γαρ νυν εἰμι και ὀφθαλμοις ταλαιπωρομαι.

κονι δε τραυματιζω

πας δε ποὑ πεφροντικα δεδοκα

οὐ φροντιζε περι ἀρτι ἡν.

οὐ περι ὁστινα μου δερμα ἐψαυκα

οὐ ὁστινα εἰακα·

ταλαιπωρος γαρ νυν εἰμι και ὀφθαλμοις ταλαιπωρομαι.

ἐνιοντε μεν καθιημι ἠ ἀποβλεπω

ἠ βλεποντες οὐκ φροντιζω·   

σπανιος μεντοι ὠν, ἐνιοντε δει δακρυειν.

κονι δε τραυματιζω

ὁποτε συμβαλλει

σου γυναικα αἰθηρι προσειπε·

Και κωδων ψαλλομενος πανυστατῃ ἡμερῃ

ἐν γονοις ἐσεσθε ἱνα εὐχῃ

καλη γυνη εἰμι, και οὐποτε περι τον ἐργον ὁν αὐθημερον ἐπρηξας ἐφη.

οὐκ τις γυνη ἡ μελλων ἀντιποιεισθαι ἀλλα ἐφης πραγμα ἡμερᾳ δικων ἐρχεσθαι

νυν Σοφια

κονι τραυματιζω

ὁποτε συμβαλλει

σου γυναικα αἰθηρι προσειπε·

Και κωδων ψαλλομενος πανυστατῃ ἡμερῃ

ἐν γονοις ἐσεσθε ἱνα εὐχῃ

καλη γυνη εἰμι, και οὐποτε περι τον ἐργον ὁν αὐθημερον ἐπρηξας ἐφη.

οὐκ τις γυνη ἡ μελλων ἀντιποιεισθαι ἀλλα ἐφης πραγμα ἡμερᾳ δικων ἐρχεσθαι

νυν Σοφια

κονι τραυματιζω

νυν Σοφια

Sophia – Laura Marling

Oh I have been wondering where I have been pondering
Where I’ve been lately is no concern of yours
Who’s been touching my skin
Who have I been letting
Shy and tired eyed am I today

I’m wounded by dust
All I have been wondering where I have been pondering
Where I’ve been lately is no concern of yours
Who’s been touching my skin
Who have I been letting
Tried and tired eyed am I today

Sometimes I sit, sometimes I stare
Sometimes they look and sometimes I don’t care
Rarely I weep, sometimes I must
I’m wounded by dust

When the bell toll, when the bell gon’ chime
You better call for your woman up high
And when the bell tolls for your last day,
You’ll be getting down on your knees to pray
I’m a good woman and I never did say whatever it was that you did that day
I’m not a woman that is going to place claim but you said that it was coming on judgement day

Now Sophia
I’m wounded by dust

When the bell toll, when the bell gon’ chime
You better call for your woman up high
And when the bell tolls for your last day,
You’ll be getting down on your knees to pray
I’m a good woman and I never did say whatever it was that you did that day
I’m not a woman that is going to place claim but you said that it was coming on judgement day

Now Sophia
I’m wounded by dust
Now Sophia

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νοστος

I have, unfortunately, been neglecting this blog. I found nothing that I wanted to write about save for self-flagellating diatribes on how much I hated being away from my friends, or being sat behind a computer for 7 hours a day, or having to do the bloody London commuter life. I tried to forget about uni: I left every Exeter Facebook group and unfollowed every Classics-related Twitter account. I tried to embrace my new life, thinking that if I focussed on my career I’d miss uni less, and be happy. But truthfully, nothing has made me happier nor more excited than reading about PhD scholarships for next year. I don’t just miss uni, I miss Greek. I miss my department and my studying and my books. So… I’m not saying I’ll definitely do a PhD, but I decided that I need to get back to ancient Greek regardless. 

In my Masters year I won the ‘Creative Corner’ award in the departmental journal for my translation of Death Cab For Cutie’s song Pity and Fear, citing Aristotle as reason enough for this strange-sounding venture. I hugely enjoyed writing the prose composition, and found that it forced me to review my grammar skills in a way I hadn’t done since school. So I want to use this blog to rewrite a series of Classics-related songs into ancient Greek. For my own amusement, basically. Yes, I am a laugh.

So to start us off, here’s the piece I wrote for the journal least year.

Ἐλεος και φοβος are the principles which Aristotle regards as central to the success of a tragedy. Therefore I decided that Death Cab For Cutie’s song, ‘Pity and Fear’ would be a good fit for a prose composition.

‘Ἐλεος Και Φοβος’ – Θανατος Ἁρμα Τῳ Καλῳ

ἐγω τοσος οὑτῳ ξενῳ κοιμαμενῳ ἐγγυς μου φθονω

ὁς νυκτῳ ἐγειρεν και ἐν φαῳ της ἑως φευγεν

ἀφωνος, λαθρα, οὐτε ἐπινευσας οὐτε ταραξας

ἁμαρτιαν θ’ἁμαρτιαν ἁμαρτιαν παντοις αἰτιαται.

και μεν οὐδεν δακρυα ἐστιν

μονος δ’ἐλεος και φοβος

και μεγας χαραδρα

ἐν ἀκριβει μεσῳ

χειμοντος ἐπι τῳ ποντῳ ὀντος πρῳρα ἐσχισε και ἐγω ἀνετρεπον

και κατεδυσα που οὐδεποτε ἰεναι ὠμοσα.

εἰ οὐκ οἱος τ’ εἰ κατα χωραν μενειν, οὐκ οἱος τ’ εἰ το ἀποχωρειν πυνθανεσθαι.

των περιοντων, των μενοντων, των μενοντων, των μενοντων.

και μεν οὐδεν δακρυα ἐστιν

μονος δ’ἐλεος και φοβος

και μεγας χαραδρα

ἐν ἀκριβει μεσῳ

διοτι οὐδεν δακρυα ἐστιν

μονος δ’ἐλεος και φοβος

μεμηνμαι

και του ὠθισμου μαλλον ἠ πτωματος,

και του ὠθισμου μαλλον ἠ πτωματος.

And here are the lyrics in English for comparison:

Pity and Fear – Death Cab For Cutie

I have such envy for this stranger lying next to me

Who awakes in the night and slips out into the pre-dawn light

With no words, a clean escape, no promises or messes made

And chalks it all up to mistake, mistake, mistake

And there are no tears

Just pity and fear

And a vast ravine

Right in between

A storm at sea the bow cracked and I was capsizing

And I sunk below where I swore I would never go

If you can’t stand in place you can’t tell there’s walking away

From who remains, who stays, who stays, who stays

And there are no tears

Just pity and fear

And a vast ravine

Right in between

Cause there are no tears

Just pity and fear

And I recall

The push more than the fall

The push more than the fall