Friday, January 27, 2012

Parallel Texts: Chapman and Chateaubriand

First, John Jay Chapman in "Greek as a Pleasure" originally published in Memories and Milestones, reprinted in Unbought Spirit:
And yet accurate scholarship and scientific precision are illusions in the case of language, and there is no scholar living who could write a page of Greek without making ludicrous errors---errors of the sort that the Anglo-Indian makes in writing English, which he has learned from books. If even Mr. Mackail or Gilbert Murray or Nauck--that great mythical monster--should spend a whole day in dove-tailing phases which they had fished out of Plato or Thucydides to make and essay out of, the chances are that any Athenian would laugh five times to the page over the performance.
 Chateaubriand, in Book 12, Ch.3 of Memoires d'outre-tombe:
We admire the Greeks and Romans: our admiration comes to us from tradition, and the Greeks and Romans are not here to laugh at our barbarian judgments. Who among us has an idea of the harmony of the prose of Demosthenes or Cicero, of the cadence of the verse of Horace or Alcaeus, as they were heard by a Greek or Roman ear?

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