Justin Martyr, 1.1, and translating the aorist participle

Justin Martyr, 1.1, and translating the aorist participle

Postby Mike Baber » May 31st, 2011, 12:07 pm

Justin Martyr: Dialogue with Trypho

Chapter I

1 Περιπατοῦντί μοι ἕωθεν ἐν τοῖς τοῦ ξυστοῦ περιπάτοις συναντήσας τις μετὰ καὶ ἄλλων· Φιλόσοφε, χαῖρε, ἔφη. καὶ ἅμα εἰπὼν τοῦτο ἐπιστραφεὶς συμπεριεπάτει μοι· συνεπέστρεφον δ' αὐτῷ καὶ οἱ φίλοι αὐτοῦ. κἀγὼ ἔμπαλιν προσαγορεύσας αὐτόν· Τί μάλιστα; ἔφην.

1 While walking early in the covered walkways of the Xystus, a certain man, also with other men, having encountered me, said, "Hail philosopher!" And as soon as he said this, he turned towards me and walked with me. And, his friends also turned with him. And I, on the other hand, greeted him, "What is new?"

My question involves aorist active participles, such as εἰπὼν and ἐπιστραφεὶς. Should I be more inclined to assume aorist participles should be translated into English in the indicative mood rather than assuming they should be translated into English as what they are – participles? Because, if translated as participles, the translation seems bizarre and foreign. But, translated as indicatives, the translation seens more polished.

As an example, in biblical Hebrew, the present participle is equivalent to the modern Hebrew "present tense." Is this what I should expect in Greek, whereby I may find what we commonly define as a "participle" in the Greek text, but this "participle" should probably be translated in the indicative mood?

Hopefully that's clear. I know Mr. Conrad often talks about translating the general idea of a text rather than making it woodenly literal, but I'm just trying not to inject ideas into the text (at my level).

Thoughts?
Mike Baber
 
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Re: Justin Martyr, 1.1, and translating the aorist participl

Postby cwconrad » May 31st, 2011, 4:44 pm

Mike Baber:
1 Περιπατοῦντί μοι ἕωθεν ἐν τοῖς τοῦ ξυστοῦ περιπάτοις συναντήσας τις μετὰ καὶ ἄλλων· Φιλόσοφε, χαῖρε, ἔφη. καὶ ἅμα εἰπὼν τοῦτο ἐπιστραφεὶς συμπεριεπάτει μοι· συνεπέστρεφον δ' αὐτῷ καὶ οἱ φίλοι αὐτοῦ. κἀγὼ ἔμπαλιν προσαγορεύσας αὐτόν· Τί μάλιστα; ἔφην.


My question involves aorist active participles, such as εἰπὼν and ἐπιστραφεὶς. Should I be more inclined to assume aorist participles should be translated into English in the indicative mood rather than assuming they should be translated into English as what they are – participles? Because, if translated as participles, the translation seems bizarre and foreign. But, translated as indicatives, the translation seens more polished.


If the aorist participle precedes the main verb as συναντήσας precedes ἔφη and εἰπὼν and ἐπιστραφεὶς precede συμπεριεπάτει , and then προσαγορεύσας precedes ἔφην, the participles go, I think, into the most natural English as adverbial clauses, often temporal but always somehow circumstantial.

I'd English this text as follows: "As I was walking early in the morning in walkways of the colonnade, a certain man accompanied as well by others encountered me and said, "Greetings, philosopher." And when he said that he immediately changed his course and proceeded to walk along with me, and his friends too changed their course along with him. And I in turn addressed him and said, "What's on your mind?"

As a translation strategy you can start out by conveying the aorist participles (or present participles too, for that matter) as subordinate clauses, usually temporal clauses; you may find that gets the sense pretty well into English usually, but you may have to make adjustments once you've tried this strategy.

Ultimately, of course, as I have indeed said repeatedly, you have to understand the Greek text as a whole Greek text before you can find an appropriate way to convey the sense of that text in English.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω
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