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Top 10 Tips for Translating Ovid

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Florence Markham

on 25 August 2013

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Transcript of Top 10 Tips for Translating Ovid

Bedford School Classics Department

Top 10 Tips for Translating Ovid

READ the title, intro and English translation first, both the part before the section you have to translate and the part at the end.

COMPARE the English with the Latin; you will have more of an understanding of what is happening

READ through the Latin section you have to translate three times
Ovid is poetry; don’t be afraid to let your translation reflect that (when it’s appropriate)

ter bracchia tendens….

"Stretching out her arms three times" is natural prose, but in verse you might say "three times stretching out her arms"
Make your reading ACTIVE: e.g. draw arrows to indicate which words go together; put S above subject and V above main verb, underline the main verb and identify agreements. This will make life easier when you come to piece it all together.
If you can SCAN, then you may be able to use scansion to help you determine whether a first declension noun is nominative or ablative

puella with short final –a: nominative
puella with long final –a: ablative
Be on guard for word play, polyptoton - including where the same root word is repeated in more than one word - and antithesis. Ovid uses his language to enhance his content - be prepared.
Look carefully at the word order. Ovid is verse (think Shakespeare) so basic rules of syntax go out of the window to some degree.
Watch out of metonymy and synecdoche - Mars = war / wheels = chariot.
Ovid will make swift transitions between elements of his story; characters may be introduced quickly, perhaps in an obscure reference.

Some parts he will linger on instead, e.g. transformations will often receive a long and loving explanation.
Ovid will sometimes use apostrophe - he will speak directly to someone or something. That someone will sometimes be you!

The clue is the 2nd person verb.
Ovid can make use of the Dative of Agent and Accusative of Respect - odd dative / accusative that don't have any obvious translation will be your clue here.

In particular these will appear with passive verbs.
Not strictly a tip, more a final thought:

Stay Calm...

You know how to translate Latin, you have for years. Where's the subject? Where's the verb? Is it singular or plural? What tense?

Stay Calm.
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