Meditations?

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Meditations?

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1.Monkey.
May 4, 2016, 5:14am

Does anyone have any thoughts on the best edition of Meditations? I'd like to read it, but am at a loss as to which edition I should acquire... If anyone has any insight here, even of editions not to get, it would be appreciated!

2shikari
Edited: May 4, 2016, 11:12am

>1 .Monkey.: Translation or edition? With or without a commentary? If translation, just English? For editions, Manfred Landfester in die neue Pauly lists J. Dalfen's Teubner edition of 1987 (Marci Aurelii Antonini ad se ipsum libri XII) as the current standard edition (ISBN 3322003558).

3LolaWalser
May 4, 2016, 1:15pm

>1 .Monkey.:

No idea, but I can't resist chipping in about what was a favourite of mine at age eighteen... We read bits in Greek in school, but that wasn't important; I really discovered it in a modest little Penguin, translated by Maxwell Staniforth, whoever he was... maybe it would work for you too? :)

4.Monkey.
May 4, 2016, 5:13pm

>2 shikari: Translated edition, sorry, suppose I should have specified in this group! xD Commentary is always nice, though not really required.

>3 LolaWalser: Thanks, will look into that. :)

5MarthaJeanne
Edited: May 5, 2016, 3:11am

I have the Staniforth translation. It's over 50 years old, and our expectations are different today. I would not recommend it. I just looked at a few translations in Amazon. (Search for Rusticus or Diognetus to get comparable passages.) The variations are quite amazing! Find something you are comfortable reading.

I think I'll throw this copy away. You are welcome to it, but I would suggest buying something newer instead.

6MarthaJeanne
May 5, 2016, 3:40am

I'm highly tempted to buy the Kindle Bilingual version. (Cleese) Not that my Greek is so good (although I have some), but I feel that the parallel format helps keep the translator honest, and gives me the chance to look at both.

7.Monkey.
May 5, 2016, 3:51am

Ah I didn't think about amazon's "look inside" stuff, that's a good idea. :)

8pmackey
May 5, 2016, 9:11am

Personal preference, as a general reader interested in Stoicism, I enjoy the Penguin classic version. Very accessible.

9MarthaJeanne
Edited: May 5, 2016, 9:35am

>8 pmackey: Which translator? The old edition was Staniforth. The new one is Martin Hammond.

10LolaWalser
May 5, 2016, 10:36am

>5 MarthaJeanne:

I haven't looked at it for years, but in general I wouldn't a priori reject a translation simply because it's old. Ancient Greek is as dead and ancient as it was fifty years ago. If memory serves, it was Staniforth's tone and register I especially enjoyed.

11shikari
May 5, 2016, 11:22am

What's A.S.L. Farquharson's translation like? I see it appeared both in the Oxford World Classics (with Fronto's letters) and in the new hardback Everyman series. Farquharson did a Clarendon text and commentary as well as other scholarship on Marcus Aurelius and he must surely be worth reading? I ask for my own information too.

12PhaedraB
May 5, 2016, 2:07pm

>10 LolaWalser: Ancient Greek may be just as dead, but translation does go through fashions, just as everything else in academia. Old translations will be characteristic of their age, and may consciously or unconsciously suppress, for example, sexual content or other things that would not be suitable for polite society at the time.

Not so very long ago, it would also be presumed that the educated classes could at least muddle through the original Greek, so it would be available if the translator was being coy about something or promoting a particular spin on a text.

13LolaWalser
May 5, 2016, 2:25pm

>12 PhaedraB:

More or less true (although I insist that "old" doesn't mean inadequate, "new" doesn't mean good, and there are certain positives to versions with an "older" flavour), but I wasn't discussing translation in abstract, I simply offered a specific suggestion for a version that I happened to like. Since no one can know what another person's experience might be, going with a personal favourite is as good a starting point as any.

14MarthaJeanne
May 6, 2016, 3:57am

>10 LolaWalser: Looking at Staniforth and comparing it with more modern translations and the Greek, I find it more of a paraphrase than a translation. If you liked the style, you liked Staniforth's style, and not Marcus Aurelius'.

At that time it was normal to try to rewrite in a current style. Today it is considered better to try and present the original author's style. In Book One Aurelius makes each section the same. Each starts with 'para', then gives either the name or a description of the person, then mentions the various things he learned. You'd never guess that from Staniforth. He has written each section differently. This is certainly what we were taught was good style in our own writing at that time. But ancient writers used a lot of repetition, and I have come to really appreciate it. (Part of this is the difference between texts meant to be heard, and those meant to be read silently.) Various new translations find different ways of representing the original style, and you can argue back and forth about whether a sort of outline style is better or full sentences.

I would prefer a translation that tries to transmit something of the flavour of the original.

Also, in general, any translation 50 years old is not a translation into current language, nor does it take current scholarship into consideration. For me, both are important.

15richardbsmith
May 6, 2016, 9:36am

It appears that we may have enough Greek skills here to compare some of the translations.

Anyone interested in working through some of the meditations and comparing translations?

16shikari
Edited: May 7, 2016, 7:01am

There's always the great Stewart translation by Meric Casaubon, son of the great classical scholar Isaac Casaubon, Marcus Aurelies Antoninus the Roman Emperor, his Meditations Concerning Himself (1634). It was republished as the Golden Book of Marcus Aurelius. Well written, available both in paper (Everyman used to do an edition) and in lots of on-line and ebook texts. Just looking at it now. Fun! I really don't think recent scholarship makes that much difference for this sort of work.

By the way, don't miss the Discourses of the Stoic philosopher Epictetus, who was patronized by the emperor Hadrian and whose work heavily influences Marcus Aurelius. A freed slave, Epictetus is really worth reading. Again, lots of translations. Read the Discourses, not the shorter Handbook. I used the Loeb which has an older translation by Oldfather facing the Greek (and like most versions includes both works)

17pmackey
May 16, 2016, 6:54pm

The new one, Martin Hammond.

18anthonywillard
Edited: Jun 19, 2016, 6:22am

Marcus Aurelius's Greek style was nothing to write home about. Translations that polish it up a little bit are blessings in disguise. If you feel you can't read any translation done before 1966, you're going to miss out on a lot of ancient literature in English, as well as some of the best Homer and Athenian tragedy translations.

19anthonywillard
Jun 19, 2016, 6:26am

Having said all that, I should add that it is probably just as well that Penguin is putting Maxwell Staniforth to bed.