Monday, June 2, 2014

Changing norms in Latin

And I'm not talking about antiquity. I'm talking about how we present texts. Right now I'm slowly grinding through a Catullus project. And in the course of transcribing the text, I've noticed several differences. In Catullus 62, line 60 is presented this way in a Latin/English edition from 1894.
Non aequomst pugnare, pater cui tradidit ipse,
Similar, yet quite different, is the Perseus presentation of the same line.
non aequum est pugnare, pater cui tradidit ipse
The differences are editorial. The words are the same, but the capitalization and prodelision are gone. The spelling is also changed to fit the standard better.

I suspect that the capitalization thing is a style choice that we have been moving away from in English over the last hundred years. I can't prove it (or rather I'm not going to crunch the data to be certain), but it's my hunch. I'm somewhat surprised at the archaic spelling in a book of this vintage, since that era has always felt like a time of standardization to me. But I could be wrong. Either way, there's an argument to be made. On the one side, it is useful to use standard spelling for less experienced students and simplicity of data management. On the flip side, (provided it's the textually attested form) it is what was written. There's a part of me that feels that we serve the text before it serves us. But this is all a digression.

Where did the prodelision go? It's all over this edition. It's taught in meter. I've heard people do it at conventiculums. It's easy to screw up if you're not smart to it, so a reminder of its existence won't hurt anyone. Besides, written Greek is full of elisions (though maybe not prodelisions). I'm probably just tilting at windmills, but here's how I handled the line from above.
non aequom'st pugnare, pater cui tradidit ipse
It strikes me as a balance and maybe an English speaker's solution. I'm sticking with the 1894 spelling and punctuation. Mostly. I hate semicolons.