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KOHD The hunt for lost sayings: Parallels and translation technique in Syriac and Arabic gnomologia Ute Pietruschka (Göttingen / Halle)

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Presentation on theme: "KOHD The hunt for lost sayings: Parallels and translation technique in Syriac and Arabic gnomologia Ute Pietruschka (Göttingen / Halle)"— Presentation transcript:

1 KOHD The hunt for lost sayings: Parallels and translation technique in Syriac and Arabic gnomologia Ute Pietruschka (Göttingen / Halle)

2 The importance of Syriac translations for reconstructing Greek texts Syriac texts sometimes older than the oldest extant Greek mss. Syriac translation may represent an otherwise totally lost Greek textual family or tradition. Ms. (10th cent.) containing the Syriac translation of Aristotle‘s Organon

3 al-Farābī’s (d. 950/51) account on the transmission of Greek philosophy and medicine to the Arabs

4 The Graeco-Arabic Translation Movement in the 8th-10th centuries supported by the elite of Abbasid society commissioned by Abbasid caliphs al-Mansūr ( ) al-Mahdī ( ) al-Ma’mūn ( )

5 Main goals of the CASG project Transmission of gnomologia Greek Arabic Syriac ▪ detecting lines of transmission ▪ approach of the compiler ▪ sources (original works, other collections of sayings)

6 Greek gnomic material translated into Syriac / Arabic:  material of political nature associated with „mirrors of princes“ going back to Byzantine manuals of the 6th/7th cent.  pagan and Christian material of ethical character going back to Greek gnomologia (8th/9th cent.)

7 Different versions of a saying: Arabic collections: Diogenes saw a woman who was carried away by the flood. He said: “The evil is destroyed by the evil.” ( Ḥ unayn 9) Diogenes saw a woman who was carried away by the flood. He said: "She adds to the nuisance a nuisance. The evil is destroyed by the evil.” (Ibn Hindu 480) Diogenes saw a woman who was carried away by the flood. He said: “Let the evil destroy the evil.” (Ibn Hindu 509 = griech.Cod. V 8 (Giannantoni, Socratis et Socraticorum reliquiae), 206) Example for simple rewording of the Arabic tradition or another translation? translation technique Greek-Syriac / Syriac-Arabic

8 Diogenes saw a woman who was carried away by the flood. He said: “The evil is destroyed by the evil.” Names/ persons as „placeholders“ Keyword: quintessence of the saying Names, persons, content as an unstable element the gnome itself as a stable element A saying as a “construction kit”

9 Laments of philosophers over Alexander Greek philosophers uttering wise sayings at Alexander‘s deathbed great popularity both in the East and in the West, translated from Arabic translation into Latin: Petrus Alphonsus’ Disciplina Clericalis (early 12th century) interpolated into the Historia de preliis (a Latin translation from the 10th cent. of Pseudo-Callisthenes – The history of Alexander the Great, recension I)

10 Christian translator and physician (Syrian origin) Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq (d. 873/77) and his school Nawādir al-falāsifa Muslim versions: Mubashshir ibn Fātik (11th cent.) El Libro de los Buenos proverbios Los Bocados de Oro The Muslim tradition of the Laments

11 aṣ-Ṣafadī (d. 1363) on translation technique “The translators use two methods of translation. One of them is that of Yuḥannā b. al-Baṭrīq, Ibn an-Nāʿima al-Ḥimsī and others. According to this method, the translator studies each individual Greek word and its meaning, chooses an Arabic word of corresponding meaning and uses it. Then he turns to the next word and proceeds in the same manner until in the end he has rendered into Arabic the text he wishes to translate. This method is bad… The second method is that of Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, al-Jauharī and others. Here the translator considers a whole sentence, ascertains its full meaning and then expresses it in Arabic with a sentence identical in meaning, without concern for the correspondence of individual words. This method is superior, and hence there is no need to improve the works of Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq”. (F. Rosenthal, The Classical Heritage in Islam, London 1975.)

12 Syriac laments preserved in a late ms. from the beginning of the 20th cent. Christian Arabic tradition: Eutychius, Annales (ed. L. Cheikho, Eutychii Patrirchae Annales, Paris 1906) Al-Makīn, ed. E.A.W. Budge, The Life and Exploits of Alexander the Great, Cambridge 1896) Abū Shākir (Ethiopic version) The Christian tradition of the Laments

13 Syr. 1: ʾmr ʾrsṭwṭlys: npq mn lwtn ʾlksndrws mllʾ w-hpk lwtn štyqʾ Eutychius 3: wa-qāla Arisṭāṭālīs al-ḥakīm: ṣadara ʿannā al-Iskandar nāṭiqan wa-qadama ʿalaynā ṣāmitan Say.PRF=3SG.M Aristoteles: go out.PRF=3SG.M from being with-us.PERSPRN= 1PL Alexander speak.PART ACT=SG.M and-return.PRF=3SG.M being with-us.PERS PRN=1PL silent.PART ACT=SG.M Aristotle said: Alexander departed from us speaking, but returned to us silent.

14 Syr 6: ʾmr Lwṭs pylswpʾ : lʾ ttdmrwn b-mn d-lʾ ʾrtyn b-ḥywhy d-hʾ b-yd mwth mrtn ln. And-say.PRF=3SG.M Lo ṭ as philosopher: NEG wonder.IMPER=PL.M ETHPA at-from of-NEG admonish.PERF=3SG.M APH-PERSPRN.1PL. in-life-his.PERSPRN=3SG.M for behold by death-his.PERSPRN=3SG admonish.PART ACT.SG.M PREP=ACC-us.PERS PRN=1PL And the Philosopher Lo ṭas (Philotas?) said: Do not wonder at him who did not admonish us in his lifetime, for behold he admonishes us by his death. Eut. 9: wa-qāla Lūṭas al-faylasūf: lā tuʿǧibū mimman lam yuʿaẓẓimnā fī ḥayātihī ṯumma qad ṣāra bi-mawtihī lanā wāʿiḏan.

15 Syr. 2: ʾmr Tʾwn ḥkmʾ: ʾmr l-rʿnh d-’lksndrws: ywmnʾ rʿyʾ mrʿytʾ l-rʿyh. Say.PRF=3SG.M Theon wise.ADJ: say to-flock.CST of-Alexander: today shepherd.PRF=3SG.M flock.NOM to.PREP=ACC-shepherd-his.PERSPRN.3SG.M The wise Theon said: Say to Alexander‘s sheep: „Today the flock shepherds its shepherd.“ Eut.4: qāla Nārn al-ḥakīm: qul li-raʿīyat al-Iskandar hāḏā yawm tarʿā ar-raʿīya rāʿihā.

16  mirror type as the norm for translations  translation reflects as many details of the Greek source text as possible: many loan words particles ! ἄρα > ‘r’ δέ > dn γάρ > gyr εὖ > ‘yw μᾶλλον > malon  ideal of formal equivalence is extended to syntax as well  exact representation of Greek sentence structure  later applied to translations into Arabic (from Greek or Syriac) Syriac translation technique in the 7th cent.

17 Ideal for the Greek textual critic and reconstruction of “lost” sayings are the mirror-translations into Syriac and/or Arabic: almost every detail of the underlying Greek text can be observed: syntactical re-use  sequence alignment usable in order to partially automate comparative methods Semantical re-use has to take into account the unstable elements of a saying (names, persons, context) depending on the linguistic / religious background of the translator / compiler …further research


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