Muggles become Μύγαλοι [Mugaloi]Greek for field-mice, quite appropriate
November 6, 2017 1:20 PM   Subscribe


Harry Potter in Ancient Greek
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, by J.K. Rowling) in Ancient Greek (translation by Andrew Wilson). Read aloud by Daniel Levine.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Translated into Ancient Greek by Andrew Wilson.
The book under review is surely one of the most important pieces of Ancient Greek prose written in many centuries. It will be a delight to all Classicists, a boon to all teachers of Greek, and a possession for all time.

It is, of course, Andrew Wilson's translation, into Ancient Greek, of J.K. Rowling's first Harry Potter book. It is also, in this reader's opinion, a complete success. On nearly every page there is some felicity of composition to be admired, some construction that shows off the Greek language's power and versatility, some turn of phrase that arouses admiration for the translator. In its entirety, it is an extraordinary work -- a prose comp. exercise on an unprecedented scale. But unlike most prose comp exercises, it is also a wonderfully good read.

It will also be of great value to teachers of mid-level Greek who are casting about for texts with which to encourage and entertain their students. After the Xenophontic parasangs have lost their charm and the Euripidean trimeters are limping, students can refresh themselves with a bout of "ikarosphairikê" (Wilson's spot-on neologism for quidditch), or enjoy the bantering of Fred and George. I don't suppose courses will be designed around it, but this book will certainly be a valuable auxiliary.
posted by the man of twists and turns (13 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

i am excite
posted by Hermione Granger at 1:26 PM on November 6 [2 favorites]

Read aloud by Daniel Levine

Mefi classicists - how reliable is the pronunciation on that?
posted by thelonius at 1:28 PM on November 6

Andrew Wilson taught me Latin a long time ago, or tried to.
posted by Segundus at 1:40 PM on November 6 [1 favorite]

Voldemort rather nicely becomes Φολιδόμορτος [Pholidomortos] = Scaly Death

I wonder if he's got an anagram equivalent for "Tom Marvolo Riddle" already planned for Chamber of Secrets. In the modern Greek translation, the character is called Άντον Μόρβολ Χέρτ ("Anton Morvol Khert"), a rearrangement of Άρχων Βόλντεμορτ ("Archon Voldemort").

(There's a list of every authorized translation of Tom Marvolo Riddle here. My favorite is the Danish "Romeo G. Detlev, Jr.," which works out to Jeg er Voldemort.)
posted by Iridic at 2:03 PM on November 6 [8 favorites]

The Hebrew and Hungarian ones are pretty brilliant in their own distinct ways: the Hungarian one is "Tom Rowle Denem (anagram of "Nevem Voldemort" = "My name is Voldemort"; W splits into two V's)". The idea of splitting the W is pretty clever.

The Hebrew one is "טום ואנדרולו רידל
(Tom Vandrolo Riddle; anagram of "אני לורד וולדמורט" = "I am Lord Voldemort")

It's cute because "Vandrolo" looks as though it comes from a Hebrew transliteration of the English word "wonder", which means that "Vandrolo" and "Marvolo" are related names.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:37 PM on November 6 [11 favorites]

I once read the Asterix story that had been translated in ancient Greek (Ρόδον και ξίφος if memory serves) and it was certainly interesting though at like 15 tops my appreciation may have been lacking. I love reading about translation issues and if I find it anywhere I may be tempted to bite. Wonder if the publishing house that has the rights for Greece ever picked up the ancient Greek translation rights too.
posted by ersatz at 2:48 PM on November 6

I sing of scars and the boy.

I know, I know, that was Latin. But "Sing Goddess of the mage" was too vague.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 3:41 PM on November 6

ersatz there are 4 Asterix titles in Ancient Greek published in Greece:
- Μεταξύ ρόδου και ξίφους (a few pages preview)
- Αστερίκιος εν Ολυμπία (full pdf - scribd)
- Αστερίκιος και Κλεοπάτρα
- Αστερίκιος παρά Σακχαραζάδι

All translations I think were probably initiated by the Greek publisher of Asterix (Mamouth Comics) and translated by Fanis Kakridis a respected university professor of classical literature in Greece. These are taught in Greek schools to this day.
posted by talos at 3:58 PM on November 6

Thank you, Iridic, it's not as if I was planning to do anything else with my lunch hour today... I've always thought it was a great shame that the Japanese Harry Potter translations are slavishly (house-elfishly?) literal, to the point that they miss out on endless opportunities for wordplay and amusement. Bad show.
the man of twists and turns, at your leisure please post some more usages from the Ancient Greek version!
posted by huimangm at 7:22 PM on November 6

I studied Homeric Greek in hs, right as the movies were first coming out, and this would have 100% been my jam. Even just skimming through, it's amazing how much of it is still retained somewhere deep in the brain.

In conclusion, this is still my jam.
posted by larthegreat at 7:28 PM on November 6 [2 favorites]

Mefi classicists - how reliable is the pronunciation on that?

Bad. He's got the long eta sound correct, but the omegas are pronounced in the old, wrong way; all of the thetas and phis are pronounced soft rather than hard; I can't detect any attempt to follow the accents/tones, and also the prosody is clunky and off.

I do appreciate that pronouncing ancient greek is Super Hard, but it pains me that there's so much terribly-pronounced stuff out there, because when it's done right it is gorgeous.
posted by Acheman at 1:37 AM on November 7 [1 favorite]

> Bad.

I.e., traditional. Just because it's not as accurate as possible a reproduction of what we now think Ancient Greek sounded like doesn't mean it's "bad," or "terribly-pronounced." You do realize, I trust, that if you went back to ancient Athens the locals would find your accent just as hilarious as his? Accuracy is relative, and any Ancient Greek is good Ancient Greek in this fallen world as far as I'm concerned.
posted by languagehat at 9:38 AM on November 7

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