By Denis Feeney
Virgil, Ovid, Cicero, Horace, and different authors of historical Rome are so firmly verified within the Western canon this present day that the beginning of Latin literature turns out inevitable. but, Denis Feeney boldly argues, the beginnings of Latin literature have been whatever yet inevitable. The cultural flourishing that during time produced the Aeneid, the Metamorphoses, and different Latin classics was once one of many strangest occasions in history.
Beyond Greek strains the emergence of Latin literature from 240 to one hundred forty BCE, starting with Roman level productions of performs that represented the 1st translations of Greek literary texts into one other language. From a contemporary point of view, translating foreign-language literature into the vernacular turns out completely general. yet in an historical Mediterranean international made of many multilingual societies with out akin to the text-based literature of the Greeks, literary translation used to be strange if no longer unparalleled. Feeney exhibits the way it allowed Romans to systematically take over Greek sorts of tragedy, comedy, and epic, making them their very own and giving start to what has turn into often called Latin literature.
The progress of Latin literature coincides with a interval of dramatic swap in Roman society. The robust yet geographically restricted Roman city-state of 320 BCE had conquered all of Italy simply fifty years later. by the point Rome grew to become the unquestioned dominant strength within the Mediterranean over the process the subsequent century, its electorate may perhaps boast of getting a unique vernacular literature, in addition to a old culture and mythology, that placed them in a special dating with Greek culture.
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45 Paradoxically, it may have been the very existence of the Septuagint, with its appearance of being a “translation,” that in time produced the impression that there must be a unified “original” to which this translation referred, thus engendering a new kind of pressure to canonize a hitherto more disparate body of sacred texts. 46 The kinetic power of the young Macedonian monarchies was immense. The impact of the Greek powers in their interaction with their new subjects produced new possibilities for interaction.
66 Nor do we observe élite Greek authors in the Hellenistic kingdoms developing biliteracy in order to translate texts either into or out of Greek, even if some of them will presumably had some oral knowledge of other languages; again, the difference in the Roman case will be very great, for there we shall see not only non-Romans translating from Greek into Latin but also, in due course, Romans as well. Of course, in the Roman sphere we can identify with confidence at least one primary speaker of Greek who learned another language, Latin, well enough to write epic and drama in his new language—Livius Andronicus.
Now, he immediately went on to gloss and qualify this remark. There have been periods of intense translating activity in India. ” 6 There has never been such a thing as an impermeable culture, but a group is able to represent itself as being its own knowledge-world to one degree or another, and this is particularly the case with forms of textually encoded knowledge. 7 From this perspective, it is not, on reflection, obvious that even a bilingual group will need to set up a dialogue with outside traditions of knowledge and power by importing vernacular versions of texts that matter to those outside traditions.
Beyond Greek: The Beginnings of Latin Literature by Denis Feeney