By Denis Feeney
Virgil, Ovid, Cicero, Horace, and different authors of historical Rome are so firmly validated within the Western canon at the present time that the delivery 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 used to be 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 degree productions of performs that represented the 1st translations of Greek literary texts into one other language. From a latest standpoint, translating foreign-language literature into the vernacular turns out completely general. yet in an historical Mediterranean global made of many multilingual societies without such as the text-based literature of the Greeks, literary translation was once strange if no longer extraordinary. Feeney indicates the way it allowed Romans to systematically take over Greek different types of tragedy, comedy, and epic, making them their very own and giving delivery to what has develop into referred to as Latin literature.
The progress of Latin literature coincides with a interval of dramatic switch in Roman society. The robust yet geographically constrained Roman city-state of 320 BCE had conquered all of Italy simply fifty years later. by the point Rome turned the unquestioned dominant strength within the Mediterranean over the process the subsequent century, its voters may boast of getting a different vernacular literature, in addition to a historic culture and mythology, that placed them in a different dating with Greek culture.
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Additional info for Beyond Greek: The Beginnings of Latin Literature
In Chapter 8, we shall be comparing the Roman experiment with other cases, in the ancient and the modern world, in order to try to clarify what was, and what was not, distinctive about what they ended up producing. As stressed above, the aim here is not to mark the Romans or Greeks up and anyone else down, but rather to try to be as precise as we can be about the particular circumstances that resulted from the Roman experiment. The Conclusion will assess the implications of the Roman achievement within a larger Mediterranean context, 16 Beyond Greek describing how they became part of the web of history, chronology, and mythology within the oecumenē.
It is always important to guard against the fallback idea that certain predictable kinds of transference and commerce are to be expected when different language groups, equipped with different texts, are in contact with one another. 74 This is in fact a reasonably rare scenario historically, although something like it can occur, as we saw in the case of Manetho’s Egyptian history, but even here we are dealing with traffic from a bilingual sphere into a monolingual one. One can even find large-scale translation activity taking place across language borders when there is no sustained bilingualism in play.
64 The Greek élite tendency to monolingualism and especially uniliteracy in the Classical and Hellenistic periods appears to be curiously exceptional in the context of the time, reminding us once more of how “the Greeks of the Classical period . . ”65 The Greeks in this regard resemble the overwhelmingly monolingual Americans and British of the contemporary world: if your language is the default language of international culture, and if there are plenty of people to interpret and translate for you in the domains of diplomacy, government, and trade, why not be monoglot?