Sun, sea, and sky: on translating directions (and other terms) in the Greek geographers
chapterposted on 2020-11-27, 17:08 authored by D Graham J Shipley
This paper surveys the terminology of ‘compass directions’ in Greek geographical writings, in order to determine how best to translate them into English. It begins from the observation that Greek has two words for each cardinal point,which are also meaningful terms (e.g. boreas, ‘north wind’, and arktoi, ‘bears’). The terminology of harbours (especially limēn, hormos, salos, hyphormos) and seas(especially thalassa, pelagos, pontos) illustratesthe fluidity of certain terms and the possible need to introduce less familiar English words (e.g. ‘roadstead’, ‘main’). Regarding directions, whena single word is used metonymically the simple equivalent should be used (e.g. boreas, ‘north’). Multi-word expressions should be translated to reflect the original sensesof the words (e.g. boreasanemos, ‘north wind’; hēliou dysmai, ‘settings of the sun’). This includes phrases with astronomical modifiers (e.g. isēmerinē anatolē, ‘equidiurnalsunrise’, referring to the equinoxes; therinai anatolai, ‘summer sunrises’, referring to the solstice). Names of winds, except when used as simple direction markers, should be left as names (e.g. ‘Euros’), not converted into directional expressions (e.g. ‘the east-south-east wind’). Translators may sometimes need to explain their practice using notesor parentheseis (e.g. ‘east (ēōs) ...east (anatolē)’; ‘Thraskias (NNW wind)’).
CitationShopley, D. Graham J., Sun, sea, and sky: on translating directions (and other terms) in the Greek geographers in (Eds) Boutsikas, Efrosyni, McCluskey, Stephen C., Steele, John., Advancing Cultural Astronomy Studies In Honour of Clive Ruggles, 2021, Springer.
Author affiliationSchool of Archaeology and Ancient History
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