A d F o n t e s

(Latin: "to the sources")

The New OCTs

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In classics departments, when you study Greek and Latin literature, ordinarily you do it from one text and one text only:  the Oxford Classical Texts (OCT), or “Scriptorum Classicorum Bibliotheca Oxoniensis.”  Sometimes we use Teubners, a German equivalent, but what that means is that you’re instructed to stay away from Loebs because they can reinforce bad translation (though sometimes I still use them).

One of the neatest things about the old OCTs is that all the introductions were written in Latin. Not English, German, or French.  Latin.  Which means you need to already know Latin in order to even begin to access the texts.  I always thought that was pretty cool–kinda made be feel a bit “elite,” like I’d finally “arrived,” even if my Latin is only a few notches above infantile.  I also like that it was “traditional.” 

However, I bought a recently published edition of Plato’s Opera, and much to my dismay I learned that they started doing the intros in English.  Eh.  I felt cheapened.  A bit disgusted.  I guess I felt that way because there is a general trend among scholars toward lowering the standard of linguistic knowledge, and that really bothers me.  Personally, I’d rather squirm through the Latin than have English there.  There’s something really cool about that. 

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September 27, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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