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William Wilberforce: For the Abolition of Slavery (1791)

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William Wilberforce: For the Abolition of Slavery (1791)

Postby NateD26 » Tue Sep 14, 2010 2:01 am

This is a short excerpt I've found on Wikipedia of William Wilberforce's speech before the House of Commons,
delivered April 18, 1791. The entire speech can be found on Google books, The Parliamentary history of England from the earliest period to the year 1803.

I have scarcely deviated from the original. Since I have a rather meager vocabulary, LSJ along with Perseus' English-to-Greek tool
were very beneficial. I hope to receive corrections and constructive criticism. :)

Original:
Let us not despair; it is a blessed cause, and success, ere long, will crown our exertions. Already we have gained one victory; we have obtained,
for these poor creatures, the recognition of their human nature, which, for a while was most shamefully denied. This is the first fruits of our efforts;
let us persevere and our triumph will be complete. Never, never will we desist till we have wiped away this scandal from the Christian name,
released ourselves from the load of guilt, under which we at present labour, and extinguished every trace of this bloody traffic, of which our posterity,
looking back to the history of these enlightened times, will scarce believe that it has been suffered to exist so long a disgrace and dishonour to this country.

Translation:

μὴ ἀπελπίζωμεν, ὦ ἄνδρες· μακάριον γὰρ τὸ αἴτιον καὶ ἡμεῖς πλέον ποιήσoμεν πρότερον ἢ οὔ. τοῦτο δὴ ἤδη νενικήκαμεν, ὅτι τούτοις τοῖς ταλαιπώροις τὸ γιγνῶσκον τὸ τῶν ἀνθρωπίνων ἐσχήκαμεν, ὅπερ πολὺν ἀναισχυντότατ᾿ ἀπηρνήθη. τοῦτ᾿ ἔσθ᾿ ὁ πρῶτος καρπὸς τῶν ἡμετέρων σπουδῶν. διαφέρωμεν οὖν καὶ ἡ νίκη ἡμῶν τελεσθήσεται δή. οὔποτε μήν, ὦ ἄνδρες, οὐ μὴ παυσώμεθα ἕως ἂν ἀπολελυκότες ὦμεν ταύτην τὴν αἰσχύνην τοῦ χριστιανικοῦ ὀνόματος κἂν ἠλευθερωμένοι ὦμεν τῆς αἰτίας ὑφ᾿ ᾗ νυνὶ πονοῦμεν κἂν παντάπασιν ἐξῃρηκότες ὦμεν ταύτην τὴν αἱματηρὰν ἐμπορίαν, ἣ οἱ λοιποὶ προσβλέψαντες τὰ νῦν μόλις νομιοῦσιν ἡμᾶς ἀνέχεσθαι αὐτὴν τοσαῦτα ἤδη ἔτη αἰσχράν τε καὶ ἄτιμον οὖσαν τῇ πόλει.
Last edited by NateD26 on Thu Sep 16, 2010 8:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: William Wilberforce: For the Abolition of Slavery (1791)

Postby Markos » Thu Sep 16, 2010 1:20 pm

Very well done, Nate. I had to read it a few times but I understood the whole thing. You have a nice Attic style. I did not find any mistakes.

εὔγε εὔγε. σφόδρα καλὸς ποιητὴς σὺ εῖ.
I am writing in Ancient Greek not because I know Greek well, but because I hope that it will improve my fluency in reading. I got the idea for this from Adrianus over on the Latin forum here at Textkit.
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Re: William Wilberforce: For the Abolition of Slavery (1791)

Postby NateD26 » Fri Sep 17, 2010 1:28 pm

Thanks, Markos. I don't think I can call what I did a composition, but merely an exercise in translation.
Jayson has pointed out to me that the adj. χριστός does not mean Christian but anointed and suggested to use the subst. χριστιᾱνός
as an adj. or the dedicated adj. χριστιᾱνικός. I was also not quite sure how to render success will crown our exertions to Greek
so I just used a peculiar use of the neuter I've found in Plato's Apology, πλέον ποιεῖν, to be successful. It's markedly less powerful though.
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Re: William Wilberforce: For the Abolition of Slavery (1791)

Postby modus.irrealis » Sat Sep 18, 2010 4:10 pm

If you haven't seen it there's Woodhouse's English-Greek dictionary which is very good.

You're braver that I am to try this, but I liked many of the choices you made. Some minor comments:

I don't think αἴτιον means "cause" in that sense -- maybe πρᾶγμα or σκοπός?

I don't quite get πρότερον ἢ οὔ -- you could say δι' ὀλίγου or οὐ διὰ μακροῦ or something like that.

I don't get your use of the participle γιγνῶσκον or how τῶν ἀνθρωπίνων goes with it. I would just use ἀναγνώρισιν or something similar and be very literal and say τῆς ἀνθρωπίνης φύσεως αὐτῶν (although I'm not sure about how the possessive would be expressed best in Attic) or τοῦ εἶναι αὐτοὺς ἀνθρώπους (but I'm not sure how natural that would be either).

I'm not sure but I think it's better to say πολὺν χρόνον explicitly. With ἀπηρνήθη, the imperfects fits better in my opinion, but I'm not sure how natural using this verb with a passive sense would be. Smyth seems to list it as a verb that only has a future passive in 813.

οὗτος ἐστὶ ὁ πρῶτος καρπός since I believe the demonstrative usually takes the gender of the noun.

I'm not sure about διαφέρω as "perservere" and the sentence final δή seems odd here (but I'm never sure about particles).

You have "we will never not stop" -- these negatives don't reinforce. You could try to fit in just ποτέ somehow, but I would just replace οὐ μή + subj. with the future. I don't think the perfect is normal here in Greek, better the aorist ἀπολέσωμεν, ἐλευθερωθῶμεν, ... You wouldn't repeat the ἄν normally and I don't think it could go there in any case, because it would be clause-first.

Also some typos, like ἣ instead of ἣν in the last sentence.
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Re: William Wilberforce: For the Abolition of Slavery (1791)

Postby NateD26 » Sat Sep 18, 2010 9:19 pm

This is an invaluable dictionary, modus. Many thanks! :)

Thanks. I had my doubts for αἴτιον in this sense, but πρᾶγμα is quite fitting here.

I searched in Smyth under πρότερον ἢ, sooner than, before while attempting this but it seems it always go with its own clause.
After searching the TLG, I've found in Aristotle ὕστερον ἢ πρότερον ἢ οὔ, sooner or later or not at all.
I was going for sooner than not, as I know it's common to say in English but I realize it's not a Greek expression.

The participle seemed to me to mean that which recognizes their humanity, but if there is an actual word for recognition,
it must be more appropriate to use it. I know that "their" in my translation was lacking, I initially thought it could be implied
but I'm sure that was wrong of me and it should be written. I've found on LSJ that τὸ ἀνθρώπειον mean mankind but also human nature.
Maybe we can say τὴν ἀναγνώρισιν τὴν τοῦ ἀνθρωπείου αὐτῶν, the recognition of their human nature as oppose to
being treated inhumanly before.

After reading your comment about ἀπηρνήθη, I thought to change it to impf. active this way:
ἥνπερ πολὺν χρόνον ἡ πόλις ἀναισχυντότατ᾿ ἀπηρνεῖτο.

διαφέρω according to LSJ could mean bear trough, bear to the end in context of war/struggle which seemed to be along the lines
of persevere, but maybe use διατελῶμεν (from this dictionary you provided. I like it already :)). δή was an unnecessary addition, i agree.

I did not realize that οὔποτε basically cancels the emphatic negation in ού μή. Thanks. if ἄν should always be post-positive and
not repeated, is this rendering more acceptable?
οὐ παυσόμεθα, ὦ ἄνδρες, ἕως ἂν ἀπολέσωμεν ταύτην τὴν αἰσχύνην τοῦ χριστιᾱνικοῦ ὀνόματος καὶ ἐλευθερωθῶμεν τῆς αἰτίας ὑφ᾿ ᾗ νυνὶ πονοῦμεν καὶ παντάπασιν ἐξέλωμεν ταύτην τὴν αἱματηρὰν ἐμπορίαν...

Thanks for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it. :)
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Re: William Wilberforce: For the Abolition of Slavery (1791)

Postby modus.irrealis » Sun Sep 19, 2010 12:28 am

NateD26 wrote:I was going for sooner than not, as I know it's common to say in English but I realize it's not a Greek expression.

Ah, now I see -- I didn't even think of that (I have to say it's not quite common for me). But yeah, I don't think it works in Greek.

I know that "their" in my translation was lacking, I initially thought it could be implied but I'm sure that was wrong of me and it should be written.

That's a tricky question, and I'm not sure either what the natural thing to do with it would be, because like you say, it is regularly implied (in Attic Greek at least) and maybe because of the "emphasis" here τούτων would be more natural if you want to be explicit.

Maybe we can say τὴν ἀναγνώρισιν τὴν τοῦ ἀνθρωπείου αὐτῶν, the recognition of their human nature as oppose to
being treated inhumanly before.

The only thing I would change is to τὴν ἀναγνώρισιν τοῦ ἀνθρωπείου αὐτῶν -- the second τὴν suggests a contrast with some other recognition.

After reading your comment about ἀπηρνήθη, I thought to change it to impf. active this way:
ἥνπερ πολὺν χρόνον ἡ πόλις ἀναισχυντότατ᾿ ἀπηρνεῖτο.

Looks good to me.

δή was an unnecessary addition, i agree.

I wasn't trying to say unnecessary but the position of the particle seemed odd -- I saw what you were trying to say, though. I looked for examples but couldn't find anything similar.

I did not realize that οὔποτε basically cancels the emphatic negation in ού μή.

I forgot to post my example from Hippias Major: καὶ οὐ μή ποτε ἐλεγχθῶ. Another useful thing is to search for English phrases on Perseus and then look at the underlying Greek that the translator was translating.

if ἄν should always be post-positive and
not repeated, is this rendering more acceptable?
οὐ παυσόμεθα, ὦ ἄνδρες, ἕως ἂν ἀπολέσωμεν ταύτην τὴν αἰσχύνην τοῦ χριστιᾱνικοῦ ὀνόματος καὶ ἐλευθερωθῶμεν τῆς αἰτίας ὑφ᾿ ᾗ νυνὶ πονοῦμεν καὶ παντάπασιν ἐξέλωμεν ταύτην τὴν αἱματηρὰν ἐμπορίαν...

Yes, that's what I was thinking.
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