Aristophanes' Modern Translators: Translation as Criticism.
Modern translations of Aristophanes display definite, if varied, attitudes toward the poet and his art, and the critical implications of these translations provide a useful index to current thought about Old Comedy. The differing approaches of the late-Victorian and modern schools of translation comment not only on the tastes of the two periods with regard to staging and the ethics of bowdlerization but also reflect two widely different conceptions of ancient comedy and its role in the modern world. The failure of most modern tranaslation to meet Aristophanes on his true poetic level perpetuates the mistaken critical notion that he is a second-rate poet and a panderer to popular taste. Indeed, the conscious or unconscious adherence to this assumption accounts for a great deal of the unsuccessful translation during the last two decades. Successful renderings of the poet proceed from a respect for the beauty and poetic unity of the Greek original and are most frequently made by men who are themselves poets. Successful translation must not only interpret the original text for the modern age; it must also rival it as an imaginative, unified, and sophisticated work of art.