Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Debra Nousek


In my dissertation I argue that Roman translators promote themselves and their work by programmatic statements that indicate a relationship with a source author. Whereas the traditional understanding of translations has focused on ad uerbum and ad sensum translations, I deemphasize the binary division between ad uerbum and ad sensum translations since these terms are insufficient for appreciating the roles that translation can play in a literary system. By focusing on the statements of translators rather than the form of the translations, I elevate the translator as an agent who evaluates his socio-literary conditions and develops a response that capitalizes on those conditions.

I argue that there are three different styles of promotion that the Roman translator uses: the source-representative, the allusive, and the independent. The source-representative translator associates himself closely with the source, establishing his translation as the primary avenue to an accurate representation of a foreign author. The allusive translator strengthens his own position as an artist and asserts his own creative ability by encouraging comparison with established writers before distinctively embedding his own original material into the translation. Finally, the independent translator rejects the authority of the source author and endorses himself as more knowledgeable than the source.

My first chapter contextualizes the statements of Roman translators by examining similar statements from post-Classical translators who promote their own form of translation as the superior way in which to access the source author. In my second chapter I analyze source-representative translation in Livius Andronicus’ Odusia and Ennius’ Annales. Chapter 3 reviews source-representative translation in Roman comedy with a focus on how Terence uses his translations to displace the drama of Plautus. In my fourth chapter I address allusive translation by showing how Catullus symbolically rejects translation and how Horace advertises his poetry as Roman songs played on a Greek instrument. In my final chapter, which concentrates on independent translation, I discuss how Cicero advertises his role as a judicious translator whose translation enhances and even replaces the source work. In each chapter I identify the programmatic statements that the translator uses to encourage the acceptance of his translation.