Harry Potter, in Latin and Ancient Greek

OpinionJournal points out the curious translation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone into Latin and Ancient Greek. As someone who took two years of Latin in High School, and learned more English in the process than he did in English class, I find it amusing. I doubt I remember even the barest amount necessary to read the book.

I also find it amusing that they don't know what's driving the decision:

For his part, Andrew Wilson, the retired British secondary-school teacher who translated Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (as the first Harry Potter book is titled outside the U.S.) into the language of Plato for Bloomsbury, wouldn't be surprised if J.K. Rowling, the author of the best-selling series, was behind the decision to translate it into Ancient Greek, a language so dead that modern Greeks are fond of saying of it, “It's Greek to us!”

J.K. Rowling is now one of the most affluent people in England, and I wouldn't doubt she would spend money on things that were not immediately profitable. However, as a gag gift such books may be popular after all.

Mr. Wilson, the Potter translator, is no stranger to this objection; he's been asked more than once by sniffy fellow classicists why he would bother with such a frivolous project. His answer is as refreshing as it has been, by his account, effective in silencing the critics. “I did it for the money,” he announces cheerfully. That's an answer that makes sense in any language.

So, this Christmas, keep an eye out for Hareios Poter Kai he tou Philosophou Lithos and Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis, in hard back, at $15 each.

Josh Poulson

Posted Thursday, Oct 21 2004 10:10 AM

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