Hic et nunc: Amy Richlin's Iran Man and the ethics of translating Plautus

Author: Daniel, Clara
Source document: Theatralia. 2020, vol. 23, iss. 2, pp. 143-162
  • ISSN
    1803-845X (print)
    2336-4548 (online)
Willing to challenge the classical tradition, Richlin (2005) adapted the Latin play Persa by Plautus to a contemporary context using American slang and pop culture. Richlin aims at making Roman comedy performable, popular and funny again whether onstage or in the classroom. Is her radical modernisation a form of domestication that is often criticized in translation studies for being unfaithful and unethical? Based upon a comparison between the original Latin text and Richlin's version, this paper questions the ethics of faithfulness which play a major role in translation terminology, a system determined by the traditional polarity between domestication and foreignization. By highlighting the ludic nature of Plautus' comedy (especially the ongoing joke with Greek culture and language), this paper argues that using modern transposition is a heavily Plautine strategy suitable for recovering the immediacy of comedy.
[1] ADAMS, J. N. 2016. An Anthology of Informal Latin, 200 BC–AD 900: Fifty Texts with Translations and Linguistic Commentary . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016.

[2] BEARE, William. 1964 [1950]. The Roman Stage: A Short History of Latin Drama in the time of the Republic . London: Methuen, 1964 [1950].

[3] BERG, Deena and Douglas PARKER. 1999. Plautus and Terence. Five Comedies: Miles Gloriosus, Menaechmi, Bacchides, Hecyra, Adelphoe . Indianapolis/Cambridge: Hackett Publishing, 1999.

[4] BERMAN, Antoine. 1999. La traduction et la lettre ou L'auberge du lointain . Paris: Seuil, 1999.

[5] CANDIARD, Céline. 2019. Roman Comedy on Stage and Screen in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries . In Martin T. Dinter (ed.). The Cambridge Companion to Roman Comedy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019: 350–366.

[6] DEPRATS, Jean-Michel. 1993. Analyse comparative de plusieurs traductions françaises de Roméo et Juliette . In Nicole Vigouroux-Frey (ed.). Traduire le théâtre aujourd'hui? Rennes: Presses universitaires de Rennes, 1993.

[7] DUCKWORTH, George Eckel. 1994 [1952]. The Nature of Roman Comedy: A Study in Popular Entertainment . Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994 [1952].

[8] DUPONT, Florence. 2005. Plaute 'fils du bouffeur de bouillie': la palliata est-elle une comédie grecque en latin ? In Florence Dupont and Emmanuelle Valette-Cagnac (eds.). Façons de parler grec à Rome. Paris: Belin, 2005: 175–209.

[9] DUPONT, Florence. 2007. Aristote ou le vampire du théâtre occidental . Paris: Flammarion, 2007.

[10] DUPONT, Florence and Pierre LETESSIER. 2017 [2012]. Le théâtre romain . Malakoff: Armand Colin, 2017 [2012].

[11] ECO, Umberto. 1985 [1981]. Le comique et la règle . In Umberto Eco. La guerre du faux. Transl. by Myriam Tanant. Paris: Librairie générale française, 1985 [1981].

[12] ECO, Umberto. 2001. Experiences in translation . Transl. by Alastair McEwen. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001.

[13] FAURE-RIBREAU, Marion. 2012. Pour la beauté du jeu: la construction des personnages dans la comédie romaine (Plaute, Térence) . Paris: les Belles Lettres, 2012.

[14] FERRI, Rolando. 2014. The Reception of Plautus in Antiquity . In Michel Fontaine and Adele C. Scafuro (eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Comedy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014: 767–781.

[15] FRAENKEL, Eduard. 2007 [1922]. Plautine elements in Plautus . Transl. by Tomas Drevikovsky and Frances Muecke. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007 [1922].

[16] FRANKO, G. F. 2014. Festivals, Producers, Theatrical Spaces, and Records . In Michel Fontaine and Adele C. Scafuro (eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Comedy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014: 409–423.

[17] GONÇALVES, Rodrigo Tadeu. 2015. Performative Plautus: Sophistics, Metatheater and Translation . Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015.

[18] GRUEN, Erich S. 1990. Plautus and the Public Stage . In Erich S. Gruen. Studies in Greek Culture and Roman Policy. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1990: 124–157.

[19] HALPORN, J. 1993. Roman Comedy and Greek Models . In Ruth Scodel (ed.). Theater and Society in the Classical World. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1993: 191–213.

[20] HARDWICK, Lorna. 2008. Translated Classics Around the Millennium: Vibrant Hybrids or Shattered Icons? In Alexandra Lianeri and Vanda Zajko (eds.). Translation and the Classic: Identity as Change in the History of Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008: 341–366.

[21] HENDERSON, John (ed. and transl.). 2006. Plautus: Asinaria: the one about the asses . Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2006.

[22] HERSKOVITS, David, Douglas LANGWORTHY and Tom SELLAR. 2004. Faithfulness and Playfulness . Theater 34 (2004): 1: 60–65.

[23] HOWARD, Jennifer. 2006. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Translation [online]. The Chronicle of Higher Education 2006: June 2: 1–8. Available online at https://www.chronicle.com/article/a-funny-thing-happened-on-the-way-to-translation/.

[24] JAMES, Sharon L., Timothy MOORE and Meredith SAFRAN. 2015. The 2012 NEH Summer Institute on Roman Comedy in Performance: Genesis and Reflections . The Classical Journal (Special Issue on Plautus in Performance) 111 (2015): 1: 1–9.

[25] LINDSAY, Wallace Martin. 1907. Syntax of Plautus . Oxford: J. Parker, 1907

[26] LÓPEZ-GREGORIS, Rosario and Luis UNCETA-GÓMEZ. 2011. Comedia romana y ficción televisiva: Plauto y la Sitcom . Secuencias: revista de historia del cine 33 (2011): 93–110.

[27] MANUWALD, Gesine. 2019. Plautus and Terence in Their Roman Contexts . In Martin T. Dinter (ed.). The Cambridge Companion to Roman Comedy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019: 17–31.

[28] MAZIERES, Jean-Pierre. 1993. Comment traduire Plaute? In Autour du Miles gloriosus de Plaute: actes du colloque organisé par le CRATA. Toulouse: Presses universitaires du Mirail, 1993: 81–90.

[29] MCELDUFF, Siobhán. 2013. Roman Theories of Translation. Surpassing the Source . New York/London: Routledge, 2013.

[30] MOORE, Timothy J. 1998. The Theater of Plautus: Playing to the Audience . Austin: University of Texas Press, 1998.

[31] MOORE, Timothy J. 2012. Music in Roman Comedy . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

[32] PANOU, Despoina. 2013. Equivalence in Translation Theories: A Critical Evaluation . Theory and Practice in Language Studies 3 (2013): 1: 1–6.

[33] QUESTA, Cesare. 2007. La metrica di Plauto e di Terenzio . Urbino: QuattroVenti, 2007.

[34] REGATTIN, Fabio. 2004. Théâtre et traduction: un aperçu du débat théorique . L'Annuaire théâtral 36 (2004): 156–171.

[35] RICHLIN, Amy. 2005. Rome and the Mysterious Orient: Three Plays by Plautus . Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005.

[36] RICHLIN, Amy. 2017. Slave Theater in the Roman Republic: Plautus and Popular Comedy . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017.

[37] SEGAL, Erich. 1968. Roman Laughter: The Comedy of Plautus . Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1968.

[38] SILK, Michael. 2007. Translating/Transposing Aristophanes . In Edith Hall and Amanda Wrigley (eds.). Aristophanes in Performance 421 BC–AD 2007: Peace, Birds, and Frogs. London: Legenda, 2007: 287–308.

[39] SLATER, Niall W. 1985. Plautus in Performance . Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985.

[40] SLAVITT, David R. and Palmer BOVIE. 1995. Plautus: The Comedies. Complete Roman Drama in Translation . Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995.

[41] TALADOIRE, Barthélemy A. 1956. Essai sur le comique de Plaute . Monaco: Édition de l'Imprimerie Nationale de Monaco, 1956.

[42] VENUTI, Lawrence. 1995: The Translator's Invisibility: A History of Translation . London/New York: Routledge, 1995.