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The New Translations

The Loeb Classical Library features English translation facing the original Greek or Latin text, page by page. In order to present translations that are as up-to-date and accurate as possible, new Loeb editions have departed from an earlier tradition of euphemizing or bowdlerizing material that might be considered offensive.

Earlier Loeb editions took pains to remove or edit any passages that “might give offense,” usually references to sex and homosexuality. Such material was relegated to the footnotes, where the true meaning might be hinted at or translated into an unrelated language (such as Italian). While these convoluted attempts to disguise the risqué nature of the texts were often amusing in and of themselves, the newer translations better preserve the spirit and meaning of the original texts.

Excerpt from a facing-page translation of a work by Aristophanes, newly retranslated to include the original 'adult' themes

Excerpt from a facing-page translation of a work by Aristophanes, newly retranslated to include the original ‘adult’ themes

As an example, in the updated Loeb translation of Aristophanes, two characters are discussing the poet Agathon, notorious in Athens for his promiscuous homosexuality (see image).

In an earlier Loeb edition, the final line of this excerpt was translated: “I fear there’s much you don’t remember, sir.” A footnote then gave in Latin the real meaning of the Greek line.

The new Loeb translations were covered by the New York Times in September, 2000: O Profligate Youth of Rome, Ye #*!, Ye @#! (See Footnote)

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