"The Marriage Trap," or, "A List of Problem Translations of Epicurean Texts."

  • Due to recent catches by Elli in problem translations of key Epicurean passages, I have set up a tablewhere I would like to compile a list of them, with a preferred translation and documentation of sources of the alternatives. I know we have discussed more than Vatican 35 and 66. If people here are aware of passages which they think are questionably translated it would be great if you could mention them so I could add them to this list and make it accessible.

    I have a series of others I want to add to the list myself. One of the most troublesome is the passage in Diogenes Laertius in which Epicurus either advises "for" or "against" marriage, depending on the translator.

    There is a maddening discrepancy in the various translations of Diogenes Laertius in the crucial “Wise Man” sequence. CD Yonge’s 1853 translation reports that Epicurus thought marriage to be a bad idea: “Marriage, they say, is never any good to a man, and we must be quite content if it does no harm; and the wise man will never marry or beget children, as Epicurus himself lays down in his Doubts and in his treatises on Nature. Still, under certain circumstances in his life he will forsake these rules and marry.”

    The Loeb Classical Library version of the R.D. Hicks translation, which dates from 1931, concurs: “Nor, again, will the wise man marry and rear a family: so Epicurus says in the Problems and in the De Natura. Occasionally he may marry due to special circumstances in his life.”

    But Cyril Bailey in his 1926 translation says the opposite: “Moreover, the wise man will marry and have children, as Epicurus says in the Problems and in the work On Nature. But he will marry according to the circumstances of his life.”

    Is Bailey leading us into a trap with a problem translation? Or in this case does Bailey have the better view?

    If you have comments on this or other problem translations, please add them here. Commentary on the Marriage issue would be good to discuss here.

    The Table Is Here at This Link: