Translating Classical Plays : Collected Papers book cover
1st Edition

Translating Classical Plays
Collected Papers

ISBN 9780367875688
Published December 12, 2019 by Routledge
282 Pages

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Book Description

Translating Classical Plays is a selection of edited papers by J. Michael Walton published and delivered between 1997 and 2014. Of the four sections, each with a new introduction, the first two cover the history of translating classical drama into English and specific issues relating to translation for stage performance. The latter two are concerned with the three Greek tragedians, and the Greek and Roman writers of old and new comedy, ending with the hitherto unpublished text of a Platform Lecture given at the National Theatre in London comparing the plays of Plautus with Sondheim’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. The volume is an invaluable resource for anyone involved in staging or translating classical drama.

Table of Contents



List of illustrations and copyright


Part 1 Translation in English



Chapter 1 ‘An Agreeable Innovation’: Play and Translation

from Lianeri, Alexandra and Vanda Zajko (eds 2008), Translation and the Classic, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 261–7. By permission of Oxford University Press.

Chapter 2 Theobald and Lintott: A Footnote on Early Translations of Greek Tragedy

from Arion Third Series, 16.3, Winter 2009, pp. 103–110.

Chapter 3 Benson, ‘Mushri’ and the First English Oresteia

from Arion, 14.2, Fall 2006, pp. 49–67.

Chapter 4 Business as Usual: Plautus’ Menaechmi in English Translation from Olson, S. Douglas (ed. 2014), Ancient Comedy and Reception: Essays in Honor of Jeffrey Henderson. Berlin and Boston: de Gruyter.

pp. 1040–61. By permission of De Gruyter, Berlin and Boston.

Part 2 Processes and Issues


Chapter 5 ‘Good Manners, Decorum or the Public Peace’: Greek Drama and the Censor

from Billiani, Francesca. (ed. 2007), Modes of Censorship and Translation: National Contexts and Diverse Media. Manchester & Kinderhook: St Jerome Publishing, pp. 143–66.

Chapter 6 Vacuum or Agenda: The Translator’s Dilemma

from Classical and Modern Literature, 27.1, (2007, pub. 2008),

pp. 93–120.

Chapter 7 Transfusion or Transgression: the translator as director in Medea

from Symposia Proceedings of the X (2000) and XI (2002) International Meetings on Ancient Greek Drama. Athens (2008): The European Cultural Centre of Delphi, pp. 195–205.



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J. Michael Walton is Emeritus Professor of Drama at the University of Hull, UK.


Michael Walton is a rare and important scholar in that he has brilliantly united his detailed knowledge of theatre studies with classical scholarship and his work as a translator of ancient drama. His groundbreaking insights into the art of translating classical works for the modern stage have been invaluable to both scholars and practitioners for many years. Now we are able to appreciate the wide range of his vital work collected in this spirited, thought-provoking and inspiring volume.

- Professor Peter Meineck, New York University, USA


... [a] coherent quasi-monograph that testifies to its author's vigorous and rigorous engagement and passion for performance translations of ancient Greek and Roman theatre. It is also an enjoyable read seasoned with humour, serious business balanced out by historical anecdotes, and with an acute sense for live performance.

- Professor Pavel Drábek, University of Hull, UK, in the Journal of Adaptation in Film & Performance