Purpose: I will compare two English translations of the myth “Pyramus and Thisbe” from Ovid’s Metamorphoses (8 CE).
Translator No. 1: Michael Simpson, year of publication (2003)
Translator No. 2: Elaine Fantham, year of publication (2004)
Thesis: After reviewing the two translations, I will argue that the version by Michael Simpson is superior to the version by Elaine Fantham. I tend to prove the claims by critically analyzing certain texts from the passage and how the meaning is brought out for the reader to understand.
In carrying out the analysis, special attention will be on book four. We shall look at the love relationship between Pyramus and Thisbe, the reaction of the society about their relationship and how it affected the outcome. We realise that, in as much as other people are not part of the love relationship, their attitude towards the reunion is likely to jeopardise its ending. The two lovers, Pyramus and Thisbe showed a lot of determination and vowed to keep each other close despite the challenges that they faced. They never had the privilege to stay together as husband and wife, but their deaths reveal how much they felt for each other.
In the first analysis, we shall look at the reaction of Thisbe when he came across the copse of his lover Pyramus.
Firstly, when you look at the content of the description, Simpson has given us a detail description of the events that followed before Thisbe killed himself. One can almost picture the scene, when Thisbe is overwhelmed by shock and the last words he said before he took up the sword and stabbed himself. Fantham on the other hand only gives us a summary of what happened. One can almost think that the decision was made without any extra thought. It seem as if he was not shocked at the death of his lover and hastily took up the sword and killed himself.
Secondly, I will look at the initial stages of Pyramus and Thisbe’s relationship. How they longed to be with each other yet they could not because of the big wall that separated them. Their parents were also against their relationship, yet this could not hinder them from keeping in touch.
Again, in this passage of literature, Simpson gives us a detail description of the emotional attachment that the two lovers had towards each other. The choice of his words reveals to the reader how much attached they were, even though they were not physically close. They both understood how they felt for each other and knew that even though they may never marry, they will forever belong to each other. On the other hand, Fantham makes it difficult for the reader to understand the intensity of attachment that the two lovers had. He in fact shifts the attention from the story and takes us back to a similar occurrence in Shakespeare. Fntham assumes that everyone who is reading his translation is well familiar with the other story, which is not true. There is a mix of scenes in Fantham translation that the reader might be confused of the wall he is talking about.
Fantham, Elaine. Ovid's Metamorphoses. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.
Simpson, Michael. The Metamorphoses of Ovid. London: Univ of Massachusetts Press, 2003.