[Next Project] Short Works by Epictetus

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Weijia Cheng

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Apr 21, 2022, 12:07:54 PMApr 21
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A couple of months ago I left a comment on our production of the Enchiridion, pointing out some issues I saw with the production. The consensus that Alex and I came to is that the production doesn't conform to modern SE standards (apparently it was the first SE book!) since today we would want an omnibus of all of Epictetus's short works.

As Alex and I discussed, I would redo the production by creating an omnibus from
Long's complete translation. The omnibus would consist of the Enchiridion and Epictetus's fragments which have been transcribed at Perseus. I would reuse the existing Enchiridion cover, so no need for new art.

I'm suggesting the title "Short Works" since I think it's pretty idiomatic to refer to a philosopher's writings generically as "works" (c.f. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) and we have an example of Elizabeth Carter's translation of Epictetus referring to all of his writings as "works."

(I'm still thinking about how to fix the Kobo poetry build issue but I'd like to get an ebook project rolling while I'm working on that.)

Alex Cabal

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Apr 21, 2022, 1:01:48 PMApr 21
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Does Epictitus have any *long* works? If not, then we can simply title
this volume "Essays" or "Dialogues" or something like that.

Would you be able to look at the Kobo code first? I think it's important
to get that out there as it directly affects your previous ebook, and
possibly other ebooks in the corpus. I have another change affecting se
build lined up in master, so if we can reach a conclusion on the Kobo
issue soon I can release a small version bump to fix everything at once.

On 4/21/22 11:07 AM, Weijia Cheng wrote:
> A couple of months ago I left a comment
> <https://github.com/standardebooks/epictetus_the-enchiridion_elizabeth-carter/issues/4>
> on our production of the Enchiridion, pointing out some issues I saw
> with the production. The consensus that Alex and I came to is that the
> production doesn't conform to modern SE standards (apparently it was the
> first SE book!) since today we would want an omnibus of all of
> Epictetus's short works.
>
> As Alex and I discussed, I would redo the production by creating an
> omnibus from
> Long's complete translation
> <https://archive.org/details/discoursesepicte00epiciala>. The omnibus
> would consist of the Enchiridion
> <http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.01.0236:text=enc>
> and Epictetus's fragments
> <http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.01.0236:text=frag>
> which have been transcribed at Perseus. I would reuse the existing
> Enchiridion cover, so no need for new art.
>
> I'm suggesting the title "Short Works" since I think it's pretty
> idiomatic to refer to a philosopher's writings generically as "works"
> (c.f. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
> <https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/epictetus/#LifWor>) and we have an
> example of Elizabeth Carter's translation of Epictetus
> <https://www.google.com/books/edition/All_the_works_of_Epictetus_Which_are_now/DVpZAAAAcAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0>
> referring to all of his writings as "works."
>
> (I'm still thinking about how to fix the Kobo poetry build issue but I'd
> like to get an ebook project rolling while I'm working on that.)
>
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Weijia Cheng

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Apr 21, 2022, 1:03:33 PMApr 21
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Yes, Epictetus does have a "long" work, which would be the Discourses which we already have.

Alright, I'll reprioritize on the Kobo code and see what I can do with that.

Weijia Cheng

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Apr 23, 2022, 10:09:27 AMApr 23
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Ok, since I put in the Kobo code fix, I am going to start this under the title "Short Works" (in contrast with the "long" work of the Discourses) unless Alex has any objections.

Weijia Cheng

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May 6, 2022, 9:06:32 PMMay 6
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I've gotten through the Encheiridion and into the Fragments, where I've hit my first roadblock. There is an internal grouping of some fragments with the description "The fragments which follow are in part assigned to Epictetus, in part to others," offset by horizontal rules, on these pages (440-443): https://archive.org/details/discoursesepicte00epiciala/page/440/mode/2up?view=theater

I am a little unsure of how to represent this. My thought is creating a section around these fragments, so that the code looks something like this:

<section id="fragments-136" epub:type="chapter"> // the preceding fragments all get this own chapters, like this
...
</section>
<section id="fragments-partially-assigned-to-epictetus">
  <hr/>
  <p>The fragments which follow are in part assigned to Epictetus, in part to others.</p>
  <section id="fragments-137" epub:type="chapter">
    ...
  </section>
  more sections ...
  <section id="fragments-168" epub:type="chapter">
    ...
  </section>
  <hr/>
</section>

But this seems a bit kludgy, putting <hr/>s at the beginning and end of a section like that.

Alex Cabal

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May 6, 2022, 9:27:29 PMMay 6
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You can omit the hrs and add hr-like styling using ::before. This is
better semantics but with a more desirable appearance.
> /Discourses/) unless Alex has any objections.
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Weijia Cheng

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May 17, 2022, 8:12:15 AMMay 17
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Head's up, I did a manual tweak to the ToC because we have an untitled section for internal grouping (see above), so you should expect build-toc to create a change.

Alex Cabal

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May 17, 2022, 1:47:21 PMMay 17
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François Grandjean

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May 17, 2022, 2:42:26 PMMay 17
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Sure! It might take a while to check, though, given the nature of the beast.

François Grandjean

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May 18, 2022, 3:14:00 PMMay 18
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This went faster than expected. Nice and clean work, Weija! I’ve logged a few nitpicks for you to check.

This, on the other hand, may require Alex’s input:

The way the fragments are currently organised works, but I wonder if there isn’t a better way—the fact that you had to manually alter the ToC leads me to believe that.

Right now, each fragment is in its own section element until those partially assigned to Epictetus (line 562). At that point there is a new section (same level as the individual fragments that came before) with all the other fragments as children. The same thing happens again on line 693.

I wonder if it wouldn’t make more sense to have the first set of fragments in its own section with each fragment as child, like the other two. Or to possibly have each set in their own file. That would keep them all on the same levels and solve the TOC modification.

Speaking of which, if we do keep things as they are, the manual TOC modification should be mentioned in the production notes.

Weijia Cheng

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May 19, 2022, 8:43:48 AMMay 19
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Thanks for the review, François! I've addressed all of the comments.

François Grandjean

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May 19, 2022, 10:29:11 AMMay 19
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Alright, it looks good on my end.

Over to you, Alex. The only thing left is to decide what to do with the fragments and the ToC. There’s the option to leave it as it is since it works but will require manual editing of the ToC when/if it is rebuilt.

Alex Cabal

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May 20, 2022, 3:04:54 PMMay 20
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Now that I compare the two, I regret going with the Long translation.
With them side by side I think Higginson/Carter's translation is clearer
on its face, much less contorted, and Long has that infuriating habit of
putting parenthesized alternate readings all over the place that is
disruptive to read.

It looks like our current Enchiridion might be a slightly tweaked
version of this 1919 edition credited to Carter, which also includes the
fragments: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/100213009

There is the "abridged" Higginson translation (credited in the preface):
https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/100489174 But without reading it I
don't know how "abridged" it is compared to what we currently have.

Maybe we can release this one for now, but plan to supersede it with the
Higginson/Carter/Brothers translation at some point later. Carter did
the fragments as well. What do you think?

On 5/17/22 7:12 AM, Weijia Cheng wrote:
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>
> >
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>
>
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Weijia Cheng

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May 20, 2022, 7:45:12 PMMay 20
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I can see what you mean, though I maybe the difference in style is a consequence of the translator's intent. It seems Long's translation is most academic and based on textual scholarship, whereas the various revisions of Carter's translation are more for general readership. (Also, I don't think that 1919 edition has the complete fragments.) I agree that Long's translation is a bit contorted but I wonder if that's sometimes just a reflection of issues in the underlying text. My understanding is that classical texts like these are often transmitted in a somewhat garbled form (this happens with texts as widely copied as the Hebrew Bible) and I think for something philosophical and technical like this a bit of contortedness can be excused.

I do agree that the parenthesized Greek words and alternative readings are really bad for the QoL. I think a reasonable compromise that would make Long's translation much more readable for the general audience in the absence of an obviously better translation is to simply move the parenthesized Greek words and alternative readings to footnotes. (I'd keep the parenthesized phrases that are insertions to make the text clearer, which don't force you to context-switch and read things out of order.) So Fragment V, which is

Check (punish) your passions (πάφη), that you may not be punished by them.

would become something like

Check<n1> your passions<n2>, that you may not be punished by them.
<n1>: Or punish.
<n2>: πάφη.

Fragment VI has a parenthesized explanation that could be moved to a footnote

Do not so much be ashamed of that (disgrace) which proceeds from men’s opinion as fly from that which comes from the truth.

so

Do not so much be ashamed of that<n> which proceeds from men’s opinion as fly from that which comes from the truth.
<n>: Disgrace.

Fragment VII has a parenthetical insertion that makes the text clearer and doesn't cause a context-switch so it can be left as-is:

If you wish to be well spoken of, learn to speak well (of others): and when you have learned to speak well of them, try to act well, and so you will reap the fruit of being well spoken of.

This might be a somewhat tedious and largely manual effort but I'm not against doing it. Your call, Alex.

Vince

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May 20, 2022, 8:43:59 PMMay 20
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I have no dog in this hunt, so this is just a curiosity question—what makes your second and third examples different?

That is, “disgrace” is describing “that”, and “of others” is describing “speak well”. It would seem that either they both cause a “context switch” or neither do, but I’m not seeing how the former does and the latter doesn’t. What makes them different to you? (Again, just a curiosity/learning question, i.e. trying to be educated on what I’m missing.)

Weijia Cheng

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May 20, 2022, 9:49:41 PMMay 20
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Well, for me the difference is that in the third example, you can just read the words in the printed order and it makes perfect sense. Imagine if we took out the parentheses. Then it would read:

"If you wish to be well spoken of, learn to speak well of others: and when you have learned to speak well of them, try to act well, and so you will reap the fruit of being well spoken of."

That's a sentence that makes perfect sense. What about for the second example?

"Do not so much be ashamed of that disgrace which proceeds from men’s opinion as fly from that which comes from the truth."

That wouldn't make as much sense, because "disgrace" is a word to substitute in for "that." In order to process this sentence as you are reading it, you have to mentally rewrite it so that instead of saying "Do not be so much ashamed of that..." it reads "Do not be so much ashamed of disgrace..."

Though, maybe for consistency's sake you'd just want to move all of them to endnotes. I don't know, there doesn't seem to be one obvious way to go about this.

Vince

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May 20, 2022, 9:56:28 PMMay 20
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Interesting. “That disgrace” makes perfect sense to me. I didn’t read is a substitution, but as a clarification of what the “that” was he was referring to.

Thanks for the clarification!

Weijia Cheng

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May 20, 2022, 10:47:38 PMMay 20
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Yeah, maybe that wasn't the best example, though I think the second half, "as fly from that which comes from the truth," might hint towards "disgrace" being a substitution since there's a parallel structure there.

A better example might be Fragment XVI, "They are amusing fellows, said he (Epictetus), who are proud of the things..."

Alex Cabal

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May 20, 2022, 11:19:45 PMMay 20
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I don't know if all that work would really be worth it. We're not in the
*absence* of other translations - Higgins/Carter is good - we're just
confused about the many editions of H/C that exist, and whether there's
a scans and a transcription of some specific edition out there.

Long's parentheticals are only part of the problem. I also think that
generally his prose is convoluted and inelegant, especially when
compared side by side with H/C.

I know he's largely writing for an academic audience. But in my opinion
the job of a translator is to present their decisive, final vision of
the work, which will necessarily require some compromise and
interpretation; not to leave it up to the reader to piece together with
alternate glosses inlined everywhere, that even if absolutely necessary
would have been better as footnotes. And SE was never, and still isn't,
a project that's concerned with academia - we're concerned with the
general modern reader.

In any case, if you want to change them to endnotes let me know. But if
not then let's just release this as it is. In either case let's make a
note in our wanted list that at some point we want the Higgins/Carter
translation to supersede this but that it requires research and possibly
transcription.

So unless someone out there is excited to work on that while it's fresh
on our minds, it'll probably be quite some time before we get to that.

I should have looked at Long closer before we started this - my fault.

On 5/20/22 6:45 PM, Weijia Cheng wrote:
> I can see what you mean, though I maybe the difference in style is a
> consequence of the translator's intent. It seems Long's translation is
> most academic and based on textual scholarship, whereas the various
> revisions of Carter's translation are more for general readership.
> (Also, I don't think that 1919 edition has the complete fragments.) I
> agree that Long's translation is a bit contorted but I wonder if that's
> sometimes just a reflection of issues in the underlying text. My
> understanding is that classical texts like these are often transmitted
> in a somewhat garbled form (this happens with texts as widely copied as
> the Hebrew Bible) and I think for something philosophical and technical
> like this a bit of contortedness can be excused.
>
> I do agree that the parenthesized Greek words and alternative readings
> are really bad for the QoL. I think a reasonable compromise that would
> make Long's translation much more readable for the general audience in
> the absence of an obviously better translation is to simply move the
> parenthesized Greek words and alternative readings to footnotes. (I'd
> keep the parenthesized phrases that are insertions to make the text
> clearer, which don't force you to context-switch and read things out of
> order.) So Fragment V, which is
>
> Check (punish) your passions (πάφη), that you may not be punished by them.
>
> would become something like
>
> Check<n1> your passions<n2>, that you may not be punished by them.
> <n1>: Or /punish/.
> <https://groups.google.com/d/msgid/standardebooks/b0d6f05a-b069-4a95-bf2c-93cd2a641394n%40googlegroups.com?utm_medium=email&utm_source=footer
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>
>
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Weijia Cheng

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May 20, 2022, 11:49:45 PMMay 20
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Ok, that makes sense. I feel satisfied with what I've done and I still think this is an improvement over what we currently have. I think the idea of just releasing it as it is now is best.

Alex Cabal

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May 26, 2022, 12:36:42 PMMay 26
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