“Ex uariis metri generibus”: Two ‘Metrical’ Neo-Latin Translators of Greek Tragedy across the English Channel


  • Angelica Vedelago Università degli Studi di Verona




Among the corpus of Neo-Latin drama, translations from Greek tragedy are an interesting area of inquiry for the study of Neo-Latin metre, as translators are poised between Greek and Latin metrical patterns. Following Continental models such as Erasmus, two sixteenth-century playwrights from the British Isles, George Buchanan and Thomas Watson, undertook the translation of Greek tragedies and were confronted with their metrical complexity, particularly in the choruses. However, thanks to the prosodic education which they received at local grammar schools and at university and which they later perfected on the Continent, Buchanan and Watson were able not only to understand but also to try and reproduce the metre of the Greek original in their Neo-Latin versions, which in different ways deserve the definition of ‘metrical translations’. Moreover, since their plays were conceived for an educational context and meant to be performed by students, Buchanan and Watson’s handling of metre was in all likelihood conditioned by didactic aims.

Keywords: Neo-Latin metre; Neo-Latin translation; Greek tragedy; George Buchanan; Thomas Watson; Erasmus