Thursday, March 25, 2010

Benefactors of humanity


More than once in the past I have said that Roger Pearse is a benefactor of humanity. It still seems to be true. Why is he our benefactor? He has taken it upon himself translate or commission translations of a great many early Christian works which have until now been available only to people who could read the original languages. Some people think that's fine -- if you don't know ancient Greek you would not understand these sources anyway -- but that's not my attitude, nor is it Roger's. As someone who has studied late antiquity and read a lot of obscure Christian literature from that era, I am in awe of Roger's generosity. The translations that he posts and otherwise gives away are not a complete substitute for the originals, but they make available part of the cultural and religious legacy of early Christianity to many new people.

I was inspired to say something about Roger by a blog post he published today, just one of the interesting posts of his that I've read since I discovered he had a blog. the Post announces a new translation of Hippolytus's Chronicon, one of the very first world chronicles written by Christian, in this case a third century Roman clergyman who eventually was martyred. (He is sometimes considered the first antipope.) In an earlier incarnation I had to know something about Hippolytus; it would have been nice to have this translation then.

But one of the interesting things about this new translation is that it is not, as far as I can tell, one of Roger's projects! There is another benefactor of humanity out there and this person is named T. C. Schmidt. Thank you very much, T.C.!

Image: Hippolytus being martyred, dragged behind a horse, from the Wikipedia entry on him.

4 comments:

  1. Hi Steve, to my eyes it looks more like he's been pulled apart by two horses (instead of the usual four); a typical punishment for high treason (England) or regicide (France). But I agree that H is said to have been killed by being "bound by the feet unto the necks of wild horses (plural) and ... drawn among thorns, briars and rocks".

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  2. Your encouragement is very kind, and very much appreciated!

    I'm glad that you took the time to notice Tom Schmidt's work also -- it must have been a thankless and lonely task for him, but he has benefitted us all.

    Most ancient Greek texts are untranslated. That goes for the proverbs of Zenobius, just as much as for sermons of Chrysostom and Severian of Gabala. Many of the texts are quite short. So anyone who has a go at any of them and posts the result online does everyone a favour!

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  3. Thank you for posting this. I was aware of Roger's work of course through the CCEL and Tertullian.org (and updates he posts on Mediev-L and elsewhere) but not that he had a blog - and was completely unaware of Tom Schmidt.

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  4. That's a great image. It's like a snapshot that was taken about five seconds too late, after the subjects had moved out of the intended frame.

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