I need translations of Plato's Republic in as many languages as possible
August 21, 2018 7:16 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to be running a Plato's Republic reading group in the fall for an extremely multicultural group of undergraduate students. I'm looking for good translations of Republic in as many languages as possible, paper and/or free-online. What do you recommend?

My theory is that nervous students might feel more comfortable participating if they have a copy of the book available in their first language. I know that Mandarin is needed, that Urdu, Ukrainian and Spanish will probably be in demand, and that absolutely any language translation could plausibly be helpful to a participant (I don't yet have a participant list).

Part of my problem is that I can't evaluate the reliability of non-English translations. Availability is also a concern for me here in Canada. This is not part of a course, so I won't have a bookstore mass-ordering for me, making it helpful to know where a copy could be ordered.

Even mediocre translations would be very good to know about if freely available online. I'm trying to make sure that the reading group is accessible as possible, and free is a good thing on a student budget.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow to Education (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think this is a sweet idea! I do want to suggest, though, that depending on how you plan to facilitate the reading group, this approach may make it difficult for students to point to passages in the text, or come to a shared understanding of the concepts in the text, since they're likely to use different terms for those concepts. You could offer the texts as supplements to a common translation (probably an English one, assuming that's the school's language of instruction), but I would guess the students are unlikely to have sufficient free time to go over the text in both their native languages and in English, leading to a lot of discussion time spent clarifying and developing a shared understanding.

That said: Bloom's translation is considered by many to be among the best, as it's quite literal, and I know it's available in a Chinese edition (though free seems unlikely). I haven't seen a Spanish version. I'm not sure about Urdu, although a partial translation by Zakir Hussain may exist as "Riyasat." I'm afraid I can't vouch for any of these.
posted by halation at 7:39 PM on August 21, 2018

Bloom's translation is available as a pdf for free. Jowett's translation is available for free from Project Gutenberg.

It looks like there is a French translation on google books, but I can't find a complete copy in one place: looks like it's broken up by volume. This appears to be volume one.

This appears to be Books 1 through 4 in Greek with some English introductions, though I am not very confident about it.

Google also appears to have two volumes of the Republic in German (fraktur!) here and here. I can't tell whether there are further volumes or whether something is being abridged or what.

And this appears to be Greek and Latin on alternating pages.

You might be able to get other translations through google. I'm a bit out of my depth on checking for other languages.

This appears to be a translation into Spanish. It's a strange copy, though, since it has lots of marginalia recorded as comments in a word document!
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 12:24 AM on August 22, 2018

For Hungarian, here's an older, free translation which used to be the standard. The biggest problem with this resource is that it's missing the Stephanus numbers.

On paper, currently the best edition is the one done by Atlantisz but it's out of print at the publisher. This edition is perfect for study - a summary at the start, copious footnotes, an essay about the Repulic at the end, done by the best classics scholars in Hungary.
posted by kmt at 12:55 AM on August 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Jowett's translation is available for free from Project Gutenberg.

I think that's considered to be a bad translation by contemporary ancient philosophy folks.
posted by thelonius at 2:07 PM on August 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Even native-English-speaker undergrads find the Jowett to be pretty rough going, in my experience; it's in idiomatic English, but the idioms date back to around 1890. The free Bloom is a far better choice for an English version.
posted by halation at 3:06 PM on August 22, 2018

Here's a Hindi translation available online, translated by Bholānath Śarmā.

There's also a Marathi translation by Janārdan Gaṇeś Jogḷekar (जनार्दन गणेश जोगळेकर), titled "Plēṭōcī ādarśa rājyaghaṭanā" (प्लेटोची आदर्श राज्यघटना), but I can't find it available anywhere, online or offline.
posted by Senza Volto at 8:46 AM on August 24, 2018

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