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Cicero, On the Good Life

Today I felt like re-reading Cicero’s De Amicitia, one of my favorite of his works, but things took a turn for the not-so-good life when I picked Michael Grant’s translation, included in the Penguin edition of the collection of Cicero’s works known as On the Good Life.

Pictured above, the offending translation. Caveat emptor.

Calling this thing a translation of Cicero would be like calling a blobfish a whale. One is a majestic marine mammal, and the other is a flabby fish that never should have left the stygian depths to see the light of day, yet somehow became a popular media sensation. Even this metaphor does not truly express the debasement Penguin has brought upon Cicero, and also does a great injustice to the blobfish, which is really not all that bad.

I could go on, but in the interest of my blood pressure, I will leave it at that. Peace, love, don’t read this book, amen.


Updated Apr 16 to clarify: it’s not technically a bad or inaccurate translation, it just takes something very precise and elegant, and turns it into something very nonspecific and marketable. As I said: flabby.

Published inTranslations

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