The Millionaire's Dinner Party
EPUB EBook by Maurice Balme
EBook DescriptionThe purpose of this review is not to state whether or not this book is good or bad, but to say whether or not it works well as a piece to be translated. The Millionaire's Dinner Party EPUB EBook I think it would be rather hard to say whether or not the story itself is good or bad because this is only part of the Satyricon and it is only part of the "Dinner Party" section. So... There are a few things wrong with this book and the things that are wrong (I use this word loosely because there isn't really a right or wrong) are the same things that are wrong with any book like this. By this I mean that Balme decides what notes to give you in the side section, he decides what English translation to give the words in the vocabulary section, and he decides what to leave in or take out of the "Dinner Party." Every editor or translator does this, but sometimes it is an outright problem in Balme's version (and sometimes it's just hilarious).
First, I would like to say that Balme's adaptation is good. His notes are usually helpful and it's great as a grammar review. In the back, Balme has a section for each chapter that has reading comprehension questions (great if you're translating this on your own) and sentences from each chapter (sometimes the sentences are a little different to fit the grammar) so that you can review the grammar from that chapter. For example, chapter 4 has reading comprehension questions then a section titled "a. Past participles of active verbs" and a list of sentences in Latin for review (ex. Vestimenta a servo peridta vix fuerunt decem sestertiorum). This is really helpful if you need to study for a test or if you just want to brush up on your grammar.
Each chapter in this adaption has the story on the right side and then a list of some vocabulary on the left. The vocabulary on the left is generally words that might be hard to find in a dictionary or they're phrases that might not make sense if translated directly. The notes are really usually helpful with the exception that, at times, the notes actually don't tell you what the word is saying. For example, in chapter 3 the words "Falernum Opimianum" are given on the left side. Normally, there is a translation following the Latin (apparatus 'equipment'), but for Falernum Opimianum there is just an explanation with no definition. This one is pretty straight forward so the definition isn't wholly necessary, but this is a recurring problem throughout the book (and it becomes rather frustrating after hours of translation).
The other "problem" is that Balme is British and so some of the translations are funny for speakers of American English. In chapter 6, someone is described as "homo vafer et magnus stelio" which the note describes as "a thief and a slippery rogue." In chapter 9, Balme delightfully tells us that "to mix verses from these farces with Virgil would be like mixing music- EPUBhall jokes with Milton." Balme, at some points, comes off like the character 'Buzz Killington' from Family Guy.
Balme also chooses which vocabulary words to include in the back. In The Student's Catullus, which comprises all 113 poems, every single vocabulary word is in the back. But in Balme, you need to have a dictionary standing by. I'm sure the words he chose to put in the back were based on some kind of system, but for the purposes of the American college student in Latin 202, it seems random. In some cases, very simple words are in the back (like 'albus'), but other, harder words are nowhere to be found. Again, this isn't a real problem, but it becomes rather obnoxious after hours of translation. Balme also decides what translation to have for each word. Latin is ambiguous so sometimes a word can mean 'crazy' as well as 'angry' despite both meaning different things in English. So, at times, there's a word like 'putare' which means 'to clean' OR 'to think.' What happens, then, is Balme puts the first definition ('to clean') in the back of the book when there is maybe only one instance within the whole story that 'putare' means 'to clean' instead of 'to think' (this example is a made-up one. I don't think 'puto, putare' shows up in the vocabulary section at all).
This leads us to the final problem... Originally (I believe - please correct otherwise) this version was used to further educate English schoolboys in Latin. This weighed heavily on what was or wasn't taken out and this is really okay except when the student gets to chapter 10. In this chapter, Trimalchio and his wife, Fortunata, suddenly begin to fight. And, really, I do mean suddenly. Everything is perfectly fine and then the two of them are fighting (and really — they're fighting. Trimalchio throws a cup at Fortunata and hits her in the face). As it turns out, Balme had to remove the part that led up to the fight because it was inappropriate for schoolboys to read (Trimalchio starts making out with his male slave and this would've probably been okay had the slave not been a child).
So... I would recommend this book if you are using it to translate with someone (preferably someone who knows Latin really, really well). If you want to translate on your own, I would recommend The Student's Catullus. Some of the poems in that book are very hard to translate (poem 64 is a spirit destroyer), but you can find translations of all of Catullus' poems online. And so, if you are translating all by your lonesome, I would recommend that. There are, of course, many translations available online for the Satyricon, but I think it would be difficult to find a translation of, specifically, Balme's version (to be honest, I haven't looked so please correct me if I'm wrong). I also think it would be better if you had someone explaining why Balme's version is the way it is.
Please note that this review is written from the point of a view of a Classics major who just finished Latin 202. I'm not a Classicists or a researcher or even a master at Latin. This review is really intended for average students who are trying to decided whether or not this would be a good book to translate by themselves. Like this book? Read online this: Cassell's New Latin-English, English-Latin Dictionary, How to Host a Killer Party (Party Planning, #1).
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