Oftentimes the initial translations that we make in class come out sounding stilted and unnatural. This is primarily for two reasons: Latin uses more subordination in its prose than English does, and Latin also uses more participles. The key to making a more polished translation is dividing up a long Latin sentence into several, smaller English sentences. In addition, participles should often be turned into subordinate clauses.
For example, look at a literal translation of sentence two (line 3) from Roman Heroics.
These troops, because of the similarity of their arms, thoroughly scared our men, and although they noticed the right shoulders having been uncovered, a sign which had been decided to be peaceful, nevertheless the soldiers thought that it itself had been done by the enemies for the sake of tricking them.Cleaned up, perhaps the translation would look more like this:
These troops frightened our men very much, since their uniforms looked similar to those of the enemy. Even though our men noticed that the Aeduans' right shoulders were exposed, a sign which marked friendly troops, they thought that it had been done by the enemy in order to trick them.
|Did you know that Caesar was once captured by pirates in 75 BC? It is said that he was so insulted by the amount by which he was being ransomed that he doubled it! While he was waiting to be ransomed, he treated his captors with contempt and swore that he would hunt them down after his release. He did, in fact, do this. He conscripted a navy, hunted them down, and had every last pirate responsible crucified!|
* Image taken from Nardo's "Caesar's Conquest of Gaul,"
San Diego: Lucent Books. 1996.