Guidelines for Translators

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Translating an inscription is a job that raises several questions. With these guidelines we intend to give some suggestions for dealing with specific issues, such as punctuation, diacritic signs, abbreviations, etc. However, these are not mandatory requirements and translators are free to drift from them, should they need to. You can also use the Attic Inscription Online guidelines, of which we offer a summary here.

At present, these guidelines include only a small number of questions regarding translations but many more should be considered. They are an excerpt, for full reference see: F. Bigi, Towards an EAGLE Standard in Translating Inscriptions, in Proceedings of the First EAGLE Conference Paris, forthcoming.

Help us improve this section by submitting any further issue or question that you think needs clarification or that should appear among the guidelines using the Talk page in the wiki or sending an email to Working Group 2 - Translations and Content Curation.


Each translation is to be accompanied by a short title describing briefly the inscription. The title may also contain a reference to the type of monument or an indication of the rank of the awarder/honorand, or any other relevant information:

  • Statue base with dedication to Augustus
  • Dedicatory inscription of the arch of Tiberius
  • Stele with funerary inscription for Flaminia Agave
  • Base for statue of Theodorus, governor of Achaea


Description of a drawing should not be translated. EG:



Minor fragments, fragmentary texts or too fragmentary parts of an otherwise translatable texts should not be translated. Eg:

[...]di [...]tis [... Ne]ptuni [...]n
[Imp(eratore) Caes(are) Nerua Tr]aiano [Au]g(usto) Ger(manico) D[acico] [pontif(ice) max(imo) trib(unicia)] pot[est](ate) XVII im[p(eratore) VI co(n)s(ule) VI p(atre) p(atriae)] / [·· ? ··]VEV[·· ? ··] / [---]// [·· ? ··]nio[·· ? ··] //[·· ? ··]ell[·· ? ··]// [·· ? ·· h]onora[·· ? ··] / [·· ? ··]rauit [·· ? ··]
When the emperor Caesar Nerva Trajan Augustus Germanicus Dacicus was chief priest, holding tribunician power for the seventeenth time, acclaimed victor six times, consul six times, father of the country [...]

Diacritic signs and punctuation

Generally, it would be best to avoid diacritic signs as much as possible, as users might get very confused by their proliferation; yet there are cases in which they are needed.

  • Round brackets conventionally used for resolving an abbreviated word should never appear in the translation:
Annobal praef(ectus) sacr(orum) Himilchonis Tapapi f(ilius) Rufus d(e) s(ua) p(ecunia) fac(iendum) coer(auit) idemq(ue) dedicauit.
Annobal, in charge of sacred things, son of Himilcho Tapapius Rufus, saw to the construction at his own expense and also dedicated it.
  • Square brackets should also be omitted when the whole text is restored to full intelligibility and/or the proposed integrations are marked by the editor as certain. This applies for example to names of Gods and persons, religious, administrative and military posts, parts of the imperial titulature or parts of single words, etc:
[Deo Her]culi gen[io] colon[iae] Le[pcitani p]ublice.
not: [To the god He]rcules, genius of the colony, the people of Lepcis (set this up) publicly.
instead: To the god Hercules, genius of the colony, the people of Lepcis (set this up) publicly.
  • Those words or concepts that are frequently omitted in the Latin text - such as ponere, conlocare, wife of, etc - should appear in the translation but their insertion should be easily detectable, thus it should be properly marked within round brackets:
Deo Herculi genio coloniae Lepcitani publice
To the god Hercules, genius of the colony, the people of Lepcis (set this up) publicly
  • Lost portions devoid of integration, either at the end or at any other point of the inscription, should be signaled like in original text by means of [...] or [---] and never with ....
''Titus Flauiu[s ·]arinus centurio legionis [...]''
''Titus Flavius [···]arinus, legionary centurion [...]''

As far as punctuation is concerned, even when lacking in the Latin edition, translators should be encouraged to use it. The insertion of commas, semi-colons and especially full stops when the end of text is preserved is a simple yet very useful mean of increasing the text's intelligibility.

Names, offices and formularies

  • Proper names should generally be transcribed in the nominative case, e.g.: Quintus Servilius Candidus.
  • Proper names of emperors or well known historical figures can be translated into a modern language, e.g.: Augusto, Giulio Cesare, Trajan, etc.
  • Cognomina ex virtute such as Germanicus, Parthicus and similar are preferably to be rendered with 'victor over the Germans' or 'victor in Parthia' and not, as frequently done in Italian, 'Germanico' or 'Partico'.
  • Specific religious, administrative and military offices may be rendered with the tecnical derivative word, but a synthetical explanation should follow. E.g.: flamen (priest); sufete (local magistrate).

Abbreviations in Latin Inscriptions