When I was studying Church History (it was quite extraordinary actually, we had one two-hour long lecture on the entire Counter-Reformation period!), we looked at the Christological controversies surrounding the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon, A.D 451. I found this fascinating, and I took it upon myself to further my knowledge of this period in the history of orthodoxy. My tutor showed me an old Latin and Greek edition of St Leo's famous Tome to Flavian, and he suggested that when my Latin were sufficient, I might like to read it myself. That was over 2 years ago now, and in August of last year, I took it upon myself to translate the Tome (don't get me wrong, my Latin is still far from perfect!). I blogged about some very fine verses from it in the Summer.
At the beginning of last year, I ordered the complete Acts of the Council of Chalcedon in three volumes, translated and arranged by Dr Richard Price (probably the most intelligent man I have ever spoken to, and an expert in early Church History) and Michael Gaddis. It is noteworthy that this is the first complete translation of the Acts into any modern Western language, which themselves are perhaps the longest surviving text from the ancient world. They are very revealing of the Imperial politics of the time and the loyalties and concerns of the Bishops. One thing I find interesting is the honorifics; ''that most blessed and apostolic man, Leo,'' ''the most devout presbyter,'' ''the most God-beloved'' so-and-so etc. It seems, however, that these honorifics no more express admiration than when English Members of Parliament refer to eachother as ''the right honorable Gentleman'' - the Preface citing at least one incidence: ''The most devout Anastasius, having neither the fear of God before his eyes nor respect for the laws of your piety...''
Anyway, famously, at Session II of the Council, the Tome of Leo, Archbishop of ''Senior Rome,'' was read out by Veronicianus, ''the hallowed secretary of the divine consistory.'' Dr Price has for his edition of The Acts translated not the Latin original, but the Greek version, since this was the version read at the Council at this point and because Latin translations are ''region.'' According to the Acts, the Greek translation of the Tome is faithful but not slavish - Eduard Schwartz being so impressed by its quality that he surmised that it was produced at Constantinople under the aegis of the empress Pulcharia. Anyway, the point of this long-winded post is that last night I read the English translation of the Greek text alongside the Latin original in Volume II of the Acts. Even in English translation the text is very melodious, and St Leo was a master of Latin.
That small section of the Tome which I translated last year included this sentence: Similis est rudimentis hominum quem Herodes impie molitur occidere; sed Dominus est omnium quem Magi gaudent suppliciter adorare. Now, I translate this as: ''He is like the beginning of Men whom Herod strives impiously to kill; but he is the Lord of all whom the Magi rejoice humbly to adore.'' I cannot find an online Greek version (even if I could read it anyway!) but Dr Price has translated this sentence as saying: ''He whom Herod impiously plots to kill is like human beings newly born, but it is the master of the universe whom the Magi rejoice to worship with supplication.'' I remember that I had difficulty translating rudimentis, because on the surface the word means ''beginning;'' but the sense in which the Greek/English version reads, it appears to mean something more like ''innocence;'' ''newly born'' as Dr Price renders it. I wish that I had spotted that, but I guess that this just shows the importance in reading the works of others in works of translation - this is not cheating. Dr Price checked Russian and French translations of the Tome I believe...