Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Heilig's Interlinear Trot

Back in the days of high school Latin, "trots" were all the rage. These interlinear translations, available for the major Roman authors -- Virgil in particular -- were much sought after and prized.

For those interested in the intricacies of Ovid's native tongue, it seems there's an 1889 trot for several selections from the Metamorphoses by George W. Heilig, available, praised be Google, here as a Google book that can be accessed online and searched, or downloaded to your hard drive as a .pdf file.

For some reason I find that a trot helps me "see" certain words that previously were somehow invisible - not only in the English translators, but also somehow I've missed them in the Latin text. One example is the word sollertia (skill, shrewdness, ingenuity, dexterity, adroitness, expertness) in the passage about Deucalion and Pyrrha. I've checked a few translators, and none has captured Deucalion's use of sollertia here:
More's rendering (on the Perseus site) seems closest (compare your translation):
Oracles are just
and urge not evil deeds, or naught avails
the skill of thought.
Deucalion is saying humans have a gift, or skill, or adroitness, which if truly a gift ought not to be useless. But such a skill would be useless if the Oracle were telling us literally to find our actual mothers' bones and toss them behind our heads. So we must use our sollertia to find another way to understand this. Trusting the Oracle, in other words, means submitting to the necessity of discovering her meaning "in other words" - which happens to be the root meaning of allegory.


  1. What is the origin of the term 'trot?'

  2. I was surprised not to find an explanation. Here's a guess. The term was used in England, along with two synonyms: "pony" and "crib" - see:


    where is found:

    "Meaning "crib of a text as a cheating aid" (1827) and "small liquor glass" (1849) both are from notion of "smallness" (the former also "something one rides")"

  3. Is this a truly complete interlinear? I noticed 'selections' in the title.

  4. I have skimmed it but have yet to locate lacunae - not sure!