Ἐχθές (The Beatles’ “Yesterday” in Ancient Greek)

Allegra Forbes |

The Fab Four’s Classic Song Sounds an Appropriate Note for a Classicist

 

 

 PICTURE TITLE TEX

 

[Editor’s note — With all of our focus on Latin karaoke songs, we don’t want to give the impression that they can’t (and aren’t) being done in Ancient Greek as well. This one was sent to us by a reader of our magazine, Vanya Visnjic, who did the translation several years ago. We tried it out and it goes beautifully. For those whose Greek is rusty, even the briefest practice with a song like this reveals just how useful familiar melodies are for generating comfort with a language. You may not remember that πέποιθα is from πειθώ, “to persuade,” and in the passive with the dative means “to have been convinced of”, or “to believe in” — and so “ὢ ’γώ πέποιθα τῷ χθίζῳ” is “O I have gained belief in yesterday.” A fine theme for a Classicist, and a classic song to boot. P.S. — Medium doesn’t seem to like grave accents on Greek letters, so we’ve had to go with slantless accents in place of grave ones.]

 

YESTERDAY / Ἐχθές (McCartney/Lennon)(tr. Vanya Visnjic)[1965

 

Τέως μέν ἄλγη τηλοῦ μευ ἐφαίνετο,

νῦν δέ παραμένειν ἐμαυτῷ,

ὢ ’γώ πέποιθα τῷ χθίζῳ.

 

Ἄφνω δή οὐχ ἥμισύς εἰμι ἐμαυτοῦ,

κρέμαται σκιά τις ὑπέρ μου,

καί ταῦτ’ ἐξ ἀπροσδοκήτου.

 

Τί κείνη φύγεν

οὐ μὲν οἶδα, οὐδ’ ἔφη.

Φθέγξας τι κακὸν

νῦν ποθῶ τὸ παρελθό-ο-ο-ον.

 

Τέως μέν ἔρως ῥᾴδιον ἦν παίγνιον,

νῦν δ’ ἀποκρύψασθαί με χρεών,

ὢ ’γώ πέποιθα τῷ χθίζῳ.

 

 The Beatles arrive at JFK airport, 1964 (from Wikimedia Commons).
The Beatles arrive at JFK airport, 1964 (from Wikimedia Commons).
Subscribe

Sign up to receive email updates about new articles

Allegra Forbes

In Medias Res is the online magazine for lovers of Latin and Greek, published by the Paideia Institute.

Comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.