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Translating the Heavens

Aratus, Germanicus, and the Poetics of Latin Translation


D. Mark Possanza

Germanicus Caesar’s translation of Aratus’s celebrated astronomical poem, Phaenomena, is crucial for the study of the poetics of Latin translation. Building on the foundation of translation studies, Translating the Heavens investigates how Germanicus rewrote the Phaenomena as an Augustan aetiological poem that subverts the religious and philosophical themes of the original. In Germanicus’s version the map of heaven becomes an Ovidian firmament of love and transformation. Translating the Heavens shows that the poetics of Latin translation far surpasses in complexity and sophistication the conventional notion of the translator as an interlingual scribe who mechanically substitutes the words of one language for the words of another.