Nicola Reggiani
Università di Parma
ORCID 0000-0001-9798-9887
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Fact and Fiction of “Translators” in the Greek Papyri: Question of Interpretations
Dedalus 26 (2022), pp. 27-47. Download PDF


The purpose of this article is to present and discuss the double status of translators-interpreters (ἑρμηνεῖϲ) in Graeco-Roman Egypt through the analysis of their attestations in the papyrological sources. The discussion will first take into consideration their historical role, which went beyond the purely linguistic field that nevertheless was a pivotal function in a multilingual and multicultural country such as Egypt under the Ptolemaic and Roman rule. Indeed, it has been ascertained that the skills of the people called “interpreters” encompassed a wider area of “mediations,” even including the conversion between measure units. The picture that emerges is that of what we may call “cultural mediators.” Then, the discussion will consider their fictional role, which reflected their real function and adapted it to literary translations that were cultural mediations as well.
Keywords: ancient translators; ancient interpreters; multilingualism in ancient Egypt; Greek papyri