Harry Potter? It's All Greek to Me
Feb 20, 8:39 am ET
By Tim Castle
LONDON (Reuters) - Harry Potter becomes "Warrior Cup" and his enemy Voldemort "Scaly Death" in a translation of the schoolboy wizard's adventures into Ancient Greek due for publication this summer.
Retired classics teacher Andrew Wilson told Reuters he had to stretch his linguistic ingenuity to turn J.K. Rowling's magic boarding school fantasy into a language not used for 1,500 years.
Wilson, 64, was commissioned in January 2002 by publisher Bloomsbury to translate "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" into the Greek spoken in ancient Athens.
The book, the first in Rowling's multi-million-selling series, has already been translated into 60 languages and is available in 200 countries.
Wilson delivered his manuscript last month.
"It was a lot of hard work but the most fun hard work I've ever done," he said about the year he spent reading ancient authors and searching through dictionaries to find the appropriate style and vocabulary.
Wilson says his translation is the longest text to have been produced in Ancient Greek since the romantic writings of Heliodorus in the third century AD.
"I suspect very few people will read it all the way through," he said. "You will need a degree in Ancient Greek to get a great deal out of it."
But Wilson hopes students studying the ancient language will enjoy reading extracts of the book as a "relaxation."
Wilson modeled his translations for modern words such as computer and motor car on the quaint style of 19th century Greek.
For the book's own invented terms like broomstick game Quidditch and Harry's school Hogwarts he had to be more imaginative and make up his own words.
Quidditch becomes Ikarosfairike or "Ikarus ball" -- in a reference to the mythological boy who few too high -- while Hogwarts is Huogoetou, deriving from words meaning "hog" and "wizard."
Harry Potter is Hareios Poter. Hareios means "belonging to Ares," the war god, or "warrior" and Poter, a "cup" or "goblet."
Lord Voldemort, Potter's nemesis, becomes Folidomortos, which literally means "scaly death."
"Ancient Greek has a massive vocabulary," said Wilson. "Now it's got a slightly bigger one."
Bloomsbury publishes the translation on July 10.