Translatio studii et imperii

Emily Greenwood

in Afro-Greeks

Published in print January 2010 | ISBN: 9780199575244
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191722189 | DOI:

Series: Classical Presences

Translatio studii et imperii

Show Summary Details


This chapter proposes that one of the ways in which Caribbean Classics has been liberated from the colonial curriculum is through the rejection of the idea of a continuous transmission of empire from Rome's empire to the British Empire. Starting with Austin Clarke's The Polished Hoe (2002), the chapter traces variations on this theme in V. S. Naipaul (The Mimic Men (1967), and A Bend in the River (1979) ), and the poetry of Derek Walcott. These writers each play with the misquotation and mistranslation of Latin in modern Caribbean literature in order to expose gaps and elisions in British colonial appropriations of Classics. It transpires that the misquotation of Latin in these texts is not a simple matter. Particularly in Clarke and Naipaul, misquotation shows up a miscarriage in the process of translation and, correspondingly, a miscarriage in the succession of empire. If the classical texts quoted in colonial contexts mean something else, or are misquoted, then the narrative of imperial continuity (the translatio studii et imperii) loses cogency.

Keywords: Austin Clarke; V. S. Naipaul; Derek Walcott; misquotation; translatio studii et imperii; British Empire; Latin in the Caribbean; sweet talk

Chapter.  29201 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.