Establishing a Scientific Discipline and Translating Antiquity: Halil Demircioğlu’s Strategic Preferences

Gören E.

in: Übersetzerforschung in der Türkei II, Mehmet Tahir Öncü,Emra Büyüknisan, Editor, Logos Verlag Berlin, Berlin, pp.227-251, 2021

  • Publication Type: Book Chapter / Chapter Research Book
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Publisher: Logos Verlag Berlin
  • City: Berlin
  • Page Numbers: pp.227-251
  • Editors: Mehmet Tahir Öncü,Emra Büyüknisan, Editor
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: Yes


The translation of the Ancient Greek and Latin corpus into the vernacular languages of Europe
has been a current problem for translators since the Renaissance. Indeed the root of the
problem can be traced back as far as such Latin orators as Cicero striving to translate Ancient
Greek works. It can be stated that the strategic decisions taken in the translation of influential
ancient texts played a dominant role in the establishment of every relevant scientific discipline.
For instance, the philosophical terminology filtered through Cicero’s approaches determined
philosophical conceptions for long periods, while the translation of Ptolemy played a paramount
role in establishing the modern science of astronomy. That’s why there is a widespread belief
that both vocabulary preferences and strategies to convey the original style in the sources
employed in a certain “scientific translation” would participate in the establishment of a scientific
discipline. The Thucydides translation of Halil Demircioğlu, who was aware of that delicate
balance, aims to establish a certain discipline of historical methodology within set boundaries by
means of strategic preferences, as well as to lay the foundations of history as a scientific
discipline at the university. In this paper I discuss what kind of theoretical discussions were
behind such strategic preferences of Demircioğlu and what sort of consequences those
preferences caused in the outcome of the translation, with the help of sample passages from
the analysed translation. In addition, I attempt to lay out the relation between Demircioğlu as a
historian and his translation strategies, presenting the testimonies of three emeritus professors
of Ancient History who had studied with Demircioğlu in the early stages of their careers.