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Un dessein si funeste, S\'il n\'est digne d\'Atree, est digne de Thyeste.

English translation: "Such a baleful scheme, while not worthy of Atreus, is worthy of Thyestes"

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19:34 Aug 15, 2000
French to English translations [Non-PRO]
Art/Literary
French term or phrase: Un dessein si funeste, S\'il n\'est digne d\'Atree, est digne de Thyeste.
Last line of Edgar Allen Poe's "The Purloined Letter".

'They are to be found in Crebillon's "Atree"'
David A. De Witt
English translation:"Such a baleful scheme, while not worthy of Atreus, is worthy of Thyestes"
Explanation:
Oops! That will teach me to assume a name is the same in French and English! Ignore the previous translation.

As a matter of interest, Atreus is, according to my dictionary, "the son of Pelops and brother of Thyestes, wigh whom he was at variance. He invited Thyestes to a banquet and served up to him the flesh of the latter's own children, at which the sun turned back on its course in horror."

Thyestes seducted his brother Atreus' wife and also commited incest with his sister, from which action was born Aigisthos (don't know the name in English...) who is then adopted by Atreus... and more and more convoluted happenings in this story of the Atreides family.

I would think that the author meant that the horrible scheme described in the story, while not as bad as Atreus' actions (not worthy of him), is nevertheless bad enough to be compared with what Thyestes did. Does that make sense?
Selected response from:

Louise Atfield
Grading comment
Thank you very much, it made the story so much more fulfilling to understand the quotation.

Sincerely,
D.A. De Witt

4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
nafor info
Nikki Scott-Despaigne
naSome info from the classics department at Princeton:Heathcliff
na"Such a baleful scheme, while not worthy of Atreus, is worthy of Thyestes"Louise Atfield
na"Such a baleful scheme, while not worthy of Atree, is worthy of Thyeste. They are to be found (etc)"Louise Atfield


  

Answers


44 mins
"Such a baleful scheme, while not worthy of Atree, is worthy of Thyeste. They are to be found (etc)"


Explanation:
This really brings back some memories of another French text, a drama in which I played as a teenager...

Different words could be used such as "deadly" or "fatal" for "funeste", and "design", "purpose", "intention" for "dessein", but I prefer to use the translation I used above. The choice is yours, though...

Louise Atfield
PRO pts in pair: 300

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
Heathcliff
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1 hr
"Such a baleful scheme, while not worthy of Atreus, is worthy of Thyestes"


Explanation:
Oops! That will teach me to assume a name is the same in French and English! Ignore the previous translation.

As a matter of interest, Atreus is, according to my dictionary, "the son of Pelops and brother of Thyestes, wigh whom he was at variance. He invited Thyestes to a banquet and served up to him the flesh of the latter's own children, at which the sun turned back on its course in horror."

Thyestes seducted his brother Atreus' wife and also commited incest with his sister, from which action was born Aigisthos (don't know the name in English...) who is then adopted by Atreus... and more and more convoluted happenings in this story of the Atreides family.

I would think that the author meant that the horrible scheme described in the story, while not as bad as Atreus' actions (not worthy of him), is nevertheless bad enough to be compared with what Thyestes did. Does that make sense?

Louise Atfield
PRO pts in pair: 300
Grading comment
Thank you very much, it made the story so much more fulfilling to understand the quotation.

Sincerely,
D.A. De Witt

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
Heathcliff
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

1 hr
Some info from the classics department at Princeton:


Explanation:
AEGISTHUS: The uneaten son of Thyestes. Aegisthus (understandably) bears a grudge against Atreus and his sons. In the Odyssey Aegisthus kills Agamemnon himself, whereas in the Oresteia Klytemnestra does the deed. Aegisthus dies alongside Klytemnestra, at the hands of Orestes.

ATREUS: The son of Pelops and brother of Thyestes. The two brothers quarrelled about the succession and Atreus served up most of Thyestes' children to him at a feast. Atreus was father of Menelaus and Agamemnon.

THYESTES: The son of Pelops and brother of Atreus. He seduced his brother's wife, Aerope, and she gave him the golden lamb which was the symbol of Atreus' power. Atreus took revenge by killing most of Thyestes' children and serving them up to him. The story forms the background to the Oresteia and is told by the Roman author, Seneca, in his tragedy, Thyestes.

AGAMEMNON: The son of Atreus and brother of Menelaus; one of the leaders of the Greek expedition to Troy to reclaim Helen. He sacrificed his own daughter, Iphigeneia, at Aulis in order for the Greeks to be able to continue their journey to Troy. On his return home to Argos with Kassandra he was murdered. In the Odyssey Homer shows the dead Agamemnon telling Odysseus how Aegisthus killed him, while Klytemnestra killed Kassandra. In Aeschylus' play Agamemnon, however, Klytemnestra herself is responsible for killing Agamemnon.

AEGISTHUS: The uneaten son of Thyestes. Aegisthus (understandably) bears a grudge against Atreus and his sons. In the Odyssey Aegisthus kills Agamemnon himself, whereas in the Oresteia Klytemnestra does the deed. Aegisthus dies alongside Klytemnestra, at the hands of Orestes.



    Reference: http://www.princeton.edu/~rhwebb/thyestes.html
Heathcliff
United States
Local time: 21:30
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 953
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5 hrs
for info


Explanation:
If you are into this sort of stuff and want a great read, sit down with a copy of La Machine Infernale de Jean Cocteau. Clytemnestra, Orestes and company get up to all sorts of mischief. Stuffed full of things to talk about. Great story. The greeks certainly had a sense of continuity - the first soap operas?!

Better still, go and see it, that's what plays are meant for.

Nikki Scott-Despaigne
Local time: 06:30
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 4412

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
Heathcliff
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