ABSTRACT

Although More's Utopia is a work for which classical Greek language and literature are central, it was not until 1970 that the work was translated into Greek. During the sixteenth century, Greek scholars bypassed the fundamental texts of Renaissance humanism, clinging instead to the classical Greek past. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Greek intellectuals also ignored Utopia, partly because the nature of their Westernizing agenda did not attract them to a work embedded within the tradition of Catholic Latinate cosmopolitanism. By the last quarter of the nineteenth century, when the term utopia entered Greek intellectual life, “scientific socialism” had also made its first appearance in Greek political culture, possibly preempting the desire to translate a work that would now appear to constitute the source of an already obsolete canon of “utopian socialism.” Tellingly, the textual life of More's Utopia in Greek began during the military junta. Its first translation arguably deploys it as a text charged by the desire for egalitarian democracy while at the same time privileging its satirical and playful aspects, partially in order to avoid state censorship. Though there are important differences regarding the framing of More's text by the four extant translations in modern Greek, the overall tendency seems to be to receive Utopia as a fundamentally political text, a text capable of inspiring thought, and perhaps action, during dire and challenging times.

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