The Mimiamboi of Herodas

translated by Douglass Parker

Douglass Parker (1927-2011)

States of Mime was still a work in progress when its translator, the legendary Douglass Parker, died in 2011. Parker worked on the text in fits and starts from the late 1980s onward, sometimes setting it aside for long stretches, and signs of its prolonged and interrupted composition may be evident in the version presented here, which dates from the early 2000s. Rough seams in the text are not always ironed out - note, e.g., the inconsistency of the stage South-by-Southwest accents chosen to reflect the archaic Ionian of Herodas's Greek, or the spike in the level of comic mannerism as Parker himself moved from his own late style to his very late style. But conspicuous as they are, these seams are left in place to become part of the bumpy texture of a rowdy work designed for the tumble of performance. Also left in place are the translator's verbal representations of attitudes towards social categories such as ethnicity, gender, and class exhibited by the historical original but largely abandoned in our own era.

Virtually all of Parker's translations presuppose a performing voice. Through he recognized, as his lecture notes on Herodas indicate, that the original text was probably meant for a single actor, Parker imagined his translation for a small ensemble. He workshopped several versions through the '80s and the '90s at evening readings by friends, students, and colleagues at the University of Texas at Austin in the kind of informal occasion that was common in the Classics Department at the time. A number of different scripts with different cast lines remained among his papers at his death. So far as I know, there have been no other productions of States of Mime than these.

William Levitan
Professor of Classics Emeritus
Grand Valley State University

States of Mime by Douglass Parker

A PDF of Parker's translation: Volume 14, Number 10