- Alexandrovodas the Unscrupulous1
Aλεξανδροβόδας ο Aσυνείδητος is a three-act play authored by G. N. Soutsos in 1785. The work had circulated in manuscript form from the end of the eighteenth century onwards and was read in Constantinopolitan and Danubian Phanariot circles. Its first publication in 1995 by Dimitris Spathis was based on a thorough, time-consuming study of the four extant manuscripts. My translation followed when Isis Press in Istanbul requested an English version, accompanied by a user-friendly introduction, for non-Greek speaking Ottomanists and broader eighteenth-century historians.
Given the colloquial quality of the dialogue, as well as the particularities of the Phanariot dialect, which was mainly Greek but involved many Hellenized Ottoman and other foreign words, the translation presented several pitfalls. As my text was addressed to scholars, Ottomanists, theater specialists, and eighteenth-century historians of ideas, I opted for a rendition that would hew as closely as possible to the original. Hence, I chose accuracy over performability, bearing in mind that neither the original nor my translation was meant for the stage. In order to obtain this level of accuracy, I had to understand fully all the more or less obscure words in the text, and I sought advice mainly from specialists of eighteenth-century Ottoman, Greek, and Romanian. I translated everything into English, but used words in italics to designate Hellenized Ottoman words in the original.
In order to facilitate the understanding of the issues at stake within the play, I have followed the example of the Greek editor of the text in providing explanatory endnotes. The original text has an awkward ring to it and I chose to convey that stiltedness in the translation, to the extent that it did not impede the reader’s understanding. [End Page 287]
alexandrovodas, Ruler of Moldavia
zapheira, his wife
spatharēs stephanos missoglous, his chief of cabinet
domnitza rōxandra, sister of Alexandrovodas and wife of Spatharēs Missoglous
hatmanos alexandros missoglous, secretary and brother of Stephanos
euphrosynē, his wife
christodoulos vlachoutzēs, Pacharnikos, secretary of the two secretaries and brother-in-law of the Missoglous family
domnitza soultana, stepsister of Alexandrovodas
dragoman manolakēs, second secretary
kōstakēs philodōros, big kamarasis (chief chamberlain)
nikodēmos, big portaris (chief doorman)
kernitzēs, a confessor
tarsē, Alexandrovodas’s mistress and one page [End Page 288]
Act I, Scene 9
alexandrovodas, then manolakēs, and at the end philodōros
<This> Philodōros is very loyal and capable. Some who are willing to bad-mouth him say that he is a spender. And what if he is, why should people care? He is hurting his own purse. I am fortunate to have people who are capable and loyal.
What do you wish?
Do come, so that I might see you.
I came earlier, but you were busy with the kamarasis.
Busy? You are no stranger either …
What do I know? Maybe some people are not particularly pleased to see me close to you often.
And who are they?
Who do you think? Archon Spatharēs Missoglous, a most kind person, but it is exactly the good people that can be tricked. And then me, as your servant, I couldn’t possibly be wanting to harm the pacharnikos? Could I?
Have they said anything to you?
No, but after seeing me two or three times in your quarters, they have started glaring at me. I don’t mess with either their deals or their accounts, and I am the humblest servant of all.
It might have seemed to you.
It’s possible. People are fickle. What they fancy today is not to their taste tomorrow. And this might be due to one’s mood. It’s possible that your servant might have been a victim of his mood as well. I tremendously value the archon Spatharēs, may God be my witness. Moreover, this poor pacharnikos I treat him like a brother. (He laughs.) Ha, ha, ha, ha.
But why are you laughing?