Beautiful infidels are “translations that, to please and conform to the taste and decorum of the time, are versions ‘revised and corrected’ by conscious translators (too, no doubt) of their language and their judgment superiority “. (Paul Horguelin)
In the seventeenth century for ex., the French language imposed in Europe, and “beautiful infidels” appear. These are translations that try to recover the Greek/Latin authors up to date, changing to get a “good translation”. This process has been strongly criticized for translation differ from the original. For example, it does not reflect the bad words, one avoids the scenes of drinking-orgy-sodomy, not “shock the reader.” The name “beautiful infidels” also comes from a critical, comparing one of these translations with a “woman who was beautiful but unfaithful.”
The leader of this free translation is Nicolas Perrot d’Ablancourt (1606-1664). He translated, among other, Cicero, Tacitus, Julius Caesar. He was followed by others, dubbed the “perrotins”. Him, he believed in his faithful translations. At the beginning of these translations, there is always a long introduction of several pages to justify the changes. These translators ‘modernize’ the texts, transposition of translation to the public.
In response to this free translation, many other translators offer accurate translations, and returns to the original meaning of the translation.