Well, Peter -- 'ancient' was
tough to translate, you're right.
Indeed, in Italian we tend to
make such adjectives become nouns -- we'd never say 'ancient women' ('vecchie
donne'), we'd say simply 'vecchie'.
Ancient could also be
translated through 'antico' ('antique'), or 'vetusto', with a strong Latin
ethymology. But I don't think Italian readers should lose the basic
representation of the scene, that is, the image of old women doing something.
When translating, one mustn't say nothing more and nothing less than the
original text meant.
So, I thought it better to
just translate 'ancient women' with 'vecchie'. Also -- it's funny, though -- we
have a very common saying that goes 'è vecchio come il mondo' ('it's as
old/ancient as the world'). You see -- it's the same adjective, which can bear a
stronger figurative sense. That saying saved my life...
Thanks as always (to Nancy
Gish also!) for all your help and suggestions.