Friday, February 12, 2016


A Tragic Periphrasis for the First Person Singular Personal Pronoun

In Sophocles' Oedipus at Colonus I noticed three examples of ἀνήρ plus the demonstrative pronoun ὅδε used as a periphrasis for the first person singular personal pronoun ἐγώ, at lines 649, 1472, and 1618, all three in oblique cases. The first two aren't listed in Ellendt's Lexicon Sophocleum, s.v. ἀνήρ, category "Cum pronomine demonstrativo addito articulo." In Hugh Lloyd-Jones' translation for the Loeb Classical Library, the first example is translated "me," the others "this man."

The usage is recognized by Liddell-Scott-Jones, s.v. ἀνήρ, sense VI.3 ("ἀ. ὅδε, ὅδ' ἀ., in Trag., = ἐγώ, S.Aj.78, E.Alc.690, etc."), and by Diccionario Griego–Español, s.v. ἀνήρ, sense IV.4 ("usos deícticos ἀνὴρ ὅδε en trág., igual ἐγώ: ἀνδρὸς τοῦδε S.Ant.1034 ἐχθρός γε τῷδε τἀνδρί S.Ai.78, μὴ θνῇσχ' ὑπὲρ τοῦδ' ἀνδρός E.Alc.690"). Probably it's common, but I'd never noticed it before.

P.S. Maybe the usage isn't confined to tragedy. See J. Enoch Powell, A Lexicon to Herodotus (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1938), p. 27, col. 2, who translates an example at Herodotus 1.108.5 (dative case) as "yours truly."

Thursday, February 11, 2016


An Irritable Carcass

Llywarch (attrib.), "Song of the Old Man" ("Can yr Henwr"), tr. Kenneth Hurlstone Jackson (1909-1991), A Celtic Miscellany (London: Penguin Books, 1971), pp. 257-258:
Before I was bent-backed, I was eloquent of speech, my wonderful deeds were admired; the men of Argoed always supported me.

Before I was bent-backed, I was bold; I was welcomed in the drinking-hall of Powys, the paradise of Wales.

Before I was bent-backed, I was handsome, my spear was in the van, it drew first blood — I am crooked, I am sad, I am wretched.

Wooden staff, it is Autumn, the bracken is red, the stubble is yellow; I have given up what I love.

Wooden staff, it is Winter, men are talkative over the drink; no one visits my bedside.

Wooden staff, it is Spring, the cuckoos are brown, there is light at the evening meal; no girl loves me.

Wooden staff, it is early Summer, the furrow is red, the young corn is curly; it grieves me to look at your crook.

Wooden staff, knotty stick, support the yearning old man, Llywarch, the perpetual babbler...

Boisterous is the wind, white is the hue of the edge of the wood; the stag is emboldened, the hill is bleak; feeble is the old one, slowly he moves.

This leaf, the wind drives it, alas for its fate! It is old — this year it was born.

What I have loved from boyhood I now hate — a girl, a stranger, and a grey horse; indeed I am not fit for them.

The four things I have most hated ever have met together in one place; coughing and old age, sickness and sorrow.

I am old, I am lonely, I am shapeless and cold after my honoured couch; I am wretched, I am bent in three.

I am bent in three and old, I am peevish and giddy, I am silly, I am cantankerous; those who loved me love me not.

Girls do not love me, no one visits me, I cannot move about; ah, Death, why does it not come for me!

Neither sleep nor joy come to me after the slaying of Llawr and Gwen; I am an irritable carcass, I am old.

A wretched fate was fated for Llywarch ever since the night he was born — long toil without relief from weariness.
For the original and another translation, see Sarah Lynn Higle, Between Languages: The Uncooperative Text in Early Welsh and Old English Nature Poetry (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1993), pp. 268-271.

Eastman Johnson, Old Man Seated
Related posts:


Girls Running

Homeric Hymn to Demeter 174-178 (tr. Hugh G. Evelyn-White, slightly modified):
As deer or heifers in spring time,
when sated with feeding, bound about a meadow,
so they, holding up the folds of their lovely garments,
darted down the hollow path, and their flowing hair
like a crocus flower streamed about their shoulders.

αἳ δ᾿ ὥς τ᾿ ἠ᾿ ἔλαφοι ἢ πόρτιες εἴαρος ὥρῃ
ἅλλοντ᾿ ἂν λειμῶνα κορεσσάμεναι φρένα φορβῆς,
ὣς αἳ ἐπισχόμεναι ἑανῶν πτύχας ἱμεροέντων
ἤϊξαν κοίλην κατ᾿ ἀμαξιτόν, ἀμφὶ δὲ χαῖται
ὤμοις ἀΐσσοντο κροκηΐῳ ἄνθει ὁμοῖαι.
Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.527-529 (Daphne running from Apollo, tr. Frank Justus Miller, rev. G.P. Goold):
                                            The winds bared her limbs,
the opposing breezes set her garments a-flutter as she ran,
and a light air flung her locks streaming behind her.

                               nudabant corpora venti,
obviaque adversas vibrabant flamina vestes,
et levis inpulsos retro dabat aura capillos.

Βronze statuette of a girl running, from Dodona
(Athens, National Archaeological Museum)


Carpenter's Theorem

Rhys Carpenter (1889-1980), Folk Tale, Fiction and Saga in the Homeric Epics (1946; rpt. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974), pp. 31-32:
It is this direct borrowing from the poet's own experience and from his own surrounding material world that I am terming Fiction. It is this which makes his re-creation of the heroic past seem so immediately present and so vivid. Indeed, since it is fiction which imparts verisimilitude to his scenes, we may say without fear of paradox that the more real they seem the more fictional they are. We may even make of this a theorem to assert that the more an oral poet seems to know about a distant event the less he really knows about it and the more certainly he is inventing. The Greek historian Ephoros understood and formulated this principle very satisfactorily when he declared,
In the case of contemporary happenings we think those witnesses the most reliable who give the greatest detail, whereas in the case of events long ago we hold that those who thus go into detail are the least to be believed, since we consider it highly improbable that the actions and words of men should be remembered at such length.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


Appreciation of Ancient Religion

Ernest Renan (1823-1892), Studies of Religious History and Criticism, tr. O.B. Frothingham (New York: Carleton, 1864), pp. 63-64:
Religions strike so deeply into the inmost fibres of the human consciousness, that a scientific explanation of them becomes, from a distance, almost impossible. No efforts of the most subtle criticism can correct the false position in which we find ourselves placed with regard to these primitive works. Full of life, of feeling, of truth for the people who have animated them with their breath, they are but dead letters, sealed hieroglyphics to us; created by the simultaneous effort of all the faculties acting in perfect harmony, they are for us but objects of curious analysis. To construct the history of a religion, one need not believe it now, but one must needs have believed it once. We rightly comprehend no worship save that which has stirred in us the first impulse towards the ideal. Who can be just to Catholicism if he has not been cradled in that wondrous legend—if, in the music of its hymns, the ceilings of its temples, the symbols of its devotion, he does not revive the first sensation of his religious life? The most essential condition of a fair appreciation of ancient religion will for ever therefore be missing with us, for one must have lived in the bosom of those religions, or at least be able to reproduce the sentiment they convey, with a depth that the most privileged historical genius can scarcely attain. With all our efforts, we shall never so frankly renounce our modern ideas as to find the tissue of fables which is commonly offered as the belief of Greece and Rome, anything but an absurdity unworthy the attention of a serious man. For persons unfamiliar with historical science, it is an endless subject of astonishment to see men who are presented to them as masters of the human mind, adoring gods, drunken and adulterous, and admitting extravagant stories, and scandalous adventures among their religious dogmas. The simplest thinks he has a right to shrug his shoulders at such prodigious infatuation. We must, however, start from this principle, that the human mind is never absurd on purpose, and that whenever the spontaneous creations of the mind appear to us senseless, it is because we do not understand them.

Les religions tiennent si profondément aux fibres intimes de la conscience humaine, que l'interprétation scientifique en devient à distance presque impossible. Les efforts de la critique la plus subtile ne sauraient redresser la position fausse où nous nous trouvons vis-àvis de ces œuvres primitives. Pleines de vie, de sens, de vérité pour les peuples qui les ont animées de leur souffle, elles ne sont plus à nos yeux que des lettres mortes, des hiéroglyphes scellés; créées par l'effort simultané de toutes les facultés agissant dans la plus parfaite harmonie, elles ne sont plus pour nous qu'un objet de curieuse analyse. Pour faire l'histoire d'une religion, il faut ne plus y croire, mais il faut y avoir cru : on ne comprend bien que le culte qui a provoqué en nous le premier élan vers l'idéal. Qui peut être juste envers le catholicisme s'il n'a été bercé de cette légende admirable, si dans les accents de ses hymnes, dans les voûtes de ses temples, dans les symboles de son culte, il ne retrouve les premières sensations de sa vie religieuse? La condition la plus essentielle pour bien apprécier les religions de l'antiquité nous manquera donc à jamais; car il faudrait avoir vécu dans le sein de ces religions, ou du moins en faire renaître en soi le sentiment avec une profondeur dont le génie historique le plus privilégié serait à peine capable. Quelque effort que nous fassions, nous ne renoncerons jamais assez franchement à toutes nos idées modernes pour ne pas trouver absurde et indigne d'occuper un homme sérieux l'ensemble des fables que l'on présente d'ordinaire comme la croyance de la Grèce et de Rome. C'est pour les personnes peu versées dans les sciences historiques un éternel sujet d'étonnement de voir les peuples qu'on leur présente comme les maîtres de l'esprit humain adorer des dieux ivrognes et adultères, et admettre parmi leurs dogmes religieux des récits extravagants, de scandaleuses aventures. Le plus simple se croit en droit de hausser les épaules sur un aussi prodigieux aveuglement. Il faudrait cependant partir de ce principe, que l'esprit humain n'est jamais absurde à plaisir, et que toutes les fois que les œuvres spontanées de la conscience nous apparaissent comme dénuées de raison, c'est qu'on ne sait pas les comprendre.


A Pleasure in Provocation

Walter Savage Landor (1775-1864), "Southey and Landor," Imaginary Conversations (Landor speaking):
It may be boyish and mischievous; but I acknowledge I have sometimes felt a pleasure in irritating, by the cast of a pebble, those who stretch forward to the full extent of the chain their open and frothy mouths against me.



Basil, letter 48 (to Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata; tr. Roy J. Deferrari):
In our land people so shudder at the winter that they cannot bring themselves even to put their heads out of their chambers for a moment. Indeed, we have been overwhelmed with such a mass of snow, that for two months now we have been lurking in our burrows, buried with our very houses.

οἵ γε παρ᾿ ἡμῖν οὕτω κατέπτηξαν τὸν χειμῶνα, ὡς μηδὲ τὸ μικρότατον προκύπτειν τῶν δωματίων ἀνέχεσθαι. καὶ γὰρ τοσούτῳ πλήθει χιόνων κατενίφημεν, ὡς αὐτοῖς οἴκοις καταχωσθέντας δύο μῆνας ἤδη ταῖς καταδύσεσιν ἐμφωλεύειν.

Caspar David Friedrich, Verschneite Hütte,
(Berlin, Alte Nationalgalerie, ca. 1827)

Tuesday, February 09, 2016


Not Very Honest

Anthony Trollope (1815-1882), The Way of the World, chapter IV:
"I dare say he hasn't been very honest. When men make so much money, I don't know how they can have been honest."
Related posts:


Little Bits of Learning

Anthony Trollope (1815-1882), Castle Richmond, chapter V:
He liked little bits of learning, the easy outsides and tags of classical acquirements, which come so easily within the scope of the memory when a man has passed some ten years between a public school and a university. But though he did love to chew the cud of these morsels of Attic grass which he had cropped, certainly without any great or sustained effort, he had no desire to be ostentatious in doing so, or to show off more than he knew. Indeed, now that he was away from his college friends, he was rather ashamed of himself than otherwise when scraps of quotations would break forth from him in his own despite.



Walter Savage Landor (1775-1864), "Archdeacon Hare and Walter Landor," Imaginary Conversations (Hare speaking):
Next in criminality to him who violates the laws of his country, is he who violates the language.
Related post: Verbicide.


Bacchus Wept

Gods and goddesses aren't supposed to weep, although some do. See "Jesus Wept" and "Tears of a Goddess" for the rule and a list of exceptions.

To the exceptions can also be added Bacchus, in Nonnus, Dionysiaca 12.171 (tr. W.H.D. Rouse):
Lord Bacchos has wept tears, that he may wipe away man's tears!

Βάκχος ἄναξ δάκρυσε, βροτῶν ἵνα δάκρυα λύσῃ.
I haven't read all 48 books of Nonnus' Dionysiaca. I owe the reference to G.W. Bowersock, Hellenism in Late Antiquity (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1990), p. 44, who writes (footnote omitted):
[A]t least one line in the Dionysiaca, from book 12, could never have been written in a Greek pagan poem before the Christian era: "Bacchus our lord shed tears, so that he might bring an end to the tears of mortals." Pagan gods had certainly not traditionally taken upon themselves the tribulations of mortals.
With all due respect to such an eminent scholar, I don't see any Christian influence here. In context, Bacchus was mourning the death of his favorite Ampelos. After Ampelos died, he was transformed into a grape vine (his name means grape vine in Greek). From grapes comes wine, and wine takes away the tears of mortals. All perfectly pagan, as Wolfgang Liebeschuetz, "Pagan Mythology in the Christian Empire," International Journal of the Classical Tradition 2.2 (Fall, 1995) 193-208 (at 207), and Alan Cameron, Wandering Poets and Other Essays on Late Greek Literature and Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), p. 84, saw. Robert Shorrock, The Myth of Paganism: Nonnus, Dionysus and the World of Late Antiquity (2011; rpt. London: Bloomsbury, 2013), chapter 4 ("Dionysus and Christ: Nonnus' Dionysiaca"), ingeniously defends the theory of Christian influence on this verse, but I'm not convinced.

Monday, February 08, 2016


The Anxious Pedant

Julian Barnes, Something to Declare: Essays on France (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002), pp. 51-52:
Simple? Listen: nothing is simple to the Anxious Pedant. The restaurateur Prue Leith once watched a wretched cookery-school pupil (male, of course) deconstruct the following first line of a recipe: "Separate the eggs." For a thoughtful while he pondered the two eggs placed in front of him, before carefully moving one a few inches to his left and the other a few inches to his right. Satisfied, he went on to the second line of instruction. I feel for this bonehead.


Hard to See

Homeric Hymn to Demeter 111 (tr. M.L. West):
They did not recognize her, for gods are hard for mortals to see.

οὐδ᾿ ἔγνον· χαλεποὶ δὲ θεοὶ θνητοῖσιν ὁρᾶσθαι.

Sunday, February 07, 2016


Wrangling and Dissension

Ernest Renan (1823-1892), Saint Paul, tr. Ingersoll Lockwood (New York: G.W. Carleton, 1869), p. 184:
A man who disputes, resists, speaks of himself, — a man who maintains his opinion and his prerogative, who puts others ill at ease, who apostrophizes them to their face, — such a man is disagreeable to us.

Un homme qui dispute, résiste, parle de lui-même, un homme qui maintient son opinion et sa prérogative, qui fait de la peine aux autres, qui les apostrophe en face, un tel homme nous est antipathique.
Id., p. 203:
Paul is not Jesus. How far removed are we from thee, dear Master! Where is thy mildness, thy poetry? Thou, to whom a flower did bring pleasure and ecstasy, dost thou recognize as thy disciples these wranglers, these men, furious over their prerogatives, and desiring that everything should be held of them? They are men: thou wast a God. Where would we be, wert thou only known to us through the harsh letters of him calling himself thy apostle? Happily, the remembrances of Galilee still live in a few faithful memories.

Paul n'est pas Jésus. Que nous sommes loin de toi, cher maître! Où est ta douceur, ta poésie? Toi qu'une fleur enchantait, et mettait dans l'extase, reconnais-tu bien pour tes disciples ces disputeurs, ces hommes acharnés sur leur prérogative, qui veulent que tout relève d'eux seuls? Ils sont des hommes, tu fus un dieu. Où serions-nous, si tu ne nous étais connu que par les rudes lettres de celui qui s'appelle ton apôtre? Heureusement, les parfums de Galilée vivent encore dans quelques mémoires fidèles.
Id., p. 223:
Among these trivial, brilliant, superficial inhabitants of the borders of the Mediterranean, factions, parties, and divisions constitute a social necessity; without them, life appears tiresome. To procure themselves satisfaction of hating and loving, of being excited, jealous, and triumphant in turn, they often oppose each other in the most trivial things. The object of dissension is insignificant. It is the dissension which they wish, and which they seek for itself alone.

Chez ces populations légères, brillantes, superficielles des bords de la Méditerranée, les factions, les partis, les divisions sont un besoin social. La vie sans cela paraît ennuyeuse. Pour se procurer la satisfaction de haïr et d'aimer, d'être excité, jaloux, triomphant à son heure, on se bute souvent sur les choses les plus puériles. L'objet de la division est insignifiant; c'est la division qu'on veut et qu'on cherche pour elle-même.
Related post: Barking Animals.


Picking and Choosing

Walter Savage Landor (1775-1864), "Andrew Marvel and Bishop Parker," Imaginary Conversations:
Parker. We must lay gentle constructions and liberal interpretations on the Scriptures.

Marvel. Then let us never open them. If they are true, we should receive them as they are; if they are false, we should reject them totally. We cannot pick and choose: we cannot say to the Omniscient, "We think you right here; we think you wrong there; however, we will meet you halfway, and talk it over with you."


Rules for Refugees

Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus 184-187 (chorus to Oedipus; tr. Hugh Lloyd-Jones):
You are a stranger, poor man, in a strange land; bring yourself to loathe what the city is accustomed to dislike and to respect what it holds dear!

τόλμα ξεῖνος ἐπὶ ξένας,
ὦ τλάμων, ὅ τι καὶ πόλις
τέτροφεν ἄφιλον ἀποστυγεῖν
καὶ τὸ φίλον σέβεσθαι.
Id. 171-172 (Antigone to Oedipus):
Father, we should share the concerns of the citizens, giving way and obeying when we must.

ὦ πάτερ, ἀστοῖς ἴσα χρὴ μελετᾶν,
εἴκοντας ἃ δεῖ κἀκούοντας.
Id. 12-13 (Oedipus to Antigone):
For we have come as strangers, and must learn from the citizens and do as they tell us.

                                μανθάνειν γὰρ ἥκομεν
ξένοι πρὸς ἀστῶν, ἃν δ᾿ ἀκούσωμεν τελεῖν.

Saturday, February 06, 2016


Not All Perfect Athletes

H.W. Parke (1903-1986), Festivals of the Athenians (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977), p. 46, with note on p. 193 (bracketed phrase in original):
In Aristophanes we have a sarcastic caricature of what could happen in the torch-race. In the Frogs Aeschylus is represented in the Other World as accusing Euripides of being responsible for producing a generation of Athenians of whom 'no one is able to carry a torch any longer through lack of athletic training.' Dionysus supports this charge with a reminiscence: 'No indeed, by Jove, and at the Panathenaia I split myself laughing when a slow fellow was running, doubled up, white and flabby, left behind and in a terrible state. Then the men from Kerameikos [the workmen's quarter through which the course went] in the gates were butting him on the belly and ribs and flanks and buttocks. When he was beaten on the road he gave a fart, blew out his torch and fled.' The episode is perhaps not all mischievous fantasy and is certainly a corrective to any romantic and sentimental notion of classical Greeks who were all perfect athletes.30

30 Ar. Ra. 1089 ff.
Cf. id., p. 12:
Not only was feasting an appropriate act of worship, but even athletics and play-acting were proper institutions for holy days. The pious psalmist, sure in his knowledge of the nature of Jehovah, might assert: 'He hath no pleasure in the strength of an horse; neither delighteth he in any man's legs.' But the Athenian when he took part in chariot-racing or running at the Panathenaic games believed that Athena was honoured by these exertions.

Torch race on bell krater, Arthur M. Sackler Museum
(Harvard University), object no. 1960.344

Related post: Torch Relays and Races.



Barbara W. Tuchman (1912-1989), The March of Folly (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1984), p. 125:
Disregard of the movements and sentiments developing around them was a primary folly. They were deaf to disaffection, blind to the alternative ideas it gave rise to, blandly impervious to challenge, unconcerned by the dismay at their misconduct and the rising wrath at their misgovernment, fixed in refusal to change, almost stupidly stubborn in maintaining a corrupt existing system.
Not politicians in present-day Washington, D.C., but Renaissance Popes from Sixtus IV to Clement VII.


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