Sunday, February 27, 2005
Whence and Whither?
They demanded our names, whence we came, whither we were going, and what was our business. The last query was particularly embarrassing; since traveling in that country, or indeed anywhere, from any other motive than gain, was an idea of which they took no cognizance. (Chapter VIII)From time immemorial strangers and wanderers have faced these same questions. In Homer's Odyssey, the following line occurs several times, first at 1.170 (tr. Richmond Lattimore):
"How are you, strangers? whar are you going and whar are you from?" said a fellow, who came trotting up with an old straw hat on his head. (Chapter XXVI)
What man are you, and whence? Where is your city? Your parents?In Rome even friends asked some of these same questions when meeting:
- Horace, Satires 1.9.62-63: 'Whence are you coming and whither are you heading?' he asks and answers. ('Unde venis et / quo tendis?' rogat et respondet.)
- Horace, Satires 2.4.1: 'Whence and whither Catius?' ('Unde et quo Catius?')
Phil Flemming (via email) writes:
Socrates begins his conversation with Phaedrus by asking poi de kai pothen? It's a kind of scold, isn't it? Pretending to greet Phaedrus as someone who been away on a great voyage, he's really asking, where have you been hiding yourself, Phaedrus? And why have you become a stranger?R. Hackforth translates this passage (Plato, Phaedrus 227a) as follows:
Where are you coming from, Phaedrus my friend, and where are you going?