Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Miscellaneous Notes

Homer, Odyssey 8.62-64 (tr. A.T. Murray, rev. George E. Dimock):
Then the herald approached leading the good minstrel, whom the Muse loved above all other men, and she gave him both good and evil; of his sight she deprived him, but gave him the gift of sweet song.

κῆρυξ δ᾽ ἐγγύθεν ἦλθεν ἄγων ἐρίηρον ἀοιδόν,
τὸν πέρι μοῦσ᾽ ἐφίλησε, δίδου δ᾽ ἀγαθόν τε κακόν τε·
ὀφθαλμῶν μὲν ἄμερσε, δίδου δ᾽ ἡδεῖαν ἀοιδήν.
A good example of chiasmus in lines 63-64, although it's obscured in some translations, e.g. by Samuel Butler:
A servant presently led in the famous bard Demodocus, whom the muse had dearly loved, but to whom she had given both good and evil, for though she had endowed him with a divine gift of song, she had robbed him of his eyesight.
Cf. also the urns of Zeus (Homer, Iliad 24.527-533, tr. Samuel Butler):
On the floor of Jove's palace there stand two urns, the one filled with evil gifts, and the other with good ones. He for whom Jove the lord of thunder mixes the gifts he sends, will meet now with good and now with evil fortune; but he to whom Jove sends none but evil gifts will be pointed at by the finger of scorn, the hand of famine will pursue him to the ends of the world, and he will go up and down the face of the earth, respected neither by gods nor men.

δοιοὶ γάρ τε πίθοι κατακείαται ἐν Διὸς οὔδει
δώρων οἷα δίδωσι κακῶν, ἕτερος δὲ ἑάων·
ᾧ μέν κ᾽ ἀμμίξας δώῃ Ζεὺς τερπικέραυνος,
ἄλλοτε μέν τε κακῷ ὅ γε κύρεται, ἄλλοτε δ᾽ ἐσθλῷ·
ᾧ δέ κε τῶν λυγρῶν δώῃ, λωβητὸν ἔθηκε,
καί ἑ κακὴ βούβρωστις ἐπὶ χθόνα δῖαν ἐλαύνει,
φοιτᾷ δ᾽ οὔτε θεοῖσι τετιμένος οὔτε βροτοῖσιν.
Men receive from the gods either a mixture of good and evil, or unmixed evil. They never receive pure good without some evil mixed in.

An example of apopompē in Persius 5.167-8 (tr. Susanna Morton Braund):
"Well done, lad. Be wise, slaughter a lamb for the gods who drive evil away."

"euge, puer, sapias, dis depellentibus agnam
An example of epipompē in Juvenal 6.517-521:
In a booming voice he tells the woman to beware the arrival of September and the southerly winds, unless she purifies herself with a hundred eggs and presents him with her old russet-coloured dresses, to ensure that any serious or unforeseen disaster that's impending disappears into the clothes and atones for the whole year at one go.

grande sonat metuique iubet Septembris et austri
adventum, nisi se centum lustraverit ovis
et xerampelinas veteres donaverit ipsi,
ut quidquid subiti et magni discriminis instat
in tunicas eat et totum semel expiet annum.
Of course, the effeminate priest really just wants the woman's clothes.

In Persius, the evil is simply driven away (apopompē, as in most New Testament exorcisms), in Juvenal it is driven into a specific location (epipompē, as in the exorcism involving the Gadarene swine).

Anatoly Liberman, No Subject is Too Petty for an Etymologist, Or, Pets from North to South:
The main work on the OED had been completed by World War I. The last edition of Skeat's etymological dictionary appeared in 1910. Since that time only Ernest Weekley has brought out a partly original dictionary of English etymology (1921). All the others only repackaged the information in the OED, with an occasional nod to Skeat. Some progress can be seen in the treatment of later words: inasmuch as the OED and Skeat did not include them, their origin had to be investigated. But thousands of articles and books, some of them excellent, testify to the unending attempts to answer questions about the history of the early English vocabulary. Such attempts did not stop in the first quarter of the 20th century. But lexicographers are usually unaware of them. As a result, our etymological dictionaries froze at the stage reached by roughly 1910. Two streams—of special publications and of dictionaries—do not meet. Needless to say, popular books provide the same, by now trivial, information. The gruel (gruel, it will be remembered, is the food on which Oliver Twist was brought up) is getting thinner and thinner.

e.e. cummings:
Spring omnipotent goddess Thou
dost stuff parks
with overgrown pimply
chevaliers and gumchewing giggly

damosels Thou dost
persuade to serenade
his lady the musical tom-cat
Thou dost inveigle

into crossing sidewalks the
unwary june-bug and the frivolous
Thou dost hang canary birds in parlour windows

Spring slattern of seasons
you have soggy legs
and a muddy petticoat

is your hair your
eyes are sticky with
dream and you have a sloppy body from

being brought to bed of crocuses
when you sing in your whisky voice
the grass rises on the head of the earth
and all the trees are put on edge

of the excellent jostle of
thy hips
and the superior

slobber of your breasts i
am so very fond that my
soul inside of me hollers

                           for thou comest

and your hands are the snow and thy
fingers are the rain
and your
feet O your feet

feet feet incorrigible
ragging the world
On the repeated pronoun "thou" in a hymn or invocation, see Eduard Norden, "Die Messallaode des Horatius und der Du-Stil der Prädikation," in Agnostos Theos: Untersuchungen zur Formengeschichte religiöser Rede (Leipzig: Teubner: 1913), pp. 149 ff.

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