Monday, May 02, 2011


Bless You

W. Kendrick Pritchett (1909-2007), The Greek State at War. Part III: Religion (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979), chapter IV (Miscellaneous Portents), pp. 91-153 (at p. 127, n. 117):
It was customary to salute a sneezer with such words as Ζεῦ σῶσον: Pease, CP 6 (1911) 436. This custom has come down to modern times. Boccaccio in Il Sabbatino says that if you marry, you will at all events have somebody to say "Dio te aiuti!" when you sneeze.
One of the strangest reasons for getting married that I've ever heard.

Pease is a reference to Arthur Stanley Pease, "The Omen of Sneezing," Classical Philology 6 (1911) 429-443. The Greek means "Zeus, save!" and the Italian means "God help you!" As Pease notes, the Greek phrase occurs in the Greek Anthology 11.268 (on a man with a big nose, tr. W.R. Paton):
Proclus cannot wipe his nose with his hand, for his arm is shorter than his nose; nor does he say "God preserve us" when he sneezes, for he can't hear his nose, it is so far away from his ears.
The Romans apparently said "Salve" when someone sneezed (references in Pease).

I noted the following misprints in the chapter just cited from Pritchett's book:


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