Wednesday, July 23, 2014


An Offering and a Prayer

Greek Anthology 6.31 (by Nicarchus?, tr. W.R. Paton):
I have offered this as a common gift to Pan the goat-treader, to Dionysus the giver of good fruit, and to Demeter the Earth-goddess, and I beg from them fine flocks, good wine and to gather good grain from the ears.

Αἰγιβάτῃ τόδε Πανὶ, καὶ εὐκάρπῳ Διονύσῳ,
    καὶ Δηοῖ Χθονίῃ ξυνὸν ἔθηκα γέρας.
αἰτέομαι δ᾽ αὐτοὺς καλὰ πώεα καὶ καλὸν οἶνον,
    καὶ καλὸν ἀμῆσαι καρπὸν ἀπ᾽ ἀσταχύων.
Goat-treader? See Liddell-Scott-Jones, s.v. αἰγιβάτης:
goat-mounting, epith. of he-goats, etc., Pi. Fr. 201; of Pan, Theoc. Ep. 5.6, AP 6.31.
Likewise Paton translates χιμαιροβάτᾳ as "goat-treader" at Greek Anthology 6.35.1 (also an epithet of Pan), although he does render αἰγοβάταις as "goat-mounting" at Greek Anthology 12.41.4. J.M. Edmonds similarly mis-translates αἰγιβάταν as "goat-foot" at Theocritus, Epigrams 5.6.

I'm reminded of the famous statue of Pan in the ‘"Secret Room" of the National Archaeological Museum in Naples:

The suffix -βάτης is related to βαίνω. See Jeffrey Henderson, The Maculate Muse: Obscene Language in Greek Comedy, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), p. 256, index s.v. βαίνειν. Another compound of -βάτης with an obscene meaning is ὀπισθοβάτης (mounting from behind).

On the other hand, cf. Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. tread, v., senses 8.a: "Of the male bird: To copulate with (the hen)" and 8.b: "absol. Of birds: To copulate."

Related post: Bowdlerization.

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