Sunday, February 05, 2017


What's the Point of Living?

Aristophanes, Clouds 1071-1074 (Worse Argument speaking; tr. Jeffrey Henderson):
My boy, do consider everything that decency entails, and all the pleasures you stand to lose: boys, women, dice, fine food and drink, laughs. If you're deprived of all this, what's the point of living?

σκέψαι γάρ, ὦ μειράκιον, ἐν τῷ σωφρονεῖν ἅπαντα
ἅνεστιν, ἡδονῶν θ᾿ ὅσων μέλλεις ἀποστερεῖσθαι·
παίδων, γυναικῶν, κοττάβων, ὄψων, πότων, καχασμῶν.
καίτοι τί σοι ζῆν ἄξιον, τούτων ἐὰν στερηθῇς;
When I read these lines, I wondered if ἀποστερεῖσθαι ... στερηθῇς could be an example of compound-simplex iteration, i.e. "the iteration of a compound verb in a succeeding clause or sentence by the simple verb alone, but with the semantic force of the compound" (Calvert Watkins, Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 71 [1966] 115). Upon checking I found that this passage is included in Robert Renehan's discussion of the phenomenon, Studies in Greek Texts: Critical Observations to Homer, Plato, Euripides, Aristophanes and other Authors (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1976), p. 15.

The ancient Greeks of course had dice (κύβοι), but Aristophanes here doesn't mention dice but rather the drinking game known as kottabos (κότταβος).

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