Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Maurus the Rhetor, or a Moorish Rhetor?
I was thunderstruck when I saw the rhetor Maurus, with a snout like an elephant, emitting a voice that murders one from lips weighing a pound each.Greek Anthology 16.20 (by Ammianus; tr. W.R. Paton):
Ῥήτορα Μαῦρον ἰδὼν ἐτεθήπεα, ῥυγχελέφαντα,
χείλεσι λιτραίοις φθόγγον ἱέντα φόνον.
I marvelled when I saw the rhetor Maurus, the heavy-lipped and white-robed demon of the art of Rhetoric.A.H.M. Jones et al., Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire, Vol. I: A.D. 260-395 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971), p. 570:
Ῥήτορα Μαῦρον ἰδὼν ἀπεθαύμασα, τὸν βαρύχειλον,
τέχνης ῥητορικῆς δαίμονα λευκοφόρον.
Maurus (?) 3 rhetor L IV"H. Beckby ad loc." is Hermann Beckby, ed. and tr., Anthologia Graeca, Buch XII-XVI, 2nd rev. ed. (Munich: Ernst Heimeran Verlag, ), p. 314.
Rhetor lampooned by Palladas; Egyptian, according to a lemma of dubious value, but to judge from the poems, a negro; cf. ῥυγχελέφαντα, χείλεσι λιτραίοις, in Anth. Gr. XI 204. 1-2, and βαρύχειλον, ib. XVI 20. 1 (ascribed to Palladas by H. Beckby ad loc.). Editors take Μαῦρος in both poems as a proper name, but it is probably an ethnic (a Moor).
According to Liddell-Scott-Jones, ῥυγχελέφας, meaning "with an elephant's trunk," is a hapax legomenon.
Dudley Fitts, More Poems from the Palatine Anthology in English Paraphrase (New York: New Directions, 1941), page number unknown, poem number 41:
Lo, I beheld Maurus,Palladas, Poems, a selection translated and introduced by Tony Harrison (London: Anvil Press Poetry, 1975), unpaginated, poem number 42, with the heading Maurus:
Professor of Public Speaking,
Raise high his elephant-snout
And from between his lips
(12 oz. apiece) give vent
To a voice whose very sound is accomplished murder.
I was impressed.
The politician's elephantine conk's
amazing, amazing too the voice that honks
through blubber lips (1 lb. net each)
spouting his loud, ear-shattering speech.