Thursday, October 19, 2017


Nocturnal Misadventure

Martin L. West (1937-2015), Greek Elegy and Iambus (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1974), p. 172 (on [Homer,] Margites, fragment 7 = P.Oxy. 2309):
The verses describe a comic nocturnal misadventure — no doubt of Margites — conceived in a spirit of Hipponactean farce. (Line 3 indeed parallels Hippon. 92.6.) I take the narrative to run as follows. Needing to empty his bladder (1?), he pushes the appropriate organ into a vessel, and finds he is stuck, hand and all (1-5). In this predicament he promptly passes water (6). Now he has another idea. He leaves his bed and rushes out into the night, looking for means to free his hand (7-11). It is pitch dark; he has no torch (12-13). Encountering the unlucky head of some other person, he takes it for a stone, and with one hefty blow he smashes the pot over it (14-17), thus administering at once a painful crack on the pate and a sour douche.

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