Tuesday, January 02, 2018


A Curse

Homer, Iliad 7.99-100 (tr. A.T. Murray, rev. William F. Wyatt):
But may you one and all turn to earth and water,
you who sit there each man with no heart in him, utterly inglorious.

ἀλλ᾽ ὑμεῖς μὲν πάντες ὕδωρ καὶ γαῖα γένοισθε
ἥμενοι αὖθι ἕκαστοι ἀκήριοι ἀκλεὲς αὔτως.
G.S. Kirk ad loc.:
'May you all become water and earth' is a unique expression. These are the components from which human beings are made according to one popular view (so Hesiod, Erga 61, Xenophanes frag. 33, cf. Hesiod, Theog. 571 with M. L. West's comment), and the Achaeans' inertia makes it an appropriate form of curse. ἀκήριοι, from κήρ = 'heart', means 'lifeless' or 'spiritless' (6x Il.; in its two Odyssean uses it has a different sense akin to that ἀκήρατος). ἀκλεές is neuter acc. used adverbially; nom. plur. ἀκλέες, so accented, had some support (cf. Eustathius 669.1) but is probably an incorrect form (Chantraine, GH 1, 74). αὔτως intensifies: 'in an utterly inglorious way'.

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