Monday, July 23, 2018


Not Just a Plain Old Plain

Euripides, Helen, Phoenician Women, Orestes. Edited and Translated by David Kovacs (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002 = Loeb Classical Library, 11), pp. 16-17 (Helen 56-58):
τί οὖν ἔτι ζῶ; θεοῦ τόδ᾿ εἰσήκουσ᾿ ἔπος
Ἑρμοῦ, τὸ κλεινὸν ἔτι κατοικήσειν πέδον
Σπάρτης σὺν ἀνδρί ...

Why then do I still live? I have heard a prophecy from the god Hermes that I shall one day live in Sparta's plain with my husband ...
In the Greek, πέδον has its epitheton ornans — κλεινὸν. It is famous, renowned. Cf. Euripides, Andromache 1085 (τὸ κλεινὸν ἤλθομεν Φοίβου πέδον) and Aristophanes, Wealth 772 (σεμνῆς Παλλάδος κλεινὸν πέδον). Richmond Lattimore translates:
Why do I go on living, then? Yet I have heard
from the god Hermes that I yet shall remake my home
in the famous plain of Sparta with my lord ...

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