Sunday, November 25, 2012


Diogenes Laertius Expurgatus

From David Whitehead via email:
I haven't myself seen this piece on the LCL, but I do hope it includes R.D. Hicks on Diogenes Laertius' Life of Diogenes the Cynic (6.20-81). As we know, D was much given to public masturbation. Some allusions to this in Hicks are easy to spot (6.46 and 69), but 6.56 requires more effort, given the camouflage of Hicks's 'he made a more scurrilous repartee'.

Such an application of νευρόω in the Lysistrata is picked up in LSJ and by Henderson (both in his commentary and in The Maculate Muse), but the instance in D.L. appears to be missed.
I don't see any references to R.D. Hicks' translation of Diogenes Laertius in Philip Lawton, "For the gentleman and the scholar: sexual and scatological references in the Loeb Classical Library," in Stephen Harrison and Christopher Stray, edd., Expurgating the Classics: Editing Out in Greek and Latin (London: Bristol Classical Press, 2012), pp. 175-196.

Here are the passages cited by Professor Whitehead from Diogenes Laertius, with R.D. Hicks' translation in the Loeb Classical Library series and my comments.

When behaving indecently in the marketplace, he wished it were as easy to relieve hunger by rubbing an empty stomach.

ἐπ᾽ ἀγορᾶς ποτε χειρουργῶν, "εἴθε," ἔφη, "καὶ τὴν κοιλίαν ἦν παρατρίψαντα μὴ πεινῆν."
Hicks' "behaving indecently" in Greek is χειρουργῶν, present participle of χειρουργέω = "work with the hand," i.e. masturbate (Liddell-Scott-Jones, meaning 5 = "sens. obsc.").

Being reproached one day for having falsified the currency, he said, "That was the time when I was such as you are now; but such as I am now, you will never be." To another who reproached him for the same offence he made a more scurrilous repartee.

ὀνειδιζόμενός ποτε ἐπὶ τῷ παραχαράξαι τὸ νόμισμα ἔφη, "ἦν ποτε χρόνος ἐκεῖνος ὅτ᾽ ἤμην ἐγὼ τοιοῦτος ὁποῖος σὺ νῦν· ὁποῖος δ᾽ ἐγὼ νῦν, σὺ οὐδέποτε." καὶ πρὸς ἄλλον ἐπὶ τῷ αὐτῷ ὀνειδίσαντα, "καὶ γὰρ ἐνεούρουν θᾶττον, ἀλλὰ νῦν οὔ."
Where Hicks translates "he made a more scurrilous repartee," the Greek more closely translated means, "[he said,] 'I also used to masturbate faster, but not now.'" Here the Greek word for masturbate is νευρόω = "strain the sinews, nerve" (Liddell-Scott-Jones, who cite only Aristophanes, Lysistrata 1078 for "sens. obsc.").

Behaving indecently in public, he wished "it were as easy to banish hunger by rubbing the belly."

χειρουργῶν τ᾽ ἐν τῷ μέσῳ συνεχές, "εἴθε ἦν," ἔλεγε, "καὶ τὴν κοιλίαν παρατριψάμενον τοῦ λιμοῦ παύσασθαι."
As at 6.46, Hicks' "behaving indecently" in Greek is χειρουργῶν, present participle of χειρουργέω = "work with the hand," i.e. masturbate (Liddell-Scott-Jones, meaning 5 = "sens. obsc.").

I'm able to add one more passage where R.D. Hicks' translation obscures the literal meaning, at Diogenes Laertius 6.94:
Metrocles of Maroneia was the brother of Hipparchia. He had been formerly a pupil of Theophrastus the Peripatetic, and had been so far corrupted by weakness that, when he made a breach of good manners in the course of rehearsing a speech, it drove him to despair, and he shut himself up at home, intending to starve himself to death. On learning this Crates came to visit him as he had been asked to do, and after advisedly making a meal of lupins, he tried to persuade him by argument as well that he had committed no crime, for a prodigy would have happened if he had not taken the natural means of relieving himself. At last by reproducing the action he succeeded in lifting him from his dejection, using for his consolation the likeness of the occurrences. From that time forward Metrocles was his pupil, and became proficient in philosophy.

Μητροκλῆς ὁ Μαρωνείτης, ἀδελφὸς Ἱππαρχίας, ὃς πρότερον ἀκούων Θεοφράστου τοῦ περιπατητικοῦ τοσοῦτον διέφθαρτο, ὥστε ποτὲ μελετῶν καὶ μεταξύ πως ἀποπαρδὼν ὑπ᾽ ἀθυμίας οἴκοι κατάκλειστος ἦν, ἀποκαρτερεῖν βουλόμενος. μαθὼν δὴ ὁ Κράτης εἰσῆλθε πρὸς αὐτὸν παρακληθεὶς καὶ θέρμους ἐπίτηδες βεβρωκὼς ἔπειθε μὲν αὐτὸν καὶ διὰ τῶν λόγων μηδὲν φαῦλον πεποιηκέναι· τέρας γὰρ ἂν γεγονέναι εἰ μὴ καὶ τὰ πνεύματα κατὰ φύσιν ἀπεκρίνετο· τέλος δὲ καὶ ἀποπαρδὼν αὐτὸν ἀνέρρωσεν, ἀφ᾽ ὁμοιότητος τῶν ἔργων παραμυθησάμενος. τοὐντεῦθεν ἤκουεν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐγένετο ἀνὴρ ἱκανὸς ἐν φιλοσοφίᾳ.
Hicks' euphemistic phrases "when he made a breach of good manners" and "by reproducing the action" are both the same word in the original Greek, ἀποπαρδών, aorist participle of ἀποπέρδομαι = fart.

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