Tuesday, February 19, 2019



Homer, Odyssey 15.343 (tr. A.T. Murray, rev. George E. Dimock):
Nothing is more evil than homelessness for mortals.

πλαγκτοσύνης δ᾽ οὐκ ἔστι κακώτερον ἄλλο βροτοῖσιν.
The same, tr. Samuel Butler:
There is nothing worse than being always on the tramp.
The same, tr. E.V. Rieu:
Surely a tramp's life is the worst thing that anyone can come to.
Arie Hoekstra ad loc.:
As Cauer, Homerkritik, 438, has shown, the total number of abstract terms is greater in the Odyssey than in the Iliad and this also applies to the nouns in -οσύνη and -φροσύνη (439). In this case the noun is likely to have been derived from the verbal adj. (πλαγκτέ occurs at Od. xxi 363, although there it means 'distracted') and to mean 'the (social) position of a man driven from home', cf. δουλόσύνη (xxii 423).
W.B. Stanford ad loc:
Note O.'s attitude to his travels: he was no romantic adventurer indulging his Wanderlust, but a weary ex-soldier always yearning to reach home—yet, it must be added, with enough vitality and curiosity to take an interest in his enforced travels. But now, looking back on them, in this line he gives his melancholy considered judgement. With πλαγκτοσύνη cp. πλάγχθη in 1, 2: it implies unwilling deflection from one's chosen course.
I wondered about πλανάομαι and English planet, but Robert Beekes, Etymological Dictionary of Greek (Leiden: Brill, 2010), p. 1202 (s.v. πλανάομαι), says:
The meaning strongly recalls πλάζω, but it is hard to think of a formal connection.

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