Friday, December 03, 2021


A Little Respite

Homer, Iliad 11.801 = 16.43 = 18.201 (tr. Richmond Lattimore):
There is little breathing space in the fighting.

ὀλίγη δέ τ᾽ ἀνάπνευσις πολέμοιο.
The same (tr. Peter Green):
Too brief is the breathing space from battle.
But cf. Claude Brügger on 16.43:
according to MAZON [transl.] ‘to catch one’s breath requires only a short time in war’ (similarly LA ROCHE on 11.801 [transl.]: ‘respite in war is brief, i.e. it need not be long’; FAESI and AH on 11.801 [transl.]: ‘even a short rest is at least a rest’). The expression has a proverbial character (DE JONG, loc. cit.). Gnomic statements frequently serve to underline items of advice (STENGER 2004, 6–9). Typical in such cases is: (a) laconic phrasing via a nominal clause, cf. 630 (LARDINOIS 2001, 99 with n. 32; abstract verbal nouns are particularly suitable: JONES 1973, 14 f.), (b) picking up the verb via a noun with a related stem: ἀναπνεύσωσι – ἀνάπνευσις (LARDINOIS 1997, 218; in general, PORZIG 1942, 31 ff.), and (c) the position of the gnome at (or near) the end of the speech (1.218n.; AHRENS 1937, 23, 52; LOHMANN 1970, 24, 66 f., 72; STENGER loc. cit. 9).

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