Thursday, April 14, 2022


Lower and Upper Voices

Assyrian proverb, in Benjamin R. Foster, Before the Muses: An Anthology of Akkadian Literature, 3rd ed. (Bethesda: CDL Press, 2005), p. 428:
While the backside was breaking wind,
the mouth brought forth babble (?).
This reminds me of some poems in the Greek Anthology (tr. W.R. Paton).

11.241 (by Nicarchus):
Your mouth and your breech, Theodorus, smell the same, so that it would be a famous task for men of science to distinguish them. You ought really to write on a label which is your mouth and which your breech, but now when you speak I think you break wind.

τὸ στόμα χὠ πρωκτὸς, Θεόδωρε, σοῦ ὄζει,
  ὥστε διαγνῶναι τοῖς φυσικοῖς καλὸν ἦν.
ἦ γράψαι σε ἔδει ποῖον στόμα, ποῖον ὁ πρωκτός,
  νῦν δὲ λαλοῦντος σου βδεῖν σ᾽ ἐνόμιζον ἐγώ.
11.242 (by Nicarchus):
I can't tell whether Diodorus is yawning or has broken wind, for he has one breath above and below.

οὐ δύναμαι γνῶναι, πότερον χαίνει Διόδωρος,
  ἢ βδῆσ᾽· ἓν γὰρ ἔχει πνεῦμα κάτω καὶ ἄνω.
11.415 (by Antipater or Nicarchus):
Who, Mentorides, so obviously transferred your breech to the place where your mouth formerly was? For you break wind and do not breathe, and you speak from the lower storey. I wonder how your lower parts became your upper!

τίς σοῦ, Μεντορίδη, προφανῶς οὕτως μετέθηκεν
  τὴν πυγήν, οὗπερ τὸ στόμ᾽ ἔκειτο πρὸ τοῦ;
βδεῖς γάρ, κούκ ἀναπνεῖς, φθέγγῃ δ᾽ ἐκ τῶν καταγείων.
  θαῦμά μ᾽ ἔχει τὰ κάτω πῶς σου ἄνω γέγονεν.


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