On (the many) Signs of Rain

It is rainy today. I wore the wrong shoes and jacket and brought no umbrella. How could I have predicted this?

Theophrastus, Concerning Weather Signs 13

“Many shooting stars [are indications of] rain or wind and the wind or rain will originate from their directions. If the rays of the sun are think together at sunrise or sunset, it might be a sign of rain. It is also a sign when during sunrise the raise have the color of an eclipse. And also when there are clouds that are similar to the hair of wool—that’s a sign of rain. Many bubbles rising on the surface of rivers are signs of rain. And, generally speaking, when a rainbow appears around or through the light of the lamp, it means rain from south.”

Ἀστέρες πολλοὶ διᾴττοντες ὕδατος ἢ πνεύματος, καὶ ὅθεν ἂν διᾴττωσιν ἐντεῦθεν τὸ πνεῦμα ἢ τὸ ὕδωρ. καὶ ἐὰν ἀκτῖνες ἀθρόαι ἀνίσχωσιν ἀνιόντος ἢ δύνοντος, σημεῖον <ὕδατος>. καὶ ὅταν ἀνίσχοντος τοῦ ἡλίου αἱ αὐγαὶ οἷον ἐκλείποντος χρῶμα ἴσχωσιν, ὕδατος σημεῖον. καὶ ὅταν νεφέλαι πόκοις ἐρίων ὅμοιαι ὦσιν, ὕδωρ σημαίνει. [ὑετοῦ δὲ σημεῖα] πομφόλυγες ἀνιστάμεναι πλείους ἐπὶ τῶν ποταμῶν ὕδωρ σημαίνουσι πολύ. ὡς δ᾿ ἐπὶ τὸ πολὺ ἶρις περὶ λύχνον ἢ διὰ λύχνου διαφαινομένη νότια σημαίνει ὕδατα.

Some excerpts from following paragraphs

15

“When birds who do not live in the water bathe, it is a sign of rain or storm. It is also a sign when frogs sing louder or when a toad takes a bath.”

Ὄρνιθες λουόμενοι μὴ ἐν ὕδατι βιοῦντες ὕδωρ ἢ χειμῶνας σημαίνουσι. καὶ φρύνη λουομένη καὶ βάτραχοι μᾶλλον ᾄδοντες σημαίνουσιν ὕδωρ.

16

“When a crow places its head on a rock which is washed by waves it is a sign of rain. Also: when it frequently dives down and flies around near the water, it is a sign of rain.”

Κορώνη ἐπὶ πέτρας κορυσσομένη ἣν κῦμα κατακλύζει ὕδωρ σημαίνει· καὶ κολυμβῶσα πολλάκις καὶ περιπετομένη ὕδωρ σημαίνει.

17

“If a hawk sits on a tree and then flies straight in a search for bugs, it is a sign of  rain.”

Ἐὰν ἱέραξ ἐπὶ δένδρου καθεζόμενος καὶ εἴσω εἰσπετόμενος φθειρίζηται, ὕδωρ σημαίνει.

18

“If a domesticated duck gods under the eaves of a roof and flaps its wings, it is a sign of rain.”

Καὶ ἡ νῆττα ἥμερος <ἐὰν> ὑπιοῦσα ὑπὸ τὰ γεῖσα ἀποπτερυγίζηται

Image result for ancient greek weather vase

 

Also, Theophrastus is like….

 

But then later he says….

Some Roman Poets Sing the Spring

Horace, Ars Poetica 299-304

…”O, what a savage I am,
Who cleanse myself of bile for the coming of the season of spring!
No one else would make better poems. It is truly
Worth nothing. Therefore, I act in place of a whetstone,
Which can return to steel its edge, but is powerless to cut itself.”

…o ego laevus,
qui purgor bilem sub verni temporis horam!
non alius faceret meliora poemata: verum
nil tanti est. ergo fungar vice cotis, acutum
reddere quae ferrum valet, exsors ipsa secandi;

Vergil, Georgics 2.149-154

“Here, spring is endless and summer overtakes other months:
The flocks give birth twice a year; twice a year the trees have fruit.

hic ver adsiduum atque alienis mensibus aestas:
bis gravidae pecudes, bis pomis utilis arbos.

Ovid, Fasti 4.125-132

“And no time of the year was better fit for Venus than spring
In spring the lands shine, the fields are tender in spring,
The grains raises its heads through the broken earth
And the shoot drives its buds in swollen bark.

Gorgeous Venus is worthy of a gorgeous time,
As always, and goes hand in hand with Mars.
In spring she tells the curved ships to go
Over maternal seas because she no longer fears the winter.”

nec Veneri tempus quam ver erat aptius ullum:
vere nitent terrae, vere remissus ager,
nunc herbae rupta tellure cacumina tollunt,
nunc tumido gemmas cortice palmes agit.
et formosa Venus formoso tempore digna est,
utque solet, Marti continuata suo est:
vere monet curvas materna per aequora puppes
ire nec hibernas iam timuisse minas.

Propertius, 4.5.59-60

“While spring is in your blood, while your age is free of wrinkle,
Use it—just in case tomorrow takes the youth from your face.”

dum vernat sanguis, dum rugis integer annus,
60utere, ne quid cras libet ab ore dies

Image result for ancient roman seasons spring

Villa Dar Buc Ammera, Libya, Roman era mosaic of the four seasons

Mekonion: Prepared Poppy Seeds. Or Newborn Poop

Pliny, Natural History 22 

“A poppy is boiled and consumed for insomnia. The same water is used for the face. Poppies grow best in dry conditions where it does not often rain. When the heads themselves are boiled with the leaves, the juice is called meconium and is a lot less potent than opium.”

decoquitur et bibitur contra vigilias, eademque aqua fovent ora. optimum in siccis et ubi raro pluat. cum capita ipsa et folia decocuntur, sucus meconium vocatur multum opio ignavior.

 

Aristotle, Historia Animalium 587a 31

“[Newborns] also discharge excrement right away, pretty soon, or at least within the same day. This material is greater than one might expect from the size of the infant and the women call it “poppy-juice” [mêkonion]. Its color is similar to blood but very dark and like pitch. Later on, it is milk-like once the baby immediately eats from the breast. Before it comes out, the newborn does not cry, even if the birth is difficult and the head sticks out while the whole body is inside.”

ἀφίησι δὲ καὶ περιττώματα τὰ μὲν εὐθὺς τὰ δὲ διὰ ταχέων, πάντα δ᾿ ἐν ἡμέρᾳ· καὶ τοῦτο τὸ περίττωμα πλέον ἢ τοῦ παιδὸς κατὰ μέγεθος· ὃ καλοῦσιν αἱ γυναῖκες μηκώνιον. χρῶμα δὲ τούτου αἱματῶδες καὶ σφόδρα μέλαν καὶ πιττῶδες, μετὰ δὲ τοῦτο ἤδη γαλακτῶδες· σπᾷ γὰρ εὐθὺς καὶ τὸν μαστόν. πρὶν δ᾿ ἐξελθεῖν οὐ φθέγγεται τὸ παιδίον, κἂν δυστοκούσης τὴν κεφαλὴν μὲν ὑπερέχῃ 35τὸ δ᾿ ὅλον σῶμα ἔχῃ ἐντός.

If you want more words for excrement in ancient Greek, we have you covered.

After oxidation, the juice of a poppy turns from white to, well, this:

Etymology of Mêkôn from Beekes (2010):

meconium

Tawdry Tuesday: Sparing the Rod

Antonio Beccadelli, Hermaphroditus 1.20:

“Lentulus, if you don’t fuck widows and you don’t fuck brides, if you don’t like whores and you don’t like maids, yet if you claim that you are a big and burning fucker, I would love to know, delicate Lentulus, what do you fuck?”

Image result for ancient greek vase sex

20. in Lentulum mollem
Si neque tu futuis viduas neque, Lentule, nuptas,
Si tibi nec meretrix, nec tibi virgo placet,
Si dicas quod sis calidus magnusque fututor,
Scire velim, mollis Lentule, quid futuas.

Two For Tawdry Tuesday: A Mom Joke and Salacious Salutations

A girlfriend’s mom joke

Greek Anthology 5.127 (Attributed to Marcus Argentarius)

I was really in love with the maiden Alkippê and once
I persuaded her I took her secretly to bed.
Our chests were pounding over anyone entering—
That someone might see the secrets of excessive desire.
The bed’s chatter didn’t get by her mother— she looked in
And suddenly said: “Daughter, Hermes is shared””

Παρθένον Ἀλκίππην ἐφίλουν μέγα, καί ποτε πείσας
αὐτὴν λαθριδίως εἶχον ἐπὶ κλισίῃ.
ἀμφοτέρων δὲ στέρνον ἐπάλλετο, μή τις ἐπέλθῃ,
μή τις ἴδῃ τὰ πόθων κρυπτὰ περισσοτέρων.
μητέρα δ᾽ οὐκ ἔλαθεν κλίνης λάλον· ἀλλ᾽ ἐσιδοῦσα
ἐξαπίνης· “Ἑρμῆς κοινός,” ἔφη, “θύγατερ.”

A weird salutation of body parts that takes a surprising racist turn

Greek Anthology, 5.132 (Attributed to Philodemus)

“Hello foot and calves, and oh—I should be dying here—thighs
Oh buttocks, Oh pussy, hey ass—
Oh shoulders, Oh breasts, what the slender neck,
The hands, oh—seriously I am losing my mind—eyes,
Oh bedeviled-craft of movement, Oh luxurious
Lickings, oh—come on, kill me now—the sounds from her mouth.
Even if she is Oscan and her name is Phlora and she doesn’t know Sappho,
Well, even Perseus loved Indian Andromeda.”

Ὢ ποδός, ὢ κνήμης, ὢ τῶν (ἀπόλωλα δικαίως)
μηρῶν, ὢ γλουτῶν, ὢ κτενός, ὢ λαγόνων,
ὢ ὤμοιν, ὢ μαστῶν, ὢ τοῦ ῥαδινοῖο τραχήλου,
ὢ χειρῶν, ὢ τῶν (μαίνομαι) ὀμματίων,
ὢ κακοτεχνοτάτου κινήματος, ὢ περιάλλων
γλωττισμῶν, ὢ τῶν (θῦέ με) φωναρίων.
εἰ δ᾽ Ὀπικὴ καὶ Φλῶρα καὶ οὐκ ᾄδουσα τὰ Σαπφοῦς,
καὶ Περσεὺς Ἰνδῆς ἠράσατ᾽ Ἀνδρομέδης.

Image result for Ancient Greek satyr

Porson vs. the Germans (With a Small Digression on Greek Epigrams)

From Facetiae Cantabrigienses (London 1825) p.39:

porson

The epigram which Porson composed seems to be modeled after a few epigrams attributed to Demodocus, which express roughly the same sentiment (excepting, of course, the contempt for Teutonic metricians):

235

“The Chians are bad; not just this one or that one – they’re all bad, except for Procles; and Procles is a Chian.”

Χῖοι κακοί, οὐχ ὁ μέν, ὃς δ’ οὔ,
πάντες, πλὴν Προκλέους· καὶ Προκλέης δὲ Χίος.

236

“All of the Cilicians are bad men. Among them, the one good man is Kinyres; and Kinyres is a Cilician.”

Πάντες μὲν Κίλικες κακοὶ ἀνέρες· ἐν δὲ Κίλιξιν
εἷς ἀγαθὸς Κινύρης, καὶ Κινύρης δὲ Κίλιξ.

Strabo preserves an alternative version of the first epigram, which he attributed to Phocylides rather than Demodocus, and which slanders the Lerians rather than the Chians:

“And this one is from Phocylides: ‘The Lerians are bad; not just this one or that one – they’re all bad, except for Procles. And Procles is a Lerian.’

καὶ τόδε Φωκυλίδου· Λέριοι κακοί, οὐχ
„ὁ μὲν ὃς δ’ οὔ, πάντες, πλὴν Προκλέους, καὶ Προκλέης Λέριος.”

 

Kleptocracy, Beauty Contests, and Lies

From the Suda

“To speak Cretan to Cretans: Since they liars and deceivers”

Κρητίζειν πρὸς Κρῆτας. ἐπειδὴ ψεῦσται καὶ ἀπατεῶνές εἰσι.

Hesychius

krêtizein: used for lying and deceiving. People use this phrase because Krêtans are liars.”

κρητίζειν· ἐπὶ τοῦ ψεύδεσθαι καὶ ἀπατᾶν. ἔταττον δὲ τὴν λέξιν ἀπὸ <τοῦ> τοὺς Κρῆτας ψεύστας εἶναι

Zenobius, 4.62.10

“To be a Cretan: People use this phrase to mean lying and cheating. And they say it developed as a proverb from Idomeneus the Cretan. For, as the story goes, when there was a disagreement developed about the greater [share] among the Greeks at troy and everyone was eager to acquire the heaped up bronze for themselves, they made Idomeneus the judge. Once he took open pledges from them that they would adhere to the judgments he would make, he put himself in from of all the rest! For this reason, it is called Krêtening.”

Κρητίζειν: ἐπὶ τοῦ ψεύδεσθαι καὶ ἀπατᾶν ἔταττον τὴν λέξιν, καὶ φασὶν ἀπὸ τοῦ ᾿Ιδομενέως τοῦ Κρητὸς τὴν παροιμίαν διαδοθῆναι. Λέγεται γὰρ διαφορᾶς ποτὲγενομένης τοῖς ἐν Τροίᾳ ῞Ελλησιν περὶ τοῦ μείζονος, καὶ  πάντων προθυμουμένων τὸν συναχθέντα χαλκὸν ἐκ τῶν λαφύρων πρὸς ἑαυτοὺς ἀποφέρεσθαι, γενόμενον κριτὴν τὸν ᾿Ιδομενέα, καὶ λαβόντα παρ’ αὐτῶν τὰς ἐνδεχομένας πίστεις ἐφ’ ᾧ κατακολουθῆσαι τοῖς κριθησομένοις, ἀντὶ πάντων τῶν ἀριστέων ἑαυτὸν προτάξαι. Διὸ λέγεσθαι τὸ Κρητίζειν.

 

Dionysius Attic, Aelian

Krêtizein: to lie. For Idomenus, when he was placed in charge of distributing the bronze from the spoils, chose the best for himself.”

κρητίζειν· τὸ ψεύδεσθαι. ᾿Ιδομενεὺς γὰρ ἐπιτραπεὶς τὸν ἀπὸ τῶν λαφύρων χαλκὸν διανεῖμαι τὸν ἄριστον αὑτῷ ἐξείλετο.

There is another tradition too for why Cretans are liars:

Medeia’s Beauty Contest: Fr. Gr. Hist (=Müller 4.10.1) Athenodorus of Eretria

“In the eighth book of his Notes, Athenodorus says that Thetis and Medeia competed over beauty in Thessaly and made Idomeneus the judge—he gave the victory to Thetis. Medeia, enraged, said that Kretans are always liars and she cursed him, that he would never speak the truth just has he had [failed to] in the judgment. And this is the reason that people say they believe that Kretans are liars. Athenodorus adds that Antiokhos records this in the second book of his Urban Legends.”

Ἀθηνόδωρος ἐν ὀγδόῳ Ὑπομνημάτων φησὶ Θέτιν καὶ Μήδειαν ἐρίσαι περὶ κάλλους ἐν Θεσσαλίᾳ, καὶ κριτὴν γενέσθαι Ἰδομενέα, καὶ προσνεῖμαι Θέτιδι τὴν νίκην. Μήδειαν δ ̓ ὀργισθεῖσαν εἰπεῖν· Κρῆτες ἀεὶ ψευσταὶ, καὶ ἐπαράσασθαι αὐτῷ, μηδέποτε ἀλήθειαν εἰπεῖν, ὥσπερ ἐπὶ τῆς κρίσεως ἐποίησε. Καὶ ἐκ τούτου φησὶ τοὺς Κρῆτας ψεύστας νομισθῆναι· παρατίθεται δὲ τοῦτο ἱστοροῦντα ὁ Ἀθηνόδωρος Ἀντίοχον ἐν δευτέρῳ τῶν Κατὰ πόλιν μυθικῶν.

 

Of course, in the Odyssey Idomeneus shows up in Odysseus’ lies

Od. 13.256-273

“I heard of Ithaca even in broad Krete
Far over the sea. And now I myself have come
With these possessions. I left as much still with my children
When I fled, because I killed the dear son of Idomeneus,
Swift-footed Orsilokhos who surpassed all the grain-fed men
In broad Krete with his swift feet
Because he wanted to deprive me of all the booty
From Troy, over which I had suffered much grief in my heart,
Testing myself against warlike men and the grievous waves.
All because I was not showing his father favor as an attendant
In the land of the Trojans, but I was leading different companions.
I struck him with a bronze-pointed spear as he returned
From the field, after I set an ambush near the road with a companion.
Dark night covered the sky and no human beings
Took note of us, I got away with depriving him of life.
But after I killed him with the sharp bronze,
I went to a ship of the haughty Phoenicians
And I begged them and gave them heart-melting payment.”

“πυνθανόμην ᾿Ιθάκης γε καὶ ἐν Κρήτῃ εὐρείῃ,
τηλοῦ ὑπὲρ πόντου· νῦν δ’ εἰλήλουθα καὶ αὐτὸς
χρήμασι σὺν τοίσδεσσι· λιπὼν δ’ ἔτι παισὶ τοσαῦτα
φεύγω, ἐπεὶ φίλον υἷα κατέκτανον ᾿Ιδομενῆος,
᾿Ορσίλοχον πόδας ὠκύν, ὃς ἐν Κρήτῃ εὐρείῃ
ἀνέρας ἀλφηστὰς νίκα ταχέεσσι πόδεσσιν,
οὕνεκά με στερέσαι τῆς ληΐδος ἤθελε πάσης
Τρωϊάδος, τῆς εἵνεκ’ ἐγὼ πάθον ἄλγεα θυμῷ,
ἀνδρῶν τε πτολέμους ἀλεγεινά τε κύματα πείρων,
οὕνεκ’ ἄρ’ οὐχ ᾧ πατρὶ χαριζόμενος θεράπευον
δήμῳ ἔνι Τρώων, ἀλλ’ ἄλλων ἦρχον ἑταίρων.
τὸν μὲν ἐγὼ κατιόντα βάλον χαλκήρεϊ δουρὶ
ἀγρόθεν, ἐγγὺς ὁδοῖο λοχησάμενος σὺν ἑταίρῳ·
νὺξ δὲ μάλα δνοφερὴ κάτεχ’ οὐρανόν, οὐδέ τις ἥμεας
ἀνθρώπων ἐνόησε, λάθον δέ ἑ θυμὸν ἀπούρας.
αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ δὴ τόν γε κατέκτανον ὀξέϊ χαλκῷ,
αὐτίκ’ ἐγὼν ἐπὶ νῆα κιὼν Φοίνικας ἀγαυοὺς
ἐλλισάμην καί σφιν μενοεικέα ληΐδα δῶκα·

This is the first ‘lie’ Odysseus tells upon his arrival on Ithaca. He does not know that he is speaking to Athena and a scholiast explains his choices as if he were speaking to a suitor or one who would inform them.

Scholia V ad. Od. 13.267

“He explains that he killed Idomeneus’ son so that the suitors will accept him as an enemy of dear Odysseus. He says that he has sons in Crete because he will have someone who will avenge him. He says that the death of Orsilochus was for booty, because he is showing that he would not yield to this guy bloodlessly. He says that he trusted Phoenicians so that he may not do him wrong, once he has reckoned that they are the most greedy for profit and they spared him.”

τὸν μὲν ἐγὼ κατιόντα] σκήπτεται τὸν ᾿Ιδομενέως υἱὸν ἀνῃρηκέναι, ἵνα αὐτὸν πρόσωνται οἱ μνηστῆρες ὡς ἐχθρὸν τοῦ ᾿Οδυσσέως φίλου. ἑαυτῷ δὲ ἐν Κρήτῃ υἱούς φησιν εἶναι, ὅτι τοὺς τιμωρήσοντας ἕξει. καὶ τὸν ᾿Ορσιλόχου δὲ θάνατον λέγει διὰ τὴν λείαν, δεικνὺς ὅτι οὐδὲ ἐκείνῳ παραχωρήσει ἀναιμωτί. Φοίνιξι δὲ πιστεῦσαι λέγει, ἵνα μὴ ἀδικήσῃ, λογισάμενος ὅτι οἱ φιλοκερδέσταται αὐτοῦ ἐφείσαντο.
V.

idomeneus

Give me the loot.

 

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