Sleep, Pregnancy, and Head Wounds: Some Hippocratic Aphorisms

Hippocrates of Cos, Aphorisms

The aphorisms attributed to Hippocrates of Cos contain a range of medical ‘wisdom’. There are hundreds. Here are a handful.

2.3 “Sleep, or sleeplessness, should either come beyond moderation, can be bad.”

III. Ὕπνος, ἀγρυπνίη, ἀμφότερα μᾶλλον τοῦ μετρίου γινόμενα, κακόν.

2.7 “Bodies that have wasted away over a long amount of time should be healed slowly. Those that have declined quickly, should be healed quickly.”

VII. Τὰ ἐν πολλῷ χρόνῳ λεπτυνόμενα σώματα νωθρῶς ἐπανατρέφειν, τὰ δὲ ἐν ὀλίγῳ, ὀλίγως.

2.44 “People who are naturally rather fat die more quickly than the thin.”

XLIV. Οἱ παχέες σφόδρα κατὰ φύσιν, ταχυθάνατοιγίνονται μᾶλλον τῶν ἰσχνῶν.

5.38 “When a woman is pregnant and carrying twins, should either breast become thin, she loses one child. If the right breast thins, she loses the male child; if the left one does, the female.”

XXXVIII. Γυναικὶ ἐν γαστρὶ ἐχούσῃ ἢν ὁ ἕτερος μασθὸς ἰσχνὸς γένηται, δίδυμα ἐχούσῃ, θάτερον ἐκτιτρώσκει· καὶ ἢν μὲν ὁ δεξιὸς ἰσχνὸς γένηται, τὸ ἄρσεν· ἢν δὲ ὁ ἀριστερός, τὸ θῆλυ.

6.18 “A serious wound striking either the bladder, the head, the heard, the brain, some part of the smaller intestine, the stomach or the liver, is mortal.”

XVIII. Κυστιν διακοπέντι, ἢ ἐγκέφαλον, ἢ καρδίην, ἢ φρένας, ἢ τῶν ἐντέρων τι τῶν λεπτῶν, ἢ κοιλίην, ἢ ἧπαρ, θανατῶδες.

7.58 “Whenever the brain is concussed for any reason, people immediately become speechless.”

LVIII. Ὁκόσοισιν ἂν ὁ ἐγκέφαλος σεισθῇ ὑπό τινος προφάσιος, ἀνάγκη ἀφώνους γενέσθαι παραχρῆμα.

Image result for ancient greek medical practice
Physician treating a patient (Attic red-figurearyballos, 480–470 BC). Image taken from Wikipedia.

Bad Signs, Worse Decisions

Plutarch, Moralia 168f-169a

“Superstitions make many moderate sufferings deadly. That ancient Midas, as it seems, was so disturbed and troubled by some dreams that he became upset enough to kill himself by drinking the blood of a bull. And the king of the Messenian, Aristodêmos, in that war against the Spartans, when the dogs were howling like wolves, the grass began to grow up over his ancestral hearth and some of the seers were frightened by the signs, was completely disheartened and extinguished all hopes when he took his own life.

It might have been best for Nikias the general of the Athenians to free himself of his superstition following Midas and Aristodêmos. Since he was afraid of the shadow of a moon in eclipse, rather than to sit there while he was walled in by the enemy only to get captured by them with forty thousand men who were slaughtered or taken alive and then die in infamy.”

Πολλὰ τῶν μετρίων κακῶν ὀλέθρια ποιοῦσιν αἱ δεισιδαιμονίαι. Μίδας ὁ παλαιός, ὡς ἔοικεν, ἔκ τινων ἐνυπνίων ἀθυμῶν καὶ ταραττόμενος οὕτω κακῶς ἔσχε τὴν ψυχήν, ὥσθ᾿ ἑκουσίως ἀποθανεῖν αἷμα ταύρου πιών. ὁ δὲ τῶν Μεσσηνίων βασιλεὺς Ἀριστόδημος ἐν τῷ πρὸς Λακεδαιμονίους  πολέμῳ, κυνῶν λύκοις ὠρυομένων ὅμοια καὶ περὶ τὴν ἑστίαν αὐτοῦ τὴν πατρῴαν ἀγρώστεως ἀναβλαστανούσης καὶ τῶν μάντεων τὰ σημεῖα φοβουμένων, ἐξαθυμήσας καὶ κατασβεσθεὶς ταῖς ἐλπίσιν αὐτὸς ἑαυτὸν ἀπέσφαξεν. ἦν δ᾿ ἴσως καὶ Νικίᾳ τῷ Ἀθηναίων στρατηγῷ κράτιστον οὕτως ἀπαλλαγῆναι τῆς δεισιδαιμονίας ὡς Μίδας ἢ Ἀριστόδημος ἢ φοβηθέντι τὴν σκιὰν ἐκλιπούσης τῆς σελήνης καθῆσθαι περιτειχιζόμενον ὑπὸ τῶν πολεμίων, εἶθ᾿ ὁμοῦ τέτταρσι μυριάσιν ἀνθρώπων φονευθέντων τε καὶ ζώντων ἁλόντων ὑποχείριον γενέσθαι καὶ δυσκλεῶς ἀποθανεῖν.

File:Nicias, p 105 (World's Famous Orations Vol 1).jpg
Nicias

How Gift-Giving is Like Getting Drunk: Fronto with Seasonal Advice

Cornelius Fronto, To Appian from Fronto 7

“The person who sends rather weighty gifts causes no less grief than the one who throws the ball too hard to his teammate or offers a big cup to his fellow drinker in toast. For the latter seems to toast not for pleasure but for getting drunk. Just as in wise drinking parties we see that the wine is mixed with a little pure alcohol and a lot of water, so too are gifts mixed best with a lot of thought and a little expenditure.

For who should we say gets the benefit from expensive gifts? Is it the poor? They are not capable of giving them. The rich? They don’t need to get them. In addition, it is not possible to constantly give expensive gifts—there will be a failure of resources if someone should often send out immense gifts. It is possible, however, to give small gifts endlessly and without regret—since someone owes only small thanks to the one who gave a small gift.”

  1. Ὁ δὲ τὰ βαρύτερα δῶρα πέμπων οὐχ ἧττον λυπεῖ τοῦ βαρεῖαν πέμποντος ἐπὶ τὸν συσφαιρίζοντα ἢ μεγάλην κύλην προπίνοντος τῷ συμπότῃ・ εἰς γὰρ μέθην οὐκ εἰς ἡδονὴν προπίνειν ἔοικεν. ὥσπερ δὲ τὸν οἶνον ἐν τοῖς σώφροσιν συμποσίοις ὁρῶμεν κιρνάμενον ἀκράτῳ μὲν πάνυ ὀλίγῳ, πλείστῳ δὲ τῷ ὕδατι, οὕτω δὴ καὶ τὰ δῶρα κιρνάναι προσῆκεν πολλῇ μὲν φιλοφροσύνῃ, ἐλαχίστῳ δὲ ἀναλώματι. τίσιν γὰp ἂν Φαίημεν ἁρμόττειν τὰ πολυτελῆ δῶρα; ἆρά γε τοῖς πένησιν; ἀλλὰ πέμπειν οὐ δύνανται・ ἢ τοῖς πλουσίοις; ἀλλά λαμβάνειν οὐ δέονται. τοῖς μὲν οὖν μεγάλοις δώροις τὸ συνεχὲς οὐ πρόσεστιν, ἢ ἐκπεσεῖν ἀναγκὴ τῶν ὑπαρχόντων, εἴ τις μεγάλα τε πέμποι καὶ πολλάκις. τοῖς δὲ μικροῖς δώροις τό τε συνεχὲς πρόσεστιν καί τὸ ἀμεταγνωστόν, εἰ <καὶ μικρὰ δεῖ τε>λέσαι μικρὰ πέμψαντι.†

 

Image result for Fronto medieval manuscript
Hermit at work on a manuscript, from the Estoire del Saint Graal, France

Advice on Buying Gifts from Seneca

Seneca, De Beneficiis 1.11-12

“Let’s imagine what might be worth the greatest pleasure after it has been given—what would greet the recipient’s eye frequently and make him think of us whenever he sees it. Each time let us be wary not to send useless gifts, such as hunting implements to a woman or an old man, books to a simpleton or fishing nets to someone dedicated to literature. However, we should be equally mindful that, although we want to send welcome gifts, we do not send things which will reprove someone for a failing, such as sending wine to a drunk or medicine to a healthy man. For something which uncovers a fault in the recipient turns out to be an insult not a gift.

If the choice of the gift is our choice, we should think especially of things which will endure, that the gift may last as long as possible. For there are truly few people so grateful that they will think about what they have received when they do not see it. But memory revives for the ungrateful with the gift itself when it is in front of them and it will not allow them to be forgetful. And we should seek gifts which endure even more for the fact that we ought not to ever remind people: let the things themselves prompt a fading memory.

I will give silver which is sculpted rather than money and I give statues more freely than clothing or things which will deteriorate after brief use. Gratitude lasts among few longer than the objects themselves. Greater is the number among whom gifts remain in mind no longer than they are in use. So I, if it is possible, do not want my gift to be used up. Let it last, let it stick fast to my friend. Let it live alongside him.”

Videamus, quid oblatum maxime voluptati futurum sit, quid frequenter occursurum habenti, ut totiens nobiscum quotiens cum illo sit. Utique cavebimus, ne munera supervacua mittamus, ut feminae aut seni arma venatoria, ut rustico libros, ut studiis ac litteris dedito retia. Aeque ex contrario circumspiciemus,ne, dum grata mittere volumus, suum cuique morbum exprobratura mittamus, sicut ebrioso vina et valetudinario medicamenta. Maledictum enim incipit esse, non munus, in quo vitium accipientis adgnoscitur.

Si arbitrium dandi penes nos est, praecipue mansura quaeremus, ut quam minime mortale munus sit. Pauci enim sunt tam grati, ut, quid acceperint, etiam si non vident, cogitent. Ingratos quoque memoria cum ipso munere incurrit, ubi ante oculos est et oblivisci sui non sinit, sed auctorem suum ingerit et inculcat. Eo quidem magis duratura quaeramus, quia numquam admonere debemus; ipsa res evanescentem memoriam excitet. Libentius donabo argentum factum quam signatum; libentius statuas quam vestem et quod usus brevis deterat. Apud paucos post rem manet gratia; plures sunt, apud quos non diutius in animo sunt donata, quam in usu. Ego, si fieri potest, consumi munus meum nolo; extet, haereat amico meo, convivat.

 

Related image

 

Unsuitable Playmates

Anacreon Fr.358

Yet again, hitting me with his bright ball,
Golden-haired Eros calls me out to play
With a girl in richly spangled sandals.

But she—because she’s from fancy Lesbos—
Of my hair—because it’s white—disapproves.
And so, it’s at another girl she gapes.

σφαίρῃ δηὖτέ με πορφυρέῃ
βάλλων χρυσοκόμης Ἔρως,
νήνι ποικιλοσαμβάλῳ
συμπαίζειν προκαλεῖται.

ἣ δ’, ἐστὶν γὰρ ἀπ’ εὐκτίτου
Λέσβου, τὴν μὲν ἐμὴν κόμην,
λευκὴ γάρ, καταμέμφεται,
πρὸς δ’ ἄλλην τινὰ χάσκει.

 

A Comment: 

It’s worth observing that the lyric pairs its nouns with adjectives marking them as attractive: Eros’ ball is “bright” (in the sense of “brightly colored”). Eros himself is “golden-haired,” as befits a god. The young girl has “richly spangled sandals” (a closer approximation of the Greek adjective is perhaps “sandaled in a richly spangled fashion”). Her city, Lesbos, is “fancy” (literally “well built” or “well established”).

The pairing of adjectives and nouns should, in retrospect, mark the bareness of the first line’s unmodified “me” as important. It’s 5 lines later that the speaker’s hair, by synecdoche, stands in for his person, and an adjective finally attaches to him: “white[-haired].” Only the speaker is marked as unattractive in a lyric fixed on desirability.

With that, what becomes easier to see is the lyric’s fundamental contrasts. Eros has golden hair, but the man has white hair. The girl is young (Anacreon calls her “a youth”), but the man is old. In both pairings, the man represents a falling off: both from the god and the girl, and from our expectation of desirability.  

The lyric turns out to be a clever rehearsing of an overworked trope in Archaic lyric: Eros humiliates old men. When we realize the man is old, we also realize it’s grotesque he’d been compelled “to play like a child” (the literal meaning of the Greek verb) with a young girl. 

But in a sense, we should have known what was coming: “yet once more” (δηὖτέ) at the lyric’s opening is a conventional signal of (1) amorous defeat and (2) the would-be lover’s age-unsuitability for the amorous undertaking. 

There is a lot to be had from the lyric–the careful construction of surprise–without fixating on the seeming titillation of same-sex attraction in the final line (i.e., the girl turning her attention to another girl). I hope to have shown that the center of the poem might well be the revelation about the man, and not a revelation about the girl. After all, male anxiety about age, and aging out of desirability, is well attested in Archaic sympotic song; same-sex female desire is not.

Larry Benn has a B.A. in English Literature from Harvard College, an M.Phil in English Literature from Oxford University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Making amends for a working life misspent in finance, he’s now a hobbyist in ancient languages and blogs at featsofgreek.blogspot.com.

What’s Your Writing Like Without Quotations?

Diogenes Laertius, Chrysippos  7.7.180

“Apollodorus the Athenian in his Summary of Beliefs, because he wants to demonstrate that the works of Epicurus were written with personal force and were prepared with far fewer quotations than the books of Chrysippos, says in this very wording: “if the books of [Chrysippos] were scrubbed of all the superfluous quotations, only empty paper would be left to him.”

So much for Apollodorus.  The old women who used to sit next to [Chrysippos], according to Diocles, used to claim that he wrote 500 lines each day. Hekatôn reports that he turned to philosophy because the property left to him by his father was confiscated to the royal treasury.”

Καὶ Ἀπολλόδωρος δ᾿ ὁ Ἀθηναῖος ἐν τῇ Συναγωγῇ τῶν δογμάτων, βουλόμενος παριστάνειν ὅτι τὰ Ἐπικούρου οἰκείᾳ δυνάμει γεγραμμένα καὶ ἀπαράθετα ὄντα μυρίῳ πλείω ἐστὶ τῶν Χρυσίππου βιβλίων, φησὶν οὕτως αὐτῇ τῇ λέξει· “εἰ γάρ τις ἀφέλοι τῶν Χρυσίππου βιβλίων ὅσ᾿ ἀλλότρια παρατέθειται, κενὸς αὐτῷ ὁ χάρτης καταλελείψεται.” καὶ ταῦτα μὲν Ἀπολλόδωρος. ἡ δὲ παρεδρεύουσα πρεσβῦτις αὐτῷ, ὥς φησι Διοκλῆς, ἔλεγεν ὡς πεντακοσίους γράφοι στίχους ἡμερησίους. Ἑκάτων δέ φησιν ἐλθεῖν αὐτὸν ἐπὶ φιλοσοφίαν, τῆς οὐσίας αὐτοῦ τῆς πατρῴας εἰς τὸ βασιλικὸν ἀναληφθείσης.

25909_2[1]
Hedgehog number 2,  British Library, MS Egerton 1121, f. 44v.

Seneca Says: We Are Worse off at Death than At Birth

Your periodic reminder from Seneca: we are all going to die.

Seneca, Moral Epistle 22.12-13

“If you desire to be free of this and freedom seems truly attractive to you, and if you seek help for this reason alone—that it might be allowed for you to do this without constant trouble—how would the whole gang of Stoics fail to approve it? Every Zeno and Chrysippus will advise you about your moderation and honor. But if you keep turning your back so you can try to see how much you carry with you and how much money you need for leisure you will never find an end to it.

No one can swim to safety with their bags. Emerge to a better life with divine favor but let it not be in that way in which they are favorable to those people to whom they grant great evils with pleasant and pleasing glances—and they are excused for doing so because those things which burn and torture are given to those who beg for them.

I was already closing this letter with a seal, but it had to be opened again so that it may come to you with the dutiful contribution and bring some great saying to you. And look, here is something that comes to my mind which I don’t know if it is truer or more well-put. “Whose saying?” you ask? It is Epicurus, for I am still sewing my quilt from other people’s fragments. “Everyone leaves from life just as if they just had entered it”.

Grab anyone suddenly—a youth, an old man, someone in the middle—and you will find them equally afraid of death and without understanding of life. No one has finished anything, because we keep postponing everything we do to tomorrow. Nothing makes me happier in that quotation than the fact that it calls old men out for being babies.

“No one”, he says, “leaves the world differently from the way in which they were born.” This is false! We are worse when we die than when we are born. This is our fault, not nature’s. Nature ought to criticize us, saying, “What is this? I produced you without desires, without fear, without superstition, without treachery and these diseases! Leave as you were when you got here!”

Sed si deponere illam in animo est et libertas bona fide placuit, in hoc autem unum advocationem petis, ut sine perpetua sollicitudine id tibi facere contingat, quidni tota te cohors Stoicorum probatura sit? Omnes Zenones et Chrysippi moderata, honesta, tua suadebunt. Sed si propter hoc tergiversaris, ut circumspicias, quantum feras tecum et quam magna pecunia instruas otium, numquam exitum invenies. Nemo cum sarcinis enatat. Emerge ad meliorem vitam propitiis dis, sed non sic, quomodo istis propitii sunt, quibus bono ac benigno vultu mala magnifica tribuerunt, ad hoc unum excusati, quod ista, quae urunt, quae excruciant, optantibus data sunt.

13Iam inprimebam epistulae signum; resolvenda est, ut cum sollemni ad te munusculo veniat et aliquam magnificam vocem ferat secum, et occurrit mihi ecce nescio utrum verior an eloquentior. “Cuius?” inquis; Epicuri, adhuc enim alienas sarcinas adsero; “Nemo non ita exit e vita, tamquam modo intraverit.” Quemcumque vis occupa, adulescentem senem medium; invenies aeque timidum mortis, aeque inscium vitae. Nemo quicquam habet facti, in futurum enim nostra distulimus. Nihil me magis in ista voce delectat quam quod exprobratur senibus infantia. “Nemo,” inquit, “aliter quam qui modo natus est exit e vita.” Falsum est; peiores morimur quam nascimur. Nostrum istud, non naturae vitium est. Illa nobiscum queri debet et dicere: “Quid hoc est? Sine cupiditatibus vos genui, sine timoribus, sine superstitione, sine perfidia ceterisque pestibus; quales intrastis exite.”

Image result for ancient greek death mosaic

How Joseph Met Mary In the [Apocryphal] Gospel of James

In the apocryphal Gospel of James [also sometimes called the “Infancy” Gospel” or the Protoevangelium of James], Mary’s mother Anna is barren and her father Ioachim retreats to the wilderness. When Anna is blessed with a child, she pledges her to the temple. So, Mary grows up in with the priests in the temple until she is on the cusp of adolescence.

Gospel of James, 8.2-9

7.2 “When [Mary] was twelve years old, the priests held a council where they were saying: “Look, Mary is twelve years old in the Temple of the Lord. What shall we do about her, since we don’t want her to defile the Temple of the Lord when women’s matters come to her.” And they said to the chief-priest: “you, you preside over the sacred place of the god—go there and pray about her and let us do whatever the Lord God reveals to you.

So the priest entered, once he took the twelve-belled cloak, the clothing of a priest, into the Most Holy of Holy Places and he prayed about her. And, look, an angel of the lord appeared, saying to him: “Zacharias, Zacharias, go out and hold an assembly of the people’s widowers and have every man carry a staff. To whomever the lord shows a sign, she will be his husband.” So, the heralds went throughout the land of Judea and the Lord’s trumpet sounded, and every one ran there.

Joseph dropped his sickle and hurried to the assembly too. And when they were all gathered, they approached the priest. The priest took all of their staves, went into the temple and prayed. Once he finished the prayer, he came out and gave each man his staff back. There was no sign upon any of them. But when Joseph received his staff last, look!, a dove came out if it and alighted upon Joseph’s head.

Then the priest said, “It is your fate to take the Lord’s virgin. Take her and keep her as your own.” Joseph responded, “I have two sons and I am an old man; she is a young girl. Should I become a joke among the sons of Israel?” Then the priest said to him, “Joseph, fear the Lord God and the things he did to Datham and Koreh and Abêrôm—how the earth opened in two and they were all drowned inside because of their refusals.You should fear too, now, Joseph, that these things will happen in your house too.” So, because he was afraid, Joseph took her into his own care. And he said to her, “Mary, look, I took you from the Temple of the Lord, My God, and now I will leave you in my home. I am leaving to build some of my buildings. And I will come back to you in turn. May the Lord keep you safe.”

[to be continued…]

2 γενομένης δὲ αὐτῆς δωδεκαετοῦς συμβούλιον ἐγένετο τῶν ἱερέων λεγόντων: ἰδοὺ Μαριὰμ γέγονε δωδεκαέτης ἐν τῷ ναῷ κυρίου: τί οὖν ποιήσωμεν αὐτήν, μήπως (ἐπέλθῃ αὐτῇ τὰ γυναικῶν καὶ) μιάνῃ τὸ ἁγίασμα κυρίου. καὶ εἶπον τῷ ἀρχιερεῖ: σὺ ἕστηκας ἐπὶ τὸ θυσιαστήριον θεοῦ: εἴσελθε καὶ πρόσευξαι περὶ αὐτῆς, καὶ ὅ ἄν φανερώσῃ σοι κύριος ὁ θεός, τοῦτο ποιήσωμεν. 3 καὶ εἰσῆλθεν ὁ ἱερεὺς λαβὼν τὸν δωδεκακόδωνα (ἱεροπρεπὲς ἱμάτιον) εἰς τὰ ἅγια τῶν ἁγίων καὶ ηὔξατο περὶ αὐτῆς. καὶ ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος κυρίου ἐπέστη αὐτῷ λέγων: Ζαχαρία, Ζαχαρία, ἔξελθε καὶ ἐκκλησίασον τοὺς χηρεύοντας τοῦ λαοῦ, καὶ ἐνεγκάτωσαν ἀνὰ ῥάβδον, καὶ εἰς ὅν ἐὰν δείξῃ κύριος ὁ θεὸς σημεῖον, τούτου ἔσται γυνή. καὶ ἐξῆλθον οἱ κήρυκες καθ’ ὅλης τῆς περιχώρου τῆς Ἰουδαίας, καὶ ἤχησεν ἡ σάλπιγξ κυρίου, καὶ ἔδραμον πάντες.

9.1 Ἰωσὴφ δὲ ῥίψας τὸ σκέπαρνον ἔδραμε καὶ αὐτὸς εἰς τὴν συναγωγήν, καὶ συναχθέντες ὁμοῦ ἀπῆλθαν πρὸς τὸν ἱερέα. ἔλαβε δὲ πάντων τὰς ῥάβδους ὁ ἱερεὺς καὶ εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὸ ἱερὸν καὶ ηὔξατο. τελέσας δὲ τὴν εὐχὴν ἐξῆλθε καὶ ἐπέδωκεν ἑνὶ ἑκάστῳ τὴν ἑαυτοῦ ῥάβδον, καὶ σημεῖον οὐκ ἦν ἐν αὐτοῖς. τὴν δὲ ἐσχάτην ῥάβδον ἔλαβεν ὁ Ἰωσήφ, καὶ ἰδοὺ περιστερὰ ἐξῆλθεν ἐκ τῆς ῥάβδου καὶ ἐπετάσθη ἐπὶ τὴν κεφαλὴν Ἰωσήφ. καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ ὁ ἱερεύς: σὺ κεκλήρωσαι τὴν παρθένον κυρίου παραλαβεῖν. παράλαβε αὐτὴν εἰς τήρησιν σεαυτῷ. 2 ἀντεῖπε δὲ Ἰωσὴφ λέγων: υἱοὺς ἔχω καὶ πρεσβύτης εἰμί, αὕτη δὲ νεωτέρα. μήπως κατάγελως γένωμαι τοῖς υἱοῖς Ἰσραήλ; εἶπεν δὲ αὐτῷ ὁ ἱερεύς: Ἰωσήφ, φοβήθητι κύριον τὸν θεὸν καὶ ὅσα ἐποίησε Δαθὰμ καὶ Κορὲ καὶ Ἀβηρών, πῶς ἐδιχάσθη ἡ γῆ καὶ κατεποντίσθησαν ἅπαντες διὰ τὴν ἀντιλογίαν αὐτῶν. καὶ νῦν φοβήθητι, Ἰωσήφ, μήπως ἔσται ταῦτα ἐν τῷ οἴκῳ σου. 3 καὶ φοβηθεὶς Ἰωσὴφ παρέλαβεν αὐτὴν εἰς τήρησιν. καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῇ: Μαρία, ἰδοὺ παρέλαβόν σε ἐκ ναοῦ κυρίου τοῦ θεοῦ μου καὶ νῦν καταλιμπάνω σε ἐν τῷ οἴκῳ μου, ἀπέρχομαι γὰρ οἰκοδομῆσαι τὰς οἰκοδομάς μου, καὶ ἐν τάχει ἥξω πρὸς σέ. κύριος ὁ θεὸς διαφυλάξει σε.

Image result for mary and joseph marrying

A Day With the Dead: Introducting Chas Libretto’s “Laodamiad” for Reading Greek Tragedy Online

Euripides, Trojan Women, fr. 646a

“Follow me when I guide you”

ἕπου δὲ μοῦνον ἀμπρεύοντί μοι.

Today’s performance of Reading Greek Tragedy Online is a new play, The Laodamiad,  by Chas LiBretto based on the story of Euripides’ Protesilaus . Protesilaus is the first hero to die at Troy and who received cult rites at a few places in ancient Greece. Euripdiess’ play remains only in fragments.

Laodameia is the name of Protesilaus’ wife, according to the Euripidean tradition. Other traditions have him married to Polydora, a child of Meleager. IN the non-Homeric tradition, Protesilaus was permitted to leave the underworld to meet his wife for a single day. The action of the play seems to have centered around this event, following Laodameia’s grief and the reactions of her near and dear.

Chas Libretto brings us a new interpretation of this story, rooted in the fragments that have survived and imagining the pieces we have lost. In a way, this is as true to the theme of the tale as humanly possible, arranging the remains of the lives we lead around the absence of the people we’ve lost.

Special Guests

Erika Weiberg
Performers and Scenes
Music performed by Bettina Joy de Guzman
Actors
Jessie Cannizarro
Tamieka Chavis
Damian Jermaine Thompson
Rene Thornton Jr.
Laodamia – Female, 20s
Iolaus/Protesilaos/Podarces, her husband and his brother – Male, 20s
Acastus, her father – Male, 50s – 60s
Chorus – Male/Female, 30s – 60s
Odysseus – Male, 30s

Euripides, Protesilaus fr. 650

“Illogical hopes deceive mortals”

πόλλ᾿ ἐλπίδες ψεύδουσιν ἅλογοι βροτούς.

Euripides, Protesilaus fr. 654

“When two are speaking and one is enraged
the one who resists fighting with words is the wiser.”

δυοῖν λεγόντοιν, θατέρου θυμουμένου,
ὁ μὴ ἀντιτείνων τοῖς λόγοις σοφώτερος

Crew and Amazing People
Artistic Director: Paul O’Mahony (Out of Chaos Theatre)
Host and Faculty Consultant: Joel Christensen (Brandeis University)
Executive Producer: Lanah Koelle (Center for Hellenic Studies)
Producers: Keith DeStone (Center for Hellenic Studies), Hélène Emeriaud, Janet Ozsolak, and Sarah Scott (Kosmos Society)
Director of Outreach: Amy Pistone (Gonzaga University)
Poster Designer: Allie Marbry (Center for Hellenic Studies)
Poster Illustration Artist: John Koelle

Euripides, Protesilaus fr. 655

“I won’t betray someone I love even when they’re dead.”

οὐκ ἂν προδοίην καίπερ ἄψυχον φίλον.

Future episodes

All start times are 3pm ET unless otherwise noted. Live stream available at chs.harvard.edu and on YouTube.

December 15 An Ancient Cabaret

Euripides, Protesilaus fr. 657

“Anyone who lumps all women together in slander
Is unsubtle and unwise
For among the many women you will find one wicked
And another with a spirit as noble as this one”

ὅστις δὲ πάσας συντιθεὶς ψέγει λόγῳ
γυναῖκας ἑξῆς, σκαιός ἐστι κοὐ σοφός
πολλῶν γὰρ οὐσῶν τὴν μὲν εὑρήσεις κακήν
τὴν δ᾿ ὥσπερ ἥδε λῆμ᾿ ἔχουσαν εὐγενές

I am You and You are Me

The Fragmentary “Gospel According to Eve”

“I stood on a high mountain and I saw one tall person and another short one. And I heard something like a thunder’s sound and I went closer to hear it. He addressed me and said: “I am you and you are me and wherever you are I am there; and I am implanted in all things. So you can gather me from wherever you want. And when you harvest me, you harvest yourself.”

ἔστην ἐπὶ ὄρους ὑψηλοῦ καὶ εἶδον ἄνθρωπον μακρὸν καὶ  ἄλλον κολοβὸν καὶ ἤκουσα ὡσεὶ φωνὴν βροντῆς καὶ ἤγγισα τοῦ ἀκοῦσαι καὶ ἐλάλησε πρός με καὶ εἶπεν· ἐγὼ σὺ καὶ σὺ ἐγώ, καὶ ὅπου ἐὰν ᾗς, ἐγὼ ἐκεῖ εἰμι καὶ ἐν ἅπασίν εἰμι  ἐσπαρμένος· καὶ ὅθεν ἐὰν θέλῃς, συλλέγεις με, ἐμὲ δὲ συλλέγων ἑαυτὸν συλλέγεις

Creation of Eve, Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo