Snow in Words, Battle and, in season, On the Ground

We braved the winter gauntlet yesterday by plane, bus and automobile.  This means, of course, that I have to repost some snow-lines from the ancient world. (I would love to hear some more).


Homer Il. 3.222-3
“Yet, then a great voice came from his chest And [Odysseus’] words were like snowy storms”
ἀλλ’ ὅτε δὴ ὄπα τε μεγάλην ἐκ στήθεος εἵη καὶ ἔπεα νιφάδεσσιν ἐοικότα χειμερίῃσιν,

Homer, Il. 13.754
“And then Hector surged up like a snowy mountain”

῏Η ῥα, καὶ ὁρμήθη ὄρεϊ νιφόεντι ἐοικὼς


Cicero, in Catilinam 2.23

“How will they bear the Appenines covered in frosts and snow? Maybe they think that they can tolerate the cold, because they learned to dance naked at dinner parties.”

Quo autem pacto illi Appeninum atque illas pruinas ac nivis perferent? Nisi idcirco se facilius hiemem toleraturos putant, quod nudi in conviviis saltare didicerunt.


Solon, fr.9 1-4: Causation–Lightning comes from Thunder?

“The fury of snow and hail comes from a cloud

and thunder comes from bright lightning.

A city is destroyed by great men and the people fall

into the slavery of monarchy thanks to ignorance.”


ἐκ νεφέλης πέλεται χιόνος μένος ἠδὲ χαλάζης,

βροντὴ δ’ ἐκ λαμπρῆς γίγνεται ἀστεροπῆς·

ἀνδρῶν δ’ ἐκ μεγάλων πόλις ὄλλυται, ἐς δὲ μονάρχου

δῆμος ἀϊδρίηι δουλοσύνην ἔπεσεν.

6 thoughts on “Snow in Words, Battle and, in season, On the Ground

  1. Xenophon. 4.4.11:

    νυκτερευόντων δ’ αὐτῶν ἐνταῦθα ἐπιπίπτει χιὼν ἄπλετος, ὥστε ἀπέκρυψε καὶ τὰ ὅπλα καὶ τοὺς ἀνθρώπους κατακειμένους· καὶ τὰ ὑποζύγια συνεπόδισεν ἡ χιών· καὶ πολὺς ὄκνος ἦν ἀνίστασθαι· κατακειμένων γὰρ ἀλεεινὸν ἦν ἡ χιὼν ἐπιπεπτωκυῖα ὅτῳ μὴ παραρρυείη.

    But there came such a tremendous fall of snow while they were bivouacked there that it completely covered both the arms and the men as they slept, besides hampering the baggage animals; and everybody was very reluctant to get up, for as the men lay there the snow that had fallen upon them–in case it did not slip off–was a source of warmth.

  2. One of my favourites is the description of winter in Daphnis and Chloe by Longus. It starts off like this

    Γίνεται δὲ χειμὼν Δάφνιδι καὶ Χλόῃ τοῦ πολέμου πικρότερος: ἐξαίφνης γὰρ περιπεσοῦσα χιὼν πολλὴ πάσας μὲν ἀπέκλεισε τὰς ὁδούς, πάντας δὲ κατέκλεισε τοὺς γεωργούς.

    Winter came more bitter than the war to Daphnis and Chloe. For a large amount snow falling suddenly blocked off all the roads and shut all the farmers indoors.

    Longus 3.3.1

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