Grammar = Misery

Palladas of Alexandria, Greek Anthology 9.173

“The foundation of grammatical knowledge is a five-line curse. The first has ‘wrath,’ the second ‘destructive.’ And after ‘destructive’ comes the ‘many woes’ of the Greeks. The third line leads ‘the souls to Hades.’ In the fourth we find ‘spoils’ and ‘dogs,’ while the fifth gives us ‘carrion birds’ and the ‘anger of Zeus.’ With all of this, how can a grammarian be anything but miserable after five curses, and five cases*?”

᾿Αρχὴ γραμματικῆς πεντάστιχός ἐστι κατάρα·

πρῶτος „μῆνιν” ἔχει, δεύτερος „οὐλομένην”,

καὶ μετὰ δ’ „οὐλομένην” Δαναῶν πάλιν „ἄλγεα” πολλά·

ὁ τρίτατος „ψυχὰς εἰς ᾿Αίδην” κατάγει·

τοῦ δὲ τεταρταίου τὰ „ἑλώρια” καὶ „κύνες” ἀργοί,

πέμπτου δ’ „οἰωνοὶ” καὶ „χόλος” ἐστὶ „Διός”.

πῶς οὖν γραμματικὸς δύναται μετὰ πέντε κατάρας

καὶ πέντε πτώσεις μὴ μέγα πένθος ἔχειν;

*That is, the five cases of Greek nouns/adjectives.

3 thoughts on “Grammar = Misery

  1. I wonder what Palladas was like? He just vaulted to the top of dead scholars/poets I would love to go drinking with…(you know, if I had a time machine and could work out all the linguistic details…)

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