Wau! It’s Wednesday: A Few Proverbs

The Greek letter digamma (Ϝ), closest to our glide –w– existed in Mycenaean Greek (wanax instead of anaks) and its force can be felt in Homeric formulae (e.g. Il. 1.39: Κίλλάν τε ζαθέην Τενέδοιό τε ἶφι ἀνάσσεις where hiatus is twice  preserved because the line may have been τε Ϝἶφι Ϝἀνάσσεις ) and seen in inscriptions.

Digama image

For this reason, I can’t do the ever-clever thing where I pluck proverbs from the Suda that begin with the Greek letter that corresponds to the English day of the week. Lazily, I am reverting to upsilon. The results are, uber-interesting. And, since in late antiquity once a seven-day week was adopted in Greece our Wednesday was dedicated to Hermes, why not perform a ridiculous translation?

Not a proverb, but funny:

“Oo, oo, oo, oo…: A surprised utterance which we typically make when we smell some savory smoke.”

Ϋϋ ϋϋ, ϋϋ ϋϋ, ϋϋ ϋϋ: ἐπίρρημα θαυμαστικόν: ὅπερ ἐν τῇ συνηθείᾳ λέγομεν, ὀσφραινόμενοί τινος κνίσους.


Healthy Insects?

“Healthier than a tick”: A proverb used for people who are entirely healthy. It comes from the animal, the tick which is completely smooth and has neither blemish nor injury.”

Ὑγιέστερος Κρότωνος: ἐπὶ τῶν πάνυ ὑγιαινόντων ἡ παροιμία. ἀπὸ τοῦ ζῴου τοῦ κρότωνος: λεῖον γάρ ἐστιν ὅλον καὶ χωρὶς ἀμυχῆς καὶ μηδὲν ἔχον σίνος.



“Turning a pestle”: A proverb used for people who keep doing the same things and accomplish nothing. These proverbs also indicate this: “Zeus’ son Korinthos”; “Again on the road to Pytho”; “The man carrying a plank”; and “Not blind, but eyeless.” Plato* writes also in the Adonis “I hope I don’t have a pestle’s turn”.

Ὑπέρου περιτροπή: ἐπὶ τῶν τὰ αὐτὰ ποιούντων καὶ μηδὲν περαινόντων. καὶ αὗται δ’ αἱ παροιμίαι τοῦτο δηλοῦσιν: ὁ Διὸς Κόρινθος. καί, αὖθις αὖ Πυθώδε ὁδός. καί, ὁ τὴν δοκὸν φέρων. καί, οὐ τυφλός, ἀλλ’ ἐξώρυκται. Πλάτων Ἀδώνιδι: εἶτ’ οὐχ ὑπέρου μοι περιτροπὴ γενήσεται.

*The comic poet, not the philosopher.


“A Pestle’s Turn”: A proverb about those who keep doing the same thing and accomplish nothing. There is also the proverb: “More naked than a pestle and a discarded skin.”

῾Υπέρου περίτροφον: παροιμία ἐπὶ τῶν τὰ αὐτὰ ποιούντων καὶ μηδὲ περαινουμένων. καὶ παροιμία· γυμνότερος ὑπέρου καὶ λεβηρίδος.



“Off the list”: A saying for those who have grown old.”

Ὑπὲρ τὸν κατάλογον: παροιμία ἐπὶ τῶν γεγηρακότων.



“A hog under a club”: A proverb applied by Deinolokhos to those who put themselves in danger.”

῝Υς ὑπὸ ῥόπαλον: παροιμία παρὰ Δεινολόχῳ ἐπὶ τῶν ἑαυτοὺς εἰς ὄλεθρον ἐμβαλλόντων.

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