No Better(er) A Man: Mimnermus’ Memory of War

Mimnermus fr. 14

“That man did not have this kind of strength and proud spirit
As I learn from those who came before me
Who saw him turning back the Lydian cavalry’s teeming ranks
On the Hermion plan, a man with an ash-spear in his hand.

Pallas Athena never carped at his heart’s
Rushing strength when he sped into the front-ranks
In the clash of the bloody war,
Disappointing his enemies’ bitter bolts.

For not one of his opponents was a better man
At facing the work of powerful war,
When he [went] like the rays of the sun…”

οὐ μὲν δὴ κείνου γε μένος καὶ ἀγήνορα θυμὸν
τοῖον ἐμέο προτέρων πεύθομαι, οἵ μιν ἴδον
Λυδῶν ἱππομάχων πυκινὰς κλονέοντα φάλαγγας
῞Ερμιον ἂμ πεδίον, φῶτα φερεμμελίην [1
τοῦ μὲν ἄρ’ οὔ ποτε πάμπαν ἐμέμψατο Παλλὰς ᾿Αθήνη
δριμὺ μένος κραδίης, εὖθ’ ὅ γ’ ἀνὰ προμάχους
σεύαιθ’ αἱματόεν<τος ἐν> ὑσμίνηι πολέμοιο,
πικρὰ βιαζόμενος δυσμενέων βέλεα·
οὐ γάρ τις κείνου δηίων ἔτ’ ἀμεινότερος[2] φὼς
ἔσκεν ἐποίχεσθαι φυλόπιδος κρατερῆς
ἔργον, ὅτ’ αὐγῆισιν φέρετ’ εἴκελος[3] ἠελίοιο

This poem is not one of the best attributed to Mimnermus, but it has an a few interesting images and some instructive hapax legomena [“words that occur only once”]

1. A hapax legomenon [word only occuring once]: φερεμμελίην, “ash-spear” wielding”

2. ἀμεινότερος: a double formation, adding the comparative suffix –oter– to the irregular comparative ameinôn

3. Most editions have ὠκέος ἠελίοιο in the final line. I prefer εἴκελος because it works better with the dative αὐγῆισιν

Penthesileia in Agrigento

Perhaps Eddie meant to sing “she can’t find a betterer man”

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